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The long read
An article on dreaming wisdom,
the I Ching and African Dream
Root, first published in Caduceus
I’m delighted to announce that the Animus ~ Art for the World Soul artists’ collective that I curate will be having its fourth exhibition from August 17th to the 29th, at Shambellie House ~ a fairytale-like mansion designed by renowned Victorian architect David Bryce in a romantic Scottish style, set in a beautifully shambolic wild garden South of Dumfries...and, until recently, the National Museum of Costume:
Here’s a poster for it:
...and a directory of all the events taking place:
As ever, there’ll be a rich medley of mediums, from Jennie Ashmore’s leafworks to Trevor Leat’s willow sculptures, Ben Fosker’s ceramics to Martin Wilson’s slate carvings, Cathy Van Hoppe’s watercolours to Fergus Hall’s oils and gouaches...and a concert by Morag Smith and Lewis Powell-Reid.
As for me, I’ll have a selection of recent lightworks: illuminated pieces cast in glass, which I’ll get back to once I’ve written this! ;)
I love the multi-faceted process of glass casting, which feels even more deeply alchemical than glass fusing. First, it involves pressing clay into relief shapes such as woodblocks, or sculpting forms; this allows for a working style which is sketchy, fluid and immediate:
After it's completed, the clay piece is cast in a mixture of plaster and silica, which needs to be thoroughly dried before firing. When it’s ready, it’s time to add the glass ~ in the form of of powders and coarser ground glass, called frit.
Here’s the face with this first layer of glass powders sifted onto it:
Inverting the image (something I’ve done for years with my cameraless photography) gives a feel for how the final piece will look:
Then the sheet glass ~ along with any inclusions, such as gold leaf ~ is added.
I love using streaky glass, which adds another dimension of aliveness and fluidity, especially when it drapes itself over 3D forms.
The only time I don’t use hand-rolled ‘Bullseye’ glass is when I want to use Millefiore, or ‘ thousand flowers’, as I have here:
Then I use Murano glass ~ so called because it’s made on the Venetian island of Murano, known as the cutting edge of creative glass in Europe for centuries.
All the process photos above are from a piece I’m working on for the exhibition called ‘The Healing Power of the Ancient Ones’. It was created with this latest exhibition in mind, the theme of which is Shambhala.
According to legend, this is a sacred and mystical land hidden deep in the Himalayas, accessible only to those sincere of intent and pure of heart ~ but inclusive of all faiths. Researching this fabled kingdom of peace and wisdom has been a fascinating process which I want to continue after the exhibition is over. The book which has been most insightful on the subject for me is Shambhala by Victoria LaPage:
A quote from this which I’ll be using as inspiration for one of my next pieces is:
“(René) Guénon likens Shambhala to Noah’s Ark, a vessel that is immune to natural disasters and and to all the apocalyptic forces of destruction associated with the close of the Kali-yuga, and which, like the Biblical ark, “contains all the elements destined for the restoration of the world, which are thus the seeds of its future state.” (p130)
The paintings of Nicholas’s Roerich, whose search for Shambhala could be said to have formed the governing focus of his life, have created a visual gateway into this world for me; here are some paintings of his directly referencing Shambhala:
Path to Shambhala, 1933
Order of Rigden Jyepo 1933
Song of Shambhala, 1943
There’ll be some prints of Roerich’s paintings on display at the exhibition, all proceeds from which will go to Jhamtse Gatsal Children’s Community in Arunachel Pradesh, a little mountaintop Shambhala whose name means ‘Garden of Love and Compassion’, which was created by monk Lobsang Phuntok in 2006.
Twenty percent of the proceeds of my artwork sales will likewise go to Jhamtse Gatsal; you can see a beautifully made and inspiring film about the community here:
I hope to see you at Shambhala at Shambellie, where I’ll be every day but one of the exhibition; but if you can’t make it in person I’ll be sharing news of it here...and may even manage to create a video or two while I'm there :)