Pay attention to the gap – the gap between two thoughts, the brief, silent space between words in a conversation, between the notes of a piano or flute, or the gap between the in-breath and out-breath.

When you pay attention to those gaps, awareness of ‘something’ becomes – just awareness. The formless dimension of pure consciousness arises from within you and replaces identification with form.

Eckhart Tolle

This experimental work in progress was for a Dartington Arts School MA Arts & Place residency exploring a loosely suggested theme of death and its counterpart: how to live a better life, particularly in the throes of a pandemic and ecological disaster.

The project was undertaken with stillness & silence as a foundation from which ‘still life’ images have emerged from any little thing I have around me. I have a lot of little old, treasured things. The purpose is to help make some sense or meaning from dynamic transformational changes that rarely fit into language – or even can be made sense of – until the process plays itself out. The work has been done intuitively, without pre-conceived thought, but it might’ve taken years to get there. Time is rarely a reliable guide.

Silence has become my language of choice: it speaks when the earlids are open and I can at last perceive what it has always offered so readily but I wasn’t always ready to listen.

Some background…

In 2017 I made ‘The Violin Case’, a naive work which contains all the good (but very few) memories I recovered about the time before my mother died in a car crash when I was just 10. My parents had just collected the precious violin my father had commissioned, but the fatal accident happened as they were driving home. Neither she nor the violin was ever mentioned again. A black, deathly Silence. ‘The Violin Case’ and all it contains was tenderly and lovingly curated from the viewpoint of that lost little girl after a shamanic soul retrieval experience at Dartington. My mother had loved beautiful dresses, shoes, colour and music and this is her memorial.

fig 1. The Violin Case 2017

For this project I wanted to experiment making small-scale installations. I am fascinated by female artists such as Hilma af Klint, Leonora Carrington, Louise Bourgeois – women who had struggled at times and for various reasons to be acknowledged, who all somehow had to find a creative way to negotiate their limitations and life-changing challenges. It is the inner life of those women brave enough to communicate their own internal landscape which I empathise with. And I noticed something familiar in a Frida Kahlo painting My Dress Hangs There.

Fig 2. My Dress Hangs There : Frida Kahlo 1933

The toilet, columns, trophy and hanging dress got my attention, a similarity to those small dresses I had made for The Violin Case. I started to play with the many accumulated bits of vintage ephemera I have around me, recognising the emerging alchemical imagery: being silent, internally still and faithful to the process was essential.

The following set of images depict a progression through a nigredo/black stage to albedo/white. I relied solely on intuition to guide when, how and if a subtle change would be made to each piece. Old buried memories bubbled up, dreams were of ablution and release. A reckoning.

Carl Jung said that it was not until he discovered alchemical imagery that he could make sense or meaning of the inner transformation he was undergoing (Jung 1983). Louise Bourgeois ‘…endeavoured to model a ‘reality’ that involved objects and spaces – Cells, as she would later call them – that provide a space where there may be a chance of bridging the gap between one’s own existence and life itself.’ (Crone & Graf Schaesberg 2008) and this is exactly how this project was approached, modelled and experienced.

This is a work in progress…

return to top menu: go to ‘a still life of considered whispers’ to view work: extra information about the objects is after all the references and biblio on last page