Life is a journey, and for me art is one of those activities that has greatly enriched that journey. It has been a means of self expression and has facilitated self discovery. More recently, as I have experimented with abstract expressionism, it has been a means of self awareness and a spiritual practice.
Like the seasons of our lives my art has changed over time in line with my lived experiences. Still influenced by the spontaneity of children’s art and established image makers such as Miro, Kadinsky, and Jackson Pollock, I have recently moved to an explorative process in art making. Experiencing the joy of creativity and devoid of a prescribed narrative, I have played with colour, line and forms. This process was initially inspired by viewing microscopic images of cells. I was attracted to the incredible beauty and diversity of the images, and became intrigued by the concept of a beauty that is never seen with the naked eye but is nevertheless there…a beauty and reality that is specific to a particular perspective. Within these images in the natural world, there are many varied shapes that are repeated producing asymmetrical patterns often with a sense of order and balance. At the same time the images exhibit a sense of randomness. It is these elements that I have attempted to explore and duplicate.
“Sometimes beauty is that unpredictable; a threshold we have never noticed opens, mystery comes alive around us and we realize how the earth is full of concealed beauty.” John O’Donohue
Images, like words, speak of and point to another reality. In my earlier work I used the image of a bird as a symbol of God. It stands apart from humanity, it is a different being, separate from our world and able to view our world from a higher perspective. The microscopic image explores a different idea of God and reality. While the bird speaks of God’s transcendence, being over and above the creation, the microscopic image speaks of God’s immanence, being within creation. In particular, these images explore the idea that the whole creation is infused with an energy, a force, a spirit. A beauty permeates our world, which we often miss unless we spend the time to look.
Exploring this idea in a number of paintings I have randomly and spontaneously laid down various coloured shapes and lines. I have then layered this initial image with further coloured paint and “marks”, endeavouring to create an overall image that is pleasing to the eye. The element of surprise is always at hand. Observing how each additional mark impacts the overall feeling of the image can be exciting but can also give mixed results. Sometimes there is disappointment and a sense of failure and other times pleasure. Tensions are created and sometimes resolved, and points of interest identified that may elicit a subtle sense of pleasure.
In this creative process there has been an attempt to be aware of both the evolving image as well as the dynamic psychological process taking place within the my mind. In this sense it is a meditative process and a practice of self-awareness. What “works” and why does it “work”? And the deeper question of why do I think it works? That is, what is my emotional response to the image and why do I respond in this manner? The use of non-figurative images are better suited for this process, as not being prescriptive allows the viewer to be involved in the same self awareness process. Working intuitively in this creative process, I have found that I have often lost myself in the moment.
Viewing an image can elicit a range of subtle experiences in the observer, from awe to disgust, from ambivalence to passion. Both the practice of art and the appreciation of art can be a means of self-awareness and personal development. The idea, process and image have then become a metaphor of our lives. The small experiences and moments within our lives, which are often overlooked and unnoticed, can be moments of great beauty and significance, if we are but aware of them.
“This is what creativity serves. It endeavours to bring some of our hidden life to expression in order that we might come to see who we are.” John O’Donohue