Here be Midnight

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Whole Story

Mission almost accomplished and it is ready for its unveiling.

It will be the first time I have witnessed the unveiling of an unfinished piece. This is not due to lack of time management though, it is unfinished by design.

Circular art has a long history within the psyche of human culture. It can be found in ancient cultures across the globe from the native cultures of the Americas, across the religions of Asia and throughout Europe. Human beings love a circle. It is one of the most natural forms known to us. Nature expresses herself in curves, arcs, coils, circles and spirals. Variations of a circular theme are found from the microcosm to the macrocosm. Our universe is made up of planets, stars, moons and the Sun. On Earth, flowers, buds, tendrils, bubbles, nests and fruit all spherical in shape. The sun rises and sets in a never-ending circle; seasons pass in an annual circle. The cells and atoms that make up everything within the universe are circular.

Psychologists suggest that circles and indeed Mandalas represent wholeness.

"Circles have no beginning or end. They represent the eternal whole and in every culture is an archetypical form representing the Sun, the Earth, the Moon, the universe, and other celestial objects between. Circles are used to suggest familiar objects such as wheels, balls and many kinds of fruit. They suggest well rounded and completeness.

Circles have free movement; they can roll. Shading and lines can enhance this sense of movement in circles. Circles are graceful and their curves are seen as feminine. They are warm, comforting and give a sense of sensuality and love. Their movement suggests energy and power and their completeness suggests the infinite, unity, and harmony.

Circles protect, they endure, they restrict. They confine what’s within and keep things out. They offer safety and connection. Circles suggests community, integrity, and perfection." ( Stephen Bradley)

And so for all these reasons I have chosen to use a Mandala to commemorate all that The Carroll Centre was, is and continues to be. 
So why have I left it unfinished?  It is because a community is made up of the people within it and around it, so I have designed spaces within the artwork for the people of this community to paint themselves. This is so they can represent their commitment, their interdependence, and their ‘being a part of a whole’.

There are 48 people shaped spaces within the artwork. For a donation people are invited to paint themselves or a loved one.

So the project will continue for sometime yet. I am so excited to see what people do within the spaces, to watch them make the art work become a real representation themselves and of a community. Really all I have done is lay the ground work with integrated symbolism to help hold the individual styles together. It is my hope that in the end, it will not only look like the work of a community but it will feel like one, in a way that only a cooperative work of many hands can do. Therefore, this concludes a spirit of togetherness and support, a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

A little about the symbols in the painting;

As with all Mandalas the painting begins and spreads from a single point. A tiny pinprick made with the compass needle, an invisible but essential part of the painting. It represents the intangible, the essence of the community centre.
From this begins the geometric pattern known as the flower of life. The flower of life symbol represents important meaning to many throughout history. The symbol can be found in manuscripts, temples and art throughout cultures around the world, some in Egypt are thought to be at least 6,000 years old.

One of the characteristics of this pattern is that it leads the eye both inwards and outwards and around, so that the individual images are placed within the geometric design. They are constantly being linked and relinked to each other visually as a reminder of the reality of their interdependence. A kaleidoscopic piecing together independent parts to form and reform a whole.

Closest to the centre are the six little houses. A house, as an ideal, is a representation of safety, security and a place to go back to. It is welcoming and provides shelter, warmth, food, advice, support and company.

The next set of images are of young children playing games. It represents the facilities and support provided for young children and their families for both the fun times and the hard times. Balloons and games are fun while they last but the balloon inevitably pops and someone loses in a game. The children are all holding books to represent the centre’s additional function as community library.

The outer circles picture young people looking upwards towards a compass. They wear similar clothes to their younger counterparts found in the inner layer acknowledging the centre’s ability to support children right the way through to adulthood. The gesture of looking upwards implies hope and the compass suggests direction. These images sit next to a rising sun symbolising a new day, a new opportunity, a fresh beginning and the offer of self-development and a brighter future.

All these circles are placed within a hexagon. The shape used by bees in a beehive and a great symbol of community. Around this are 48 people shaped spaces. These will be the most important symbols of the painting. Images that will be filled by the people of the community themselves adding a depth and diversity of character to the art work that could not be attained any other way. These in turn are placed within a circle, another container for the whole. The Circle is placed within a square. Squares, according to Stephen Bradley are stable and trusted shapes, they represent security and stability and they also suggest honesty. In the corners of the square are boats. These symbolise The Carroll Centre as a vessel that carries people on a journey, whether it be a short or long.

As the eye wanders around the picture from house, to people, to boat and back, it unconsciously links all the pictures together and without words manages to tell a short story about what The Carroll Centre does for so many people.  

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Magic without warning - the best kind

 I am unreservedly a morning person. My evenings are peculiarly short but my mornings are long and so beautifully peaceful - they are almost a source of excitement as I prepare for bed. Watching and listening as the world yawns and stretches before dawn. The first birdsong, the first car, the spiders spinning their webs. Darkness becomes dawn, every morning is perfect and unassuming and unalike. It's an addiction with blissful consequences.

Often, it seems that it is in the mornings that I will see something unusual or beautiful. One morning, not long ago, sunlight crept through the window and climbed onto the tip of my paintbrush whilst I was quietly painting. The spectacle took my breath away. Magic always comes unannounced, without warning and precisely because of its guileful nature it gives the greatest pleasure.

With the deadline looming my days and nights have become an ode to the mandala with obligatory pauses for the boring necessities of life. During the day I paint the Community commission and at night I study sacred geometry and watch the mind as it creates future mandalas each one increasingly more detailed than the last. It seems that life for me now revolves around round paintings and there is nothing I can do to stop it. Nor will I ever wish to

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe’ —a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
(Albert Einstein)

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A round it grows

And so it grows on...

It's had visitors

It's had reiki

And behind the screen...'s sat in our comfortable home whilst elderberries were prepared to become wine

...And all the while it's kept on growing


The moon is most happy when it is full,
the sun always looks like a perfectly minted gold coin
polished and placed in flight by God's playful kiss.
And so many varieties of fruit hang plump and round.
I see the beautiful curve of a pregnant belly
shaped by a soul within,
and the earth itself.
I have gotten the hint:
There is something about circles the Beloved likes.
Within the circle of a Perfect One
there is an infinite community of light.

-Hafiz (1325-1389)

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Circles within, Circles without

I'm so happy to show you the beginning of a wonderful project. 

It is so strange the way the universe weaves its magic. The chaos that is brought about by loss and change opens new doors that at first appear to be nothing more than an entry into a waiting room but then as the fog clears becomes a destination in itself.

What at first appeared to me to be, just a part time job has introduced me to some wonderful people and now an inspiring project. The Carroll Centre is a community centre in Stanmore, Winchester. It is a truly special place run by amazing people with big hearts who aren't afraid of getting their hands dirty.
It is a community library, a cafe, a midwifery centre, an after school care club, a creche, a job club, a senior youth club. It holds dance classes, art and craft activities, counselling and childrens' services....  the list of jobs it does will never truly encapsulate what it means to the people it helps and supports.

This project is for the 20th anniversary of the Carroll centre and it has come about almost of it's own accord that it will take the shape of a Mandala– a 5ft x 5ft Mandala. No need to tell you that it is not my usual scale of art work!

I have long been captivated by the Mandalas of ancient cultures, particularly those of Tibetan Buddhism. There is a sense of peaceful awe as the eye wanders over these intricate pictures that although hold incredible detail have a beautiful simplicity to the overall design. A design that acts as a container for these delicate images and messages and gives it a sense of unity but much more than that, a sense of wholeness and completeness. Much has been written about Mandalas, their magic and their abilities, Anthropologists, Theologists, Psychologists all have their particular bent on the matter. But no matter how many words they write and how much they analyse it will never truly communicate what Mandalas actually do or are – in this case a picture is truly worth more than any amount of 1000's of words. And so for the moment I will say very little and just show you the very beginning...

Gosh it's huge!

just a little happy!!

the first marks

circles within circles

in the zone..

More pictures soon