Many, many people in our modern, materialistic Western culture exist by chasing what is past and mentally creating that which is yet to come. When we are in our teens, we are desperate to experience the sense of freedom and … Continue reading
The Sun! It’s put the laughter back into our faces; the bees back into the flowers and flung the stars back into the sky at night. And for the first time in what seems like eternity, I am once again sitting outside my cottage, listening to the sounds of nature as the sky deepens from aqua to indigo, and the first stars begin to press themselves through to guide the moon.
Why are we always in pursuit of an ultimate destination in our lives? A result, a reason, a final epiphany. So often we forget to acknowledge that reality is in the moment; that discovery is embedded within the journey; that our choices are our keys to freedom….
I’d like to share with you an extract from my book, Fifteen Ways to Heal the World taken from the chapter entitled Find Acceptance in the Here and Now (Part One: Ourselves)
…I see it in this moment of time: life doesn’t happen to us on one blessed day. It is happening now. Right now; this is life, on this planet, in this dimension; just as it is. Right here before our eyes.
It’s in the scent of white lilies, which pours like balm into my throat; the sensuousness of the hot chocolate between my lips. It’s in the beauty of another; in the touch of a friend. It’s in the unconscious passage of feelings and knowledge between people who truly connect. It’s in the sad days which make you remember moments when you felt truly alive; times when in hindsight we come to realise that life was truly happening; perfect and complete; just as we have been waiting for…
“15 Ways to Heal the World” is available to order from New Lime Publishing www.newlimepublishing.com at £8.99 plus postage/packaging
Something I’ve come to experience more and more in daily life, and which I focus on in “Fifteen Ways to Heal the World” is the bi-polar nature of life. We cannot know satisfaction without first knowing how it feels to yearn; we cannot experience true enlightenment without acknowledging the shadow beneath; we cannot know freedom without knowing how it feels to fight.
Our existence in this life is a constant balance of forces, and one which is paramount in my creative voyage is that of tension and release. “Time” was a real challenge – a personal, emotional and physical challenge. Since writing about it in this earlier blog (“how long does it take to complete a painting?”), I was compelled to return to it when I saw the image in a flash of clarity as I was drifting off to sleep one night.
At last, she and I made our peace – we understand one another intrinsically, and lessons have been learned on many levels…
Then I went on holiday with Katia to our flat on the North Norfolk coast. The expanse of the landscape makes me want to run and run and run; makes me yearn to let my hair down, get on my beautiful racehorse Flash, and just let him go for his life along the miles and miles of sand…
As soon as we got home, I was desperate to bring that refreshed sense of liberation into an image, partly in response to the feelings evoked in me from all that much-needed physical space, and partly to blast away the residue of tensions which “Time” had unearthed.
For this one I had to work on the floor, and this brings on a whole different painting experience. On an easel you’re confined to the physical space of the painting whereas on the floor you can approach the image, quite literally, from any angle you feel like. There are no bounds; and the process becomes a sensuous, holistic almost dance-like experience.
For this painting, which I later named ”Release”, I used an inexpensive, thin canvas, partly because it was the only thing I could get my hands on quickly enough to do what I had to do, which in turn reflects the need for freedom and reckless abandon on the beach: no pressure to produce a perfect image, no planning, no hanging around …
Now it’s time to find the balance again between tension and cathartic release. Time for gently re-harnessing my energies back from my creative space and into the here and now. It’s time to be back; to nurture my garden, share laughter with my friends, straighten up the cottage, give my hardworking hands some grateful thanks – and somehow try and fathom out a way to get all this paint out of my hair!
“Time” and “Release” are now published in the gallery shop on the main site.
I am about to head off to London to celebrate a friend’s success at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, but due to recent events there, I felt I should dedicate a few moments before I go to sharing a few thoughts on what is happening on the streets not so far from our own front doors.
Yesterday I came across a media image which summed up the situation - and ultimately our society - perfectly: a youth photographing a torched vehicle with his i-phone, oblivious to the riot police officer standing beside him. What is the lesson waiting to be learned from all of this?
Education and Society push youngsters towards independence. Right from the beginning of their school careers, children are encouraged to have an opinion, to question, to challenge, to debate. This, coupled with our society’s obsession with political correctness and safety issues, could well be leading to a total misunderstanding and disregard for figures of authority, and ultimately to a frightened, misinformed and deeply injured youth.
In attempting to give the gift of Freedom, we are actually making big steps towards taking away from them altogether the ability to discover it for themselves. Freedom comes from a true and complete understanding of the Self. Freedom cannot be created, it cannot be pushed and it cannot be bred. Children instinctively seek boundaries and rules in order to feel secure as they explore the social world. They need the guiding hand of authority in order to delve into their own meaning. Authority does not mean dictation of thought. It does not mean a clone society. It does not mean crushing of creativity. It means holding out a guiding hand to those on their journey of discovery, and gradually loosening the grip along the way.
Childhood is a sacred and essential part of human development, but nowadays we are pushing our children further and faster into adulthood expecting them to take on the big wide world in one go before they are emotionally or socially ready.
This breeds a brief period of believing in all innocence that they can conquer the world. When they realise this is not true, they become exposed and fearful. And deeply angry at society for letting them down.
The other lesson we can think about is one of Spiritual Evolution. We have supposedly surpassed our ancestors who read the language of the Universe, who could move to the harmony of the planets, who could communicate through synchronised thought alone. We have supposedly moved beyond the ability to work with our innate psychic powers and universal knowledge.
However, somewhere along the way, evolution has taken a wrong turn, and has led many into the most destructive and dangerous phenomenon of humanity so far: Materialism.
The thought of six school-free, child-indulgent weeks can seem for some of us a daunting prospect at times. I had set this evening aside to compile and share an article about exciting arty things to do with the children over the holidays: beach art, painting, building dens, making windchimes and secret gardens…. and it is still my intentions to do this well before September! But as I sat down to write, I was compelled to first of all share an extract from my book ”Fifteen Ways to Heal the World”, which was inspired by my own little Katia.
Being a parent is a challenge. At times, it can even be one of the most exhausting, stressful, daunting, life-changers we’ll probably ever encounter. But it’s also one of - if not THE - most beautiful gifts that will ever be placed in our hands. The night Katia was born, I lay and watched her for what seemed like a small eternity, whilst the realisation sunk in that from this moment on, she entrusted me to know the answer to every question, to hold the key to every opportunity, to conjure up the balm to heal every hurt. And for a moment I had never felt quite so helpless in my life.
One thing I have come to realise as Katia and I have grown up together over the last six years is that although we are here to teach, to guide and to strenghten our children on their physical, mental and spiritual adventures, we too have so much that we as adults can learn from our children, if we open our hearts, minds and souls to the messages that they bring.
The following is an extract from the chapter entitled “Nurture the Child Within”. Copies of the book will be available soon – if you are interested in obtaining one, please send me an email.
Strive for the Mind of an adult…the Spirit of an elder…and the Soul of a lissom child…
Delight is an emotion which very few of us can truly claim to experience as we get older. It’s happiness in its absolute purest and most exquisite form. Delight is happiness which is untainted by cynicism, unaffected by past experiences or future anticipation. Delight is not governed by hope or driven by desire; neither is it quelled by fear or diluted by anticipation. Delight is a moment of total immersion in joy; in experiencing a moment right there, right now. Delight is the breath of life itself right there in the palm of our hands, on the tips of our fingers, deep down in the bottom of our hearts. How wonderful it would be to discover delight in our worlds once again, if only in the smallest of moments.
[As I write this] I’m watching Katia play in the sea [with a group of other children]. They’re busily building a wall to stop the sea from coming in too far. They have such faith in themselves, such belief that they can defy even the inevitable power of the tides: she and her band of kindred spirits who, until this moment of sharing, were strangers.
What we stand to learn from such beautiful faith! Hold this moment forever in your spirit my angel: let your spirit grow ancient but may your soul remain forever a child: free, open and believing.
Me and my girl, 2009
I tried something new with my painting process yesterday: I told myself that in 40 minutes this painting – the sequel to “So” – would be finished, even if, as far as the image itself was concerned, ”finished” meant remaining in an unfinished state.
Yesterday – after a large bar of chocolate and a walk in the rain - I finally accepted that this was not the kind of work which would ever reach a pinnacle point where I could put my brush down, pour a glass of Rioja and shout “YES!”. It has instead echoed a process of evolution in my own soul and therefore marks the point in my life at which the next chapter is waiting for me to open it up and let it begin.
As far as my artwork is concerned, this means I shall be taking a break from acrylic painting for a while to allow a new direction emerge. It’s been a while since I have really focussed my concentration on drawing and so my next project is to take some of the figures I have produced in acrylic under the heading “People” and take a purer and more objective perspective on them through the medium of charcoal.
Meanwhile, “Time” will be published on here in the next few days…
This is far my most frequently asked question - and the only one for which there simply is no straightforward reply!
For instance, “Wales” took 20 minutes to produce, using a kitchen sponge, limited colours and an aching homesickness for the Celtic coast. For those 20 minutes I was there: sinking my feet into the wet sand, feeling the spray on my face, the wind in my hair… The destination was clear; the message pure.
On the other hand, my current project – the sequel to “So” – has so far been occupying me in Mind, Body and Soul for the past six months or more.
And it is still materialising.
Not long ago I took a Foundation Course in Art Therapy, and we all quickly discovered first-hand that the process of image-making has a direct line to what Jung referred to as the Shadow Self - the part of the Self where our undesirable traits, drives, memories and desires are veiled from the conscious mind. However, in order to move towards the enlightened realm of the True Soul, we need to accept and befriend the Shadow and integrate it into our conscious reality. [The chapter entitled "Spend Precious Moments with Precious Others" in my book "Fifteen Ways to Heal the World" looks at the concept of the Shadow Self in the context of our relationships ]
Of course, we have the choice as to whether or not we embark on these journeys, and indeed not so long ago, several weeks passed where this particular painting found itself stored face-down on the easel before being relegated to fester further beneath the bed.
Out of sight, out of mind?
Not necessarily. Although we can easily abandon the image, its journey continues in the way we live our lives, think our thoughts, dream our dreams. And at some point, we need to harness the courage and faith we require to acknowledge the image and to embrace the realities which it presents.
In time, I have since been able hang it, unfinished, on the wall and listen to the messages this painting had for me. Finally, in this state of acceptance and knowledge, I am leading the image towards completion…
Sometimes the destination is clear, but at others it lies beyond a completely different horizon to the one on which we are consciously directing our focus. Then we have to search beyond the boundaries of objectivity, dance through the realm of the Shadow with arms wide open, in order to arrive, at last, in Truth.
Art knows no secrets: Watch this space!
STRATFORD-UPON-AVON CIVIC HALL, ROTHER STREET, STRATFORD-ON-AVON.
In March 2010 I worked with a group of young adults with special needs in conjunction with the “Find Your Voice” organisation, to create a large-scale three dimensional project entirely from recycled materials. The tree itself was constructed using a carpet tube, layers of papier mache and real branches, and the leaves were sculpted from burnt drink cans and brown paper.
The essence of the project however was to allow and encourage people with special needs to find their voice within the community and to help them to realise their hopes, dreams and wishes for their own lives, the lives they share with others, and for the world around them.
The project was started by this small group of creative young adults and, just as a tree spreads its roots and stretches its branches as it grows, we want this project to reach outwards into the community by encouraging as many people as we can to get involved.
The tree is currently to be found in the foyer of Stratford on Avon Civic Hall, with a basket of leaves for members of the public to adorn with their wishes and add to the tree.
Every wish on the tree is exquisite and personal to its creator. Maybe there is something you hope to achieve, eliminate, experience or share…it may be a wish for somebody else, a message for the wider community or to the planet as a whole and even beyond…
Your wish may be quirky, sentimental, ambitious, religious, feisty, pensive, passionate, witty, tender, far out or focussed…and because it is your wish, feel free to express it in whichever way you choose!
For creative inspiration or ideas on how your organisation can become involved in the project, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org requesting a “How To Make a Wish” pack.
For further information on “Find Your Voice” contact 01789 204729 or 269607
With grateful thanks to Action Unlimited Trust for their sponsorship of this project!
I started consciously writing this little book a year ago with my feet buried in the St. Ives harbour sand, watching my little girl building a sand-dam to stop the tides from coming in. But in hindsight I realise it’s probably been creating itself step by step over the past eighteen years or so.
It’s a 9000 word collection of poetry, paintings, prose and philosophies about our Journey through the material, socially constructed world around us, to unearth our very own Inner Truth; by looking at our own thoughts and actions, our relationships and interactions with others, and our ethereal connection with universal consciousness.
What it’s not is a self-help book or a step-by-step formula to healing our lives, for I believe that each and every one of us is on our own life journey and we all have our own directions and our reasons for being. What I hope it will be however, is a droplet of light in helpless times; a key to the wisdom we can gain from negative experiences; a little nudge towards a deeper existence in the beautiful world in which we live.
I’ve included the introduction, contents and three chapters of ”Fifteen Ways to Heal the World” on the main site. At the moment the manuscript in the hands of two very special friends for their feedback before being sent off for publication. Prices and availability will be made known on here as soon as I know!
In the meantime, I wish everyone a beautiful day.
Keep your feet on the ground but stretch your soul to the stars…