Visual Narrative of an Archetypal Journey
A Word at the Beginning
Cultural Artists Perspective:
The purpose of this paper is to provide a background to the artistic endeavor of a North Queensland Artist. With the language of the collective unconscious and the emergence of spontaneous archetypes, I propose to reveal how my work has the metaphoric body of a Myth or a Dream, and hence humbly articulates not just my personal journey into the mysteries of life's leading, but reflects/mirrors the archetypal journey of our Australian culture and of our international person.For it is my experience that no longer do national boundaries confine the images of contemporary western man, and as humble as the individual is in his or her personal life, each of us glimpse a common perspective of wholeness and unity with this journey we call life. I understand, it is the role of the artist to reiterate the signposts of this vision and hence articulate anew the Myth / Story for his age.
Campbell; “The function of the artist is the mythologization of the environment and the world."
Moyer’s; “You mean artists are the myth makers of our day."
Campbell; “The myth makers of earlier days were the counterpart of our artists."
Moyer’s; “They do the painting on the wall, they perform the rituals."
Campbell; “Yes. There’s an old romantic idea in Germany, “das Volk dichtet”, which says that the ideas and poetry of the traditional cultures comes out of folk. They do not. They come out of an experience of people particularly gifted, whose ears are open to the song of the universe. These people speak to the folk, which is then received as an interaction."
("The Power of Myth" p85. Joseph Campbell, 1988.Doubleday Press, N.Y.) (Artists have this view activated)
FROM THE HEART OF THE TROPICAL RAINFOREST NORTH QUEENSLANDMy journey begins in the rainforest of North Queensland 1980.
For 100 years this ancient remnant of the Gwanwanderland rainforest had been logged and was on the brink of economic un-sustainability. World Heritage nomination was 2-3 years away and the very last stands of coastal virgin forest was being logged at Downey Creek. This monsoonal Wet Tropics rainforest contains the world’s oldest rainforest gene pool and extends 100 miles long by 30 miles wide, along the far North Queensland coast. Rising out of a narrow sugar cane and banana and tropical fruit growing, alluvial coastal plain and the adjacent Great Barrier Reef, this Big Scrub forest covers a rugged escarpment of 2000 feet onto the Atherton Tableland with its verdant dairy and cash crop agriculture. This tableland abruptly stops as it meets the rain shadowed dry rocky interior.
Within the forest, a climbing palm, calamus, proliferates wherever there has been natural or logging disturbances of the canopy cover, the calamus pioneers the available light. Hence over much of this forest, vast quantities of this palm grew within its sheath of vicious hairy Mary prickles and grappling claws clad racemes, up to 40 feet long that supported and maintained its growth into the highest treetops. Rattan/Lawyer cane is the silicon skinned trunk timber that is cut and manually dragged out from the towering canopy. Thus grows one of the world’s finest weaving fibers, up to one and a half inches thick and 100 meters long. Throughout S. E. Asia the calamus had been exploited to economic extinction, providing for the worlds cane furniture and basketry industry. Here in this forest, as a weaving resource, it had laid dormant since the Second World War.
With my wife and two young children of 3 and 5, we entered this ancient forest and for 10 years, using the cane we nourished and supported ourselves.
There was no formal weaving training for my work. I had mastered a 4-shafted loom and spun for several years. Here I found a fibre that was structural in itself, and I was immediately fired with the excitement of design and form that could reflect the power of this great forest.
1984 Collection: Downey Creek-Devic Form, Mirror Frame, Vessel, Bamboo Screen, Woman’s Hip Chair & Table, Tully River-Devic Form
The heavy cane became the aspect that captured the power and abundance of my internal grail quest and immediately designs raced into form as I searched my intuitive function. I understand also that I had a keen Kinesthetic Intelligence / gift, where my hands had a dynamic life of their own and whose leading I trusted.
It appears correct to interpret our years of living simply in the forest as a projection of an un-evolved romanticized quest, isolated from the dominant cultural world.
"The mythological dreamtime zone of the Garden of Paradise, where there is no time, and where men and women don't even know they are different from each other. "(Cf.Campbell.p48.)
Let us explore what elements were at work.
Firstly the ancient forests, with its crystal clear water, are elements of the untouched primitive environment.
The psychic caldron (COLLECTIVE Memory ) from which all-human consciousness evolved and to which all humans are connected.
The open plastic roofed houses and bamboo floored tree houses were our humble shelters within this rare environment, with no walls to separate us from the elements, no electrical power, bucketing water and wood fires were routine. Our costumes were working class, stained and ungroomed. We presented the appearance of the wild man, the unsophisticated, the unsuccessful, and the poor; yet in our own forest, skimpy or non clothed were the mode as we returned to the innocence of consciousness before the fall in the Garden of Eden.
Here we practiced the consciousness of timeless connectedness to the primeval man, the wild man.
Plastic roofed house on Liverpool Creek 1981
Tree House 1986
It is important to relate my indebtedness to several master crafts people, whose lives have forever imbedded my own, with vision and wisdom.
As a young man, I had the privilege of working for two weeks with an old traditional Aboriginal man in a cattle station, Mudginberry, next to Oenpelli on the East Alligator River in Arnhem Land. Our work was to drive an old tractor and trailer out and collect rocks for a French drain. On the journey to the Arnhem Land Escarpment, we stopped for a drink and wash at a reedy billabong. I have always been a keen ornithologist and asked this man how he called the willy-wag-tail in his language. To my delight and surprise he sounded the bird’s song.
That is to say, he called the bird after an onamatapier of its own call.
I mention this story to illustrate the penetrating gift indigenous people hold for western man. Their perception often cuts reality to an extraordinary simplicity and quality of beingness. A place of seeing we are often culturally closed from.
In 1981, I had the honor of being shown as a student, the fibre craft of an old traditional rainforest lady, Daisy Demim.
She was apparently in her late 80's, deaf and spoke only her Djurible dialect to me. Hence after being rebuffed, I came back several times with swamp grass and thin lawyer cane and witnessed the language of her hands. With the use of her nails, fingers, teeth and a knife, and with such grace of economy and knowledge of the fibers that again I was struck with awe. A window of perception was opened to me. I could witness the power of the crafts to transform my consciousness, yet had to wait 10 years to confidently articulate that knowledge.
Here was a cultural custodian, who connected me to the continuity of memory, evolved and refined in this rainforest, which I was to identify so closely with.
On researching oral history with these Djurible people, I discovered they were the makers of what I experience as the most beautiful baskets, I have ever seen.
Traditional Djurible Lawyer Cane Basket
A key teacher entered my life in 1982, a Mrs Asau Ohme.
She had us call her Merriam. Merriam was from Murray Island. The most eastern island of the Torres Straits, a group a islands between Australia's Cape York and Papua New Guinea. Of indigenous Melanesian Culture, she was a Master Weaver and crafts women of her Murray Island "Miriam" Culture. Significantly it was her Coconut leaf weaving skills that were to change my worldview. As her mother before her, she had always had her hands busy, remembering her material culture from a time when all ones material environment was made with your own hands. Miriam was aware that her own children never picked up her gift and as a grandmother, worried for her grandchildren, and that for their lives her cultural gifts should be passed onto them. This capacity to understand how the crafts carry the culture; that through the discipline of the hands, the values and meaning of a unique cultural consciousness can be contained and passed on. Thus by participating in these crafts, I tangibly was being washed by their indigenous roots of consciousness.
At this stage in 1982 we had much to do with Community Arts and were provided with the opportunity to use the weaving crafts to entertain and also educate many people. Coconut palm leaf became the accessible material for instant education and we never ceased to be awed by the powerful nature of so humble a material. In 6 minutes, a leaf could entrance a crowd as it changed into different crafted forms, from birds to windmills; grasshoppers to trumpets. And in 10 minutes, 4 to 80 year old people could embrace the transformation of the craft skills and learn to make their own piece of illusion. This was an active time of witnessing the power of the crafts through fundamental hand finger skills. Repeatedly we saw people change perception, their place of experiencing life values through this kinesthetic knowledge providing me with a reflection about seeing my own quest through the crafts, as a means of awakening my consciousness toward the mysteries of life.
Mrs Ohme with some of her grandchildren, and the artist 1989.
Coconut Weaving Collection: Cairns 1990.
We had started making long journeys of 1000 miles, to Brisbane, in old bomb Landrover loaded with our baskets. We were pioneering markets for our work in the big smoke. These epic journeys called forth trust in grace beyond ourselves, for often with little or no money and a large dash of vision, we accomplished fine journeys.
In 1982 we were invited to be guest delegates at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games. Here in a craft village, in a beautiful botanical garden, we worked along side many Master Crafts people from all the Commonwealth Nations. Interestingly, they were mostly Indigenous people. Specifically I was impressed by the strength of inner connection these artists worked from and their ability to captivate the thousands of visiting public. It was here we found that however naive and ungroomed our Cultural Persona was, the craft was what interested the community, and our craft was strong and whole.
Next to me, in these gardens, an Aboriginal potter from Cape York sat all day with children and played with clay. For many years this potter, Thancoupie, was to include my family into her own as we worked through the arts with children and culture.
I went to visit her exhibition of pots in a nearby gallery. Here I was struck by a collection of paintings by Jakupa Ako, a New Guinea indigenous artist. The paintings spoke to the artist in myself, and although seemingly autistic in this skill, I immediately was excited by this knowledge that I could now paint. Jakapuka was to awaken my courage to be what I most needed to be; a painter who could document in a complimentary narrative, the extraordinary journey the natural fibre crafts was projecting me along. On returning to the forest I immediately started my naive painting career with house paint and calico.
In 1984 we made another southern hunting journey to the Craft Council’s Expo in Kings Cross-Sydney.
Having left our children in the care of my wife's mum we decided upon our return to give our family a holiday. Thus we packed up our 25 year old Landrover yet again and headed 1500 miles west into the Great Western Desert to a small Aboriginal community called Papunya, 150 miles NW of Alice Springs. Here our Scottish New Zealand friend was living with his Luritja wife, Ada Andy Napaltjarri, and their 2 children.
Out of the green towering canopies and pristine sparkling creeks, our children were excited by the wide ochre open space and the night skies of this vast land. Parched by heat, then overwhelmed by this strange community, they hid in the closed room for days slowly coming out in the evening, to be confronted by fast running, stone throwing 3 and 4 year olds. Obviously the landscape and the people awed us adults. Yet this was the introduction of my family into one of the oldest and most undisturbed indigenous cultures on the earth. We were smitten with an enduring love with the central desert and its traditional people. Here was a vast untouched wilderness capable of transforming much of ourWestern Cultural paradigms. With Ada and Alistair we were hosted into the complex sensitivities of family relationships and of seeing the land through new eyes and ideas.
Ada was one of the first Papunya women Artists who had adopted the newly emerging Western Desert Dot Art Style. From her influence I became engrossed in portable canvas that could be primed and rolled; thus carried and worked whenever I chose. The paint developed from 3 primary industrial oxides, red, black and yellow With the addition of white paint, I had my pallet and the freedom to document the simple images of the archetypes.
Ada was a wonderful teacher, where with English as her third language; Luritja and Warlpiri being her primary languages; she actively involved us in her traditional bush skills of hunting and gathering and her rich family and cultural life. With my pre-occupation of weaving the circle, I was deeply appreciative that throughout these Great Western Desert Cultures, dotted concentric circles denoted the sacred places. Here I found one of the world’s oldest cultural heritages of 20 - 60.000 years of continuum where the Archetype of Wholeness was denoted by a circle, and whose contemporary articulation of it in the visual arts had utilized the dot, a circle, as its primary technique. This then became my meditation and adopted painting style that would compliment the kinesthetic craft discipline I so loved.
"Transformation": 2.1m x3.2m. Acrylic on calico. 1982.
Site: Japoonvale Wet Tropics Nth Queensland.
Description: Three human figures are above a snake, which extends along the bottom of the painting. A large circular shape floats on the top left hand corner. Within this circle a right wheeling blue swastika moves through a red background. A green field surrounds this central image then is again surrounded by a dark blue and a light blue perimeter. Within the left figure, a left moving light blue swastika of alternated red and blue backgrounds fills the body/ feeling arena. A zigzag line defines the bottom of the form. A hand profile emerges from the left side of the body, with a three armed, blue left/ anti clockwise moving spiral, reminiscent of a common Celtic design. Again the top of the head is defined by a zigzag pattern. The central figure is the larger figure, with a five plus five = ten, spoke central wheel surrounded by a four/ quarter spoke wheel, in the body/ feeling cavity. The central wheel is green and its surrounding wheel is red and blue. The right hand figure is small and has a pair of legs. Its body is filled with a simple / unevolved circular pattern showing the painting background, yellow with a thin blue circle dividing it into concentric circles. Again, like the left hand figure, the top of the head is defined by a zigzag pattern. The large green snake underlies the whole painting.
Cultural Context: "Transformation" is my first leap of self-confidence into expressing the Painter in myself. A door opened to articulate the very essence/ clairvoyant perceptions, of the feeling/ body and thoughts/ head, in the form of a painting narrative. This was the revelation of witnessing Jakupa's exhibition of paintings at the 1982 Commonwealth Games. Here was an indigenous artist narrating in a very visible technique, a sense of seeing, alien to western art. I recognized that he was depicting the internal world as a valid reality; contrary to the western art that depicts the outer form. Thus although uncertain in defining the outer form I clearly sensed I was gnostic, I intuited the inner form, and could give it a design language.
Initially I believed I was depicting my wife, my children, in the three figures and myself. Myself being confident and smiling with the active craft hands, and the vision of wholeness/ the flying saucer/ a cosmic circle, activating my left/ intuit function. My wife/ the earth mother, pragmatically conscious of her responsibilities of nurturing the children within the isolated cultural fringe of our wilderness lifestyle. The mouth represented the awe and concern/ fear such insight inspires. Yet as the biggest figure, she had to carry the largest load, physically and spiritually. The two children depicted as one often are frightened of their own and their families vulnerability, from which their only security was from our capacity as parents to nurture. Often I encouraged the children to develop their own sense of their physical limits, such as swimming and climbing in the rainforest flooded rivers and amongst the grandfather trees that crowded our forest. The snake symbolized the process of transformation, and was a rainbow snake; a mythical metaphor. Our forest was full of amethyst pythons, fantastically rainbow gilded and up to 4-6 meters long. The children and I often caught these nocturnal visitors, and had each been bitten and generally frightened, yet confident with these neighbors. Always, however cool you think you are, the snake's presence will transform your consciousness from neutral to alert.
A living metaphor of the Archetype of Transformation.
Since most of my paintings were to develop on the canvases spontaneously, they appeared to my consciousness like dream images, metaphoric narratives that find their story as I lived and contemplated/ meditated on them. The symbols and forms reveal a personal unconscious meaning/ myth to my conscious life. Using the language of the collective unconscious as a tool, I was able to unravel a resonating personal, cultural and archetypal story.
Story:During the process of listening to the story, the metaphors awaken. One initiates the ideas externally in the form of projections, and then one learns to own these projections and develop the idea that the narrative is a picture of the internal world. Here I recognize metaphors of the self, anima, child/ shadow, persona and the process of transformation.
Hence the left hand figure represents the strong persona I find in being an active craftsmen, that which my culture can identify in my life style. The activity of the craft conceals the vulnerability of other aspects prone to censorship by my culture. The central figure is my feminine anima, which sometimes overshadows and possesses me or sometimes co-operates with my conscious management process. Awakening her leading had preoccupied me for many years. The child is a shadow image of the uncertain undeveloped aspects of my life. I see the maternal figure as seeking to protect the child/ standing over. Both characters express the fear of moving into the unknown world of the forest/ the unconscious. It was not an easy life practically, full of uncertainties, doubts and hidden dangers. Yes, I was very frightened, leaving the known cultural herd, in quest of an intuitive vision of something other. The snake is a metaphor of death and new life; dying to the old form and being born to a new life as lived by the snake in shedding its old skin. The circle on the top left is my intuitive vision of the wholeness of my soul life, the self. This image of intuitive vision is echoed throughout my work, until I sense a turning point of internalizing the metaphors of my quest nine years later and paint the archetypes as aspects within myself, owned and honored.
I find the ever-occurring eggheads of this first painting are an interesting metaphor. Although, technically, it provides an easy resolution for depicting the head, more profoundly the egg contains powerful numinous mythological associations with the cosmic life pregnant within the first day of creation, the Cosmic Egg.
Self Portrait 1
"Self Portrait 1": 1,2m x 1.2m, Acrylic on calico. 1982.
Description: Against a red ochre background a map of the human body is naively depicted. The body is a blue circle, the yellow head is an egg, and the actual hands and feet are direct body profiles. The body is divided into four segments about a central green supercircle. Inside this green inset is a purple snake and a desert motif depicting two people sitting facing each other. At the bottom of the body two catamaran/ boat shapes appear. The right hand holds a red cross in a white circle and the left hand holds a red and yellow yin yang symbol.
Cultural Context: This was the first humble narrative of the internal map of my unconscious. The Archetypes are principally associated with my sense of awakening the primary paradox of light and darkness, and the endless metaphoric images stemming from these opposites.
Yellow is the mind/ conscious, blue is the feelings/ intuition unconscious. The boat infers the humble vehicle of the ego venturing across the endless ocean of the collective unconscious. The snake is the transcendental function of death to old ideas and rebirth into the life of a new consciousness, hence it’s associated motif of sitting on the earth in a meditative internally awake posture.
Story: Here I found the enormous humor of at last being able to grasp the finer etheric perceptions I had so earnestly listened to. The process of mapping with such free and whimsical naivety and then narrate my journey pointing at something tangible and real such as this chart depicts, was a extraordinary moment of transformation for the severely introverted and communicatively autistic character in myself.
RAINBOW SNAKE AND THE CHRIST SPIRIT
"RAINBOW SNAKE AND THE CHRIST SPIRIT": 2.3 x1.4m, Acrylic on calico. 1982.
Site: Japoonvale, after returning from the first visit to the central desert.
Description: The background sky is a light grey on a red earth profile. From the top left the large arch of a rainbow moves across the sky and meets the base of a large figure on the left hand side. This large red body has an anti clockwise spiral at its base, and then an ochre egg proceeded by an ochre supercircle with eleven segments circling a cassowary. This is again followed by another supercircle surrounding a crocodile framed in a red square. The head has a large brown and black egg shaped mouth, the eyes have rainbow colored backgrounds and the top of the head is an elongated yellow egg full of human stick shape figures.
On the upper left are two figures with red bodies. The left hand figured body has a sine wave moving along a straight line and the right hand figured body is decorated with a series of semicircular decorations. A smaller rainbow arches out of the large one and enters a triangle with two large eyes and two white cones emitting from it to the landscape.
Cultural Context: The large figure is the personification of the creative spirit of the planet. From my training in esoteric Christian discipline I had developed a relationship to my internal leading as associated with my indwelling Christ presence. On contacting the awesome historic perspective of the central indigenous culture, I reassessed my association with this indwelling personality and perceived that the great personality of the dreamtime in the form of the rainbow snake was one and the same metaphor. Here I was decoding cross-cultural metaphors within my own internal quest. The two spectators infer my association to the feminine/ moon/ semicircular motif and the masculine/ straight-line motif as the two unfolding attributes of my personality. The prism is personified and hinting at being the Rainbow Snakes head and the creative vehicle of imparting the light of the sun/ god to the field of our manifested earth. At the base of the spirit figure the anti clockwise spiral denotes a movement into the unconscious; the egg the cosmic creative potential; the cassowary a flightless bird of the rainforest appears to represent the soul centre or self of my personality; the crocodile as death to all outer forms/ the enfolding square being the earth and its sensory, rational perspective this being my interest in perceiving beyond the veil of Maya.
Story: Here is my first cosmology narrative. By dwelling on a primary geometric shape of the triangle I opened a window to interpreting the elusive archetypes and associating the primary cross-cultural images of primordial man, as present in remnants of the art and mythology of Aboriginal Australian landscape. I had awoken a fundamental cultural perception on the first visit to the central desert. No longer would I ever see my European culture as the centre of my world view/ paradigm. Rather from witnessing the numinous richness of these cultures and their vast 40-60,000 year consciousness memory which so over shadows our 4-5,000 year cultural memory, I would thus seek a metaphoric and archetypal articulation of my meaning/ value/ paradigms/ myth and rebel when confronted with fundamentalism in all its tunnel vision forms.
CONTEMPORY MAN AND THE RAINBOW SPIRIT
"CONTEMPORY MAN AND THE RAINBOW SPIRIT": 2m x1.3m, Acrylic on canvas. 1988.
Site: The Great Walk SW Western Australia.
Description: The background is a light blue sky against a profiled red earth landscape. A rainbow arches from the top left† to the centre of the painting where it meets a large figure which has a white body and a red body. The brown body outline has a black and white zigzag decoration. Internally is a yellow spear head shape with a white snake moving up from the bottom. The head has a large ochre egg shaped motif at its top. This is full of human stick images in active postures. The rainbow also forms a secondary arch and meets a white eagle's head. From this profiled head two white cones penetrate down to the red earth. On the top left sits a crow profile with a super circle and cross motif on its chest and on the top right is a kangaroo in the form of a supercircle. From the left runs a rainbow coloured river with its banks denoted by black dots. These dots merge and discolour the river as it extends into the bottom of the picture. A series of figures amidst a forest/ tree profiles mingle with the upper reaches of the river. On the central cleared red earth is a tractor. On the lower right is a cluster of human figures with distressed eyes, placed under a silhouetted skeletal forest/ trees.
Cultural Context: Here I re-explore the recognition of the Christ spirit and the mythological Rainbow Snake being images of the same archetypal creative spirit. Against the narrative of the dying earth/ its polluted rivers, desolated forests and agricultural land I depict my family living amongst the last trees and witnessing the encroaching death wish of modern man. The crow is the wakeful attention of my mind and the kangaroo the wakeful attention of my intuition in their quest to connect / reunite with the clearest metaphoric archetypes of the world's universal creative spirit. If this quest is successful then I have honored the privilege of parenting my extraordinary children, and maintained the potential of the future.
Story: Five years later I repainted an earlier story for as yet I saw no tonal change in contemporary material culture to address the imminent violation of our planets sustainability. During the 50's and 60's my education revealed the extinction of the world's great wildernesses and the fragility of our natural resources. I also intuitively acknowledged the bankruptcy of the human spirit in my middle class Australian culture. My own dysfunctional family projected my quest for wholeness into the bush and here I found my Ariadne thread back to the enduring and immutable wilderness of my Australian land and the corresponding internal landscape of the collective unconscious. From the desert indigenous cultures I learnt that the role of parenting was to be an active participator and carrier of cultural ceremony and decisions. Excellent as an empowering idea for western man, who drowns under the paternal stifling of bureaucracy and who fundamentally lacks education and practice, in the rites of passage of ones own† esoteric soul life and the subsequent development of an inner connection with the archetypal journey to the Self/ Indwelling Christ Spirit.
"Confirmation": 2m x1.2m, Acrylic on canvas. 1988.
Site: Parry's beach, Denmark on the SW coast of Western Australia.
Description: Against a dark grey background two figures are painted. The figure on the right has a series of motif about a central triangular pattern. These include upper left two patterns converging, bottom has a series of cup shaped motifs facing upwards/ receiving and on the right two egg shapes, one with a crocodile insert. The left figure has a series of motifs surrounding a central super circle. These include a snake, a spiral, a right hand spiral and a cassowary.
Cultural Context: Each generation has its dream/ meaning, which empowers the individual. I understand that my inherited dream was a western cultural dream of money and materialism. My intuitive rejected this inheritance and projected my quest for a sustainable dream. Hence the search for archetypal meaning/ dreaming. This led to experiments in-group consciousness living within spiritual communities, meditation within Australia's wilderness and cross-cultural communication with the craft language. Fifteen years latter a sub cultural community had emerged and was empowered with a common dream. This was environmentally sensitive and a witness to the universal planetary man. The poets, the artists, the creative quest in man had transcended industrial and technological blindness “the square” and are entering the journey towards a sustainable planet ethics, "the quest for the circle".
Story: After eight years pioneering in cultural isolation in Far North Queensland, we returned to the west where we had participated during the 70's in alternative back to the land community experiments. On returning we found a substantial population with alternative rural lifestyles. Thus immersing back into a supportive caring community was nourishing and strengthening to our tired pioneering spirit. This painting speaks of the stillness and wholeness I experienced on returning to this land and its people.
"Totems": 1m x1.4m. Acrylic on canvas. 1989.
Description: A red earth landscape with a profile of Mt. Wedge has a deep blue sky as its upper field. On the right is a large figure with breasts, a central Mandala of a square surrounding a seven-spoked wheel. To the left of the internal body is a tall black skinny bird and to the right is a grey crocodile. Waves of hair patterns flow from the right of the head which itself is full of elaborate patterning. The top centre of the painting is a white disc with concentric black lines and V patterns. The top left has the profile of a grey crow with a super circle and cross on its chest. Below is the profile of a black bandicoot with a golden super circle with cross on its hip. Across the bottom of the painting is the dance of tadpole like images.
Cultural Content: This is the narrative of animal consciousness that has haunted my internal journey. Their personalities, looks, synchronistic presence, have always empowered my wakefulness. This bandicoot is my adolescent friend. When threatened, it often hides its nose/ ego or persona, as this organ constantly shakes with nervous activity. The nose is the organ with which one smells and therefore has much to do with the function of intuition and the ability to tune into one's own unconscious. This sensitive intuitive, I associated with my indwelling Christ spirit and anima function. Its symbol is the triangle and reflects my internal search for spirit. The crow is mind, awaking the adult rational in the quest for "Huxley's Brave New World “ with Crows cry of ATTENTION! ATTENTION! Watching the play of life and death. The large feminine figure is interesting; in the movement of her hair it gives a sense of power and enriching extension into the conscious life process.
The circular motif was shown to me in the following dream: "I am led into a cave by an older Aboriginal man. He wears his long hair bound in a bun traditionally used by the central desert tribes. Inside the cave he shows me this symbolic drawing on the cave floor: At this point I had interpreted the triangle as a symbol for my spirit leading. Thus from my Christian background this would be the indwelling Holy Spirit, or from depth psychology represent the anima’s intuitive function. This symbol appears like an eye looking into my unconscious.
The spirit language on the bottom reflects the numinous connectedness of the conscious and unconscious life.
Story: This painting helps narrate the different ideas and internal influences in my journey. To honor the animal instincts was to acknowledge my first leading and grasp of a value that endured beyond the confusion and desolation of my cultural background. I saw the bandicoot as a scruffy rat like creature with no obvious likable traits and associated my childhood persona akin to this image. Yet by systematically trapping and caging these marsupials over a period of three years, I discovered an interesting and unique animal of enormous sensitivity and intelligence and who had a valid niche in the adjacent bush lands. This led me to trust my own gifts and accept my inherent natural goodness so unacknowledged by my family and culture.
So here I placed the intuit/ bandicoot into the same position I had placed the child in the "Desert" painting. The appearance of the wise Aboriginal mentor from my dream leading me through a rites of passage/ initiation into my unconscious, was a wonderful confirmation that throughout this precarious internal journey, I was accompanied by life forces that were to nourish and lead me.
Desert Oak Forest approaching Kata Tjuta
"Love Story": 2m x1m, Acrylic on canvas. 1990.
Site: Giles on the western edge of the Peterman Range.
Description: The painting has a red mountain profile against a upper half blue sky. Two figures appear on the left and middle. The male on the far left has a white square in the centre of the body. This has a black labyrinth drawn from a cross. About the central motif, a twelve-spoked wheel divides the body. Below the neck is an arched cup facing upwards. The female form has within her body a white triangle with a red cross and a large coiling snake filling up the right side of the body. To the right of the figures is the profile of a black tree, with faint hanging leaves. Dotted line patterns fill the tree. At the bottom right sits a black supercircle with white dots.
Cultural context: This painting was started when traveling from Kalgoorlie, Warburton, Giles, and Docker River to the Olga’s in Central Australia. Coming out of the flat sand hill country of the Great Western Dessert, the Gunbarrel highway meets the ancient spine of the Peterman ranges. Here I sensed a total fascination with the power of this landscape and its total isolation from the corruption of modern life.† I was amazed at how deeply connected I was with the desert and its diverse vitality. Amidst these plains we meet the first of the profound desert oak forests. These oaks are long lived grandfather trees, reaching proportions exceeding all the other desert trees apart from the great red river gums. The labyrinth represents the journey/quest we must make into the underworld/wilderness to find where we have always belonged. The cross and the snake are symbols of the feminine intuition of the spirit of creativity within life. The tree is the tree of life and the supercircle represents the self.
Story: To find the untapped well of belonging to the land and the sharing of this remarkable journey with my family awakened a new threshold of an epiphany, often interpreted as love and appreciation of life. Thus externally this honored the continuity and growth of relationship with Kate, my wife and the experience of wholeness we all witnessed on this journey. To embark on such a journey with such an old vehicle, tested our practical initiative. Thus once leaving all threads of outside cultural support we celebrated each day in this wild endless space with appreciation and a fullness of heart. The children were overshadowed by their heroic persona and stood connected and reliable co-adventures. At dawn upon reaching the Olga’s; the most sacred land site we had witnessed in all our travels throughout Australia; we found the night had dropped a down pouring of rain. The whole desert was a sheet of water and roaring torrents of water were cascading and streaming off the faces of this extraordinary citadel of wind-smoothed rock.
To witness the blessings such rain brings to the desert is to participate in the rejuvenation of the primary life spirit of primordial time. I speak of this synchronicity as but a small incident recurrent throughout our journey. Our lives had toned into the harmony of all incidence external and internal, only heard when we are in harmony with the continuum of nature.
"Desert": 2m x 1m; Acrylic on canvas. 1988.
Site: Mount Wedge, Western McDonald Ranges. Painted at Yuelamu.
Description: A small figure lies beneath the red profile of Mt Wedge. The yellow sky has a Buddhist 9 spoke wheel of life, floating on the left side of the picture, and on the right is a complimentary positioned super circle with cross. These two symbols of wholeness are black lines on white backgrounds. The child like figure is awake but shows no internal body patterns and has simple head patterns.
Cultural Context: Here at Mt Wedge, Ada Andy Napaltjarri, hosted us to visit one of her family’s most sacred sites. Pulka Karrinya is a permanent water hole of unusual size tucked in a hidden ravine amongst this range. This group of three mountains are dramatically visible from over 40 miles away, profiled off the endless flat red desert into the wheeling bright blue sky. On entering the numinous sanctuary, Ada was to call out to the ancestors spirits dwelling there, and after guiding us to each break off a branch of gum leaves, she instructed us to approach a tall vertical rock whom she addressed as grandfather, and each in turn walked around this monolith brushing it with our branches. This, we were told, let the grandfather spirit know who was visiting and thus not disturb the sacredness that such a rare resource represented in one of our planets greatest desert wildernesses. Throughout the distant past, when most other water holes dried up over long dry seasons, Ada's ancestors would have repeatedly retreated to this place, thankful for the life the water represented. Here we heard her songs sung with extraordinary empathy to this land. Often she was to paint this site on her canvases, and speak of the honey ant dreaming associated with this site, and Warumpi, 30 miles south, just outside Papunya; another water hole amongst a flat rocky outcrop. This was her families land, and her father Old Andy Tjungurrayi and her uncle Squeaky Mick Tjakamarra were the ceremonial custodians of these sacred places. We were privileged to witness women's ceremonies with dance and song for this honey ant dream and were carried out of our encultured perceptions into a memory tone of extraordinary antiquity and identification with the recognition that this outer landscape was also the inner landscape.
Story: I feel here a sense of waiting in the deep silence of the unconscious in a form of prayer/meditation. The vast desert, with its awesome landscape sites, invokes this in looking. Then as an uncluttered undifferentiated consciousness, I awaken to the eternal paradoxes leading me. The two archetypes of wholeness, one from my internal dark chthonic feminine life, the other from my external sun light cosmic masculine life; Each stand equal and numinous in the floating sky.
As modern man we can move into this wilderness inside ourselves/the vast unconscious, in wakeful child like innocence, and witness the primary duality of the darkness and the light. Hence learn to honor these metaphors of our great earth mother and great sky father in our wakeful consciousness.
Central Mount Wedge. NT
"The Journey": 2m x1m. Acrylic on canvas. 1989.
Site: Yuelamu, Central Australia.
Description: A red mountain profile is painted against a yellow sky. The bottom of the painting consists of a series of right-handed spirals and rectangular decoration, similar to the next painting done when returning to the forest. A bodiless figure on the left is jumping/running to the left, away from a central black snake which is moving up a white bolt of lightning, towards a Buddhist wheel of life which is nested next to the desert mountain. To the right a super circle with a cross is sitting in the land. The sky is filled with black star images.
Cultural Context: In 1980, St. Vincent De Paul society had brought Laotian refugees out from Asia. We worked with a few of these families of Laotian refugees in Innisfail, innovating a contemporary weaving industry. These families were from the S. E. Asian tropical rainforest and connected to powerful cultural knowledge of sustainable agriculture and survival skills from a war torn land. They taught us many skills in recognizing forest medicines, diet, dress, and temperaments harmonious to living an equatorial rainforest climate. We were washed with an integrated family and cultural worldview that came from the heart of a Buddhist culture. Lyntong and Oy Prenpathseuth became our wise older brother and sister, who across the wide rifts of another and fierce war torn tragedy, emphasized within our own lives, the commitment to the life bigger than ourselves. This life is referred to in the I Ching as the `Great Work'. Here as a family, we were being supported with trusting our intuitive, feminine qualities by a much more integrated culture, personified by these courageous and compassionate people, hence this emergence of the Buddhist wheel of life, as an Archetype of Wholeness.
Story: Here the journey is narrated with refreshing simplicity. Eastern and western vision is still externalized; not yet internalized, and the road of the snake, transformation to awaken the anima; the feminine eastern attributes. The clarity of the Great Western Desert is to activate the soul vision and the creativity; spirals, and dance; movement towards this goal. The eyes reflect the uncertainty of the lonely journey. The bottom line of rectangular decoration could depict the pragmatic connection with the earth.
Forest and Self Portrait
"Forest and Self Portrait": 90cm x 170cm. Acrylic on canvas. 1989.
Description: Three red trees in increasing perspective, appear from the right. The trunk on the right has a series of black anticlockwise spirals moving off a black zigzag and underlying rectangular pattern. This is a repetition of the pattern I used in my last painting created in the desert, "The Journey". A strong rectangular pattern fills the far right hand side of the trunk. A movement of tadpole shapes dance up the left hand side of this trunk. The middle tree has a series of concentric circles on the left hand side moving up the trunk in empathy with a black and grey sine wave. On the right side is a series of black Mandorla, the first appearance of this motif as decoration, along with a series of arrowhead shapes. The small tree is full of tadpole shapes, which move into the root tips. There is a figure directly below these roots with its head connecting to them. The white body is patterned with a series of eggs all interconnected by a fine thread. Inside this white body is a black circle with white sine wave, surrounding a central super circle with cross motif. This cross divides four spirals, the top two clockwise, the bottom two anticlockwise. Two white footprints appear on the centre left .The large one is mine, the small one my daughters.
Cultural Context: This is my first painting created after returning to the rainforest from our year long expedition into the Great Western Desert.
The tree being the tree of life from whose top flows the waters of eternal life.
Story: Back on the land that is my life long commitment, I experience being a part of this forest / this land, connected to its unconscious life; as narrated in the painting as belonging; an extension of the roots of the tree. Placing my footprint and my daughter’s footprint midst the forest is to remember the continuum of the brief journey we live midst the eternal garden. Some of the most potent experiences of sensing the numinous life force of the forest was in places uncluttered by human footprints and where my own would soon vanish.
Man You Destroy My Land
Site: Liverpool Creek.
"Man You Destroy My Land": Acrylic on canvas. 1992
Description: The painting depicts a black tree on the left with its crown facing down and a figure on the right. This figure has a black body outline and an upward facing ochre cup motif, both overprinted with a sine wave circle pattern. The internal aspect of the body is plain red. Two pendulous breasts are on the body. The head is yellow and sitting on its edge. The eyes are looking left and skywards. The mouth a clear large black shape.
Cultural Context: For ten years we had replanted and dreamt of protecting the canopy of native vegetation along our rainforest rivers. Thus creating a natural canopy corridor, connecting fragmented rainforest and enhancing the sustainability of our fragile wet tropic catchments and adjacent Great Barrier Reef.
Story: This interest in our own land and the protection and enhancement of the public lands in our valley was supported by most of the scientific leaders in our community. We understood we were pioneering a new model of diversity and sustainability in our agricultural community. I had grown up on the verdant Darling Downs of SE Queensland and witnessed the removal of a vast eucalyptus forest and adjacent brigalow scrub, and the subsequent encroachment of relentless drought and exhaustion of the fossil artesian water basin. Again in the SW of Western Australia, we bought 300 acres of rich Mediterranean climate agricultural land. Within ten years profound climate change turned this prime green land into a dusty scorched farmland.
Our remnant forest corridor belonged to several natural catchment corridors that were relentlessly diminished by a shortsighted industrial farmers and political forces in Government whose heavy machinery contracts senselessly destroyed the diversity of the public lands .
Considering this machinery was owned and run by local councilors family it was obvious the destruction of Liverpool creek integrity and public lands canopy was just earning $ for contractors with a loose loose for the community.
SELF PORTRAIT AS NUT 1
"SELF PORTRAIT AS NUT 1": 43 x 70 inches, Acrylic on canvas. 1993.
SELF PORTRAIT AS NUT 2
"SELF PORTRAIT AS NUT 2": 43 x 70 inches, Acrylic on canvas. 1993.
Description: An ochred body aches over the face of the painting. This body is full of a series of archetypes. From the foot extends a ladder to a pair of sine waves encircling three circles. Then a six-pointed star with a circle is placed on the thigh. On the hips is a dream motif, the stomach a Buddhist wheel of life, the solar plexus a Tibetan Mandala, the chest a supercircle and the hand concentric circles. Below the arched body is a central large grey tree, with a black and white Mandorla at its base. To the left is a figure with a cross inside a supercircle as its central body motif. The figure has its head on one side and its head looking to the right into the face of the arched figure. A yellow square along the bottom of this arched body is full of many colored tadpole shapes.
The external background consists of a series of interconnected series of dotted concentric circles joined by a dotted line, following the arch of the figure. Outside sympathetic patterning reinforces the grid, with two tracks from the upper left and right striking down into the grid. Internally a semicircle of alternating black and yellow rectangles forms a differentiated background different to the external background.
Story: A month later I repainted the same story but replaced the burning angry image with the tree of life including the Mandorla at its base.
Here in the rainforest we again witnessed the needless destruction of public land. The incessant urge of people to destroying remnant forest was a tangible demonstration of the active cultural shadow of violence. Thus in an organized campaign, my local farming neighbors burnt all the public lands surrounding my property and incinerated six years of forest regrowth. Angry, frustrated, bewildered, I thus painted Nut the Egyptian sky goddess and for the first time used oil paints to capture and express my mood.
From this confrontation, emerged a vigorous economic power base of men who controlled my community; Cane grower’s presidents, Mill managers, Shire Clarks and their beauracratic officers and the local fertilizer agents. These men had the power to direct the police to act as armed thugs of intimidation and many of the local government officers armed with white paper legislative law, to visit and threaten the validity of our housing codes, property survey, vehicle registration, health laws etc. The mill and council actively and illegally destroyed our organic and Demeter organic-non-spray status by needlessly spraying herbicides on our land and its surrounding watershed. Using machinery, they actively destroyed the public canopy alongside our public road; this road was part of the first acknowledged and sign posted "Rainforest Canopy Corridor" in Australia, and of which our property was central to. Thus my engagement continued with what looked like the engineered communities Mafia, and its power to flaunt State legislative acts protecting public lands and individual rights.
Thus ended my political naivety. This sparked a clear point of demarcation from my youthful quest into the blunt reality of contemporary man.
From a vision of participating in my children’s sustainable future, to the apparent objective reality I was facing in my immediate environment.
Yes, the dream, the vision carried with courage and commitment, another frame of value not strongly sufficient, to retain the grandfather trees that held the memory of the river banks, and protected the magic dells where nature spirits impressed into my silence. The clear water was now turbid and depleted. Was not our work to actively rebuild and nurture this vestige of the planet’s oldest life? Did not our education in the sciences request this?
Did we fail our grandchildren's heritage? What was to become of us?
This Mafia, the organized criminal syndicates within the community, with these potent death wishes, was and still is corrupting my culture and we are taken to a place where no one achieves the quest for wholeness. These captains of economics and power lead us to bankruptcy. As their neighbor, family, brother, I ask myself; what is my work?
Will I continue to tirelessly rescue their children’s self esteem and talented gifts as an educator, and replant the land, which has been destroyed a hundred times over. I am tired; my children are strong yet I fear for their great work. Here I leave the outer world of culture and seek inner transformation of another way. A gift of rebirth into the Great Dream; I am empty and I wait.
The Mandorla holds the most comfort in this waiting.
Is it my anima; my intuitive feminine that will regenerate my courage; Libido.
Transformation of my anger toward acceptance, here is the activity of the archetype carrying my own shadow rage into the company of compassion and enduring acceptance.
Self Portrait 5
" Self Portrait": 34 x57 inches. 1992.
Site: Japoonvale, Wet tropics, Nth Queensland.
Description: A human figure is central to the painting. To the right is a large bird image in a dancing posture .The background is a swirling matrix of design technique about the central figure. Contained within the length of the body are a series of four archetypal images of wholeness, Super circle with cross/ at chest level, Buddhist wheel of life/ at stomach, Tibetan Mandala /at hips, and concentric circles/ at thigh. The arms are decorated with zigzag and sine wave patterns. The head has 3 dominant semi circles facing upwards. There is a necktie decorated with circles. The bird has a super circle with a cross in its stomach and concentric circles at the base of its outstretched wings. There are large pendulous breasts on this bird.
Cultural Context: Image of self with a mentor/ guide/ feminine wisdom/ Anima. I see the clear internalizing of previously externalized archetypes of wholeness. The west symbolized by the super circle with cross/ from the Nordic chariot wheel of Thor, or the Celtic Cross, placed over the heart / lungs. The Eastern symbolized by the wheel of life on the stomach/ power centre, and squaring the circle/a Tibetan Mandala on the reproductive creative centre. The Great Western Desert archetype is on the thigh/ leg/ movement. The persona represented by the tie is an acknowledgement of belonging to my contemporary culture within its power base. The body/ sensation and intuitive, life is rich, interconnected and activated. The mind/thought pattern has 4 receptacles facing down picking up the life coming from the darkness/ earth sympathizing with 3 receptacles facing upwards to the heavens/ light Sun God. A synchronizing harmonic appears to reflect a mind in harmony.
The Spirit Bird invokes an intuition of wisdom, activity, wholeness, reminiscent of other cane sculptures "Tully Gorge Spirit" 1986, and paintings, "Great Billed Heron-Grandfather" 1989. I sense, this is living in the wakefulness of my internal feminine leading, my anima. The background places this painting in the realm of the cosmic consciousness / the metaphoric world of the collective unconscious / the Dreamtime. The central desert community’s pluck the arm pit feathers of the plain turkey and use them in their women's dancing ceremonies. There is this close association with the circles/ sacred symbols in the armpits.
Special Qualities: This painting constitutes the resolution of witnessing the fierce paradoxes of the external world as explored repetitively in previous paintings, and projected/ represented as ideas outside myself. Here they are internalized for it is the most complete narrative so far, and is personifying the over shadowing influence of a positive anima figure.
Story: All the archetypes combine to awaken consciousness and the external paradoxes are digested/ assimilated to reinstate an image of Contemporary Man. The mentor is the awoken Feminine Wisdom, personified by the bird, and her metaphor of the guide for Self. Thus the reality of a soul life against the eternal movement of life is the search/ quest of Contemporary Man.
" Mandala": 78cm x56cm. Acrylic on canvas. 1992.
Description; The form of a Tibetan Mandala dominates this painting. The central motif is a black super circle, with a cross. About this, the black corners of a square form a boundary between an inner and an outer world. The square has its side’s open and a corresponding line sitting outside and adjacent to these openings. The inner aspect of the square has two mountain profiles with a small figure lying inside the mountain. The figure has a white head with unopened eyes and a black body. Swirling vortexes of pattern rotate about the central super circle. Outside the broken square are two inter-connected fields of white concentric circles in a grid pattern. Four black background archetypes float amid these grids. A binary split, a tertiary; triangular pattern; a Quartered, four-spoked wheel; and a double armed swastika with left and right arms included. The background color is red.
Cultural Context: “The Sanskrit word “mandala” means ‘circle'. It is the Indian term for the circle drawn in religious rituals."(Carl Jung C.W.9/1 p355).
Following the classic Mandala pattern, based on squaring the circle, the painting maps out from the centre, an image of the Self-enclosed by the fields of duality/paired opposites that make up the total personality. This totality comprises consciousness first of all, followed by the personal unconscious, and finally an infinitely large segment of the collective unconscious whose archetypes are common to all man" (Carl Jung C.W.9/1 Cf.p357.) Thus the self, the super circle with the cross, is central. The child figure is interesting in that the mind is white; the masculine sun element, not yet conscious or awake; "One of the essential features of the child motif is its futurity. The child is potential future."(C.W.9/1Cf.p164). The black body also is undifferentiated with no internal story. The wheeling central design reminds me of Maya, the field of illusion; the wheel of life to which the soul enters and leaves on birth and death. The external field I feel represents the great cosmic matrix of universal nature. Thus the heavens and their movements are represented. Midst these cycles, primary archetypes of energy have emerged; the binary, tertiary, quarter and spiral developments.
I recognize that in times of my inability to hold my life meaning in a tone perspective, I will weave or paint a Mandala. This is a self-help healing process and regenerates a connection to my central life.
Story: This was painted immediately after "Self Portrait" and preceded from a need to refocus my internal abstract self and centre the large amount of psychic energy activated by the previous painting. When new horizons are viewed for the first time I often experience the need to assimilate the past into this new perspective, and thus neutralize the danger of intoxication; inflation of the humble grasp I have on my consciousness.<
"Archetypal Cosmology": 68 x 111 inches, Acrylic on canvas. 1992.
Description: About a right hand spiraling vortex, six archetypes of wholeness wheel about a central series of concentric circles of white dots on a black background. The symbols are from the left Buddhist wheel of life, Tibetan squaring the circle Mandala, Triangle with an internal triangle, Super circle with a cross, Black cross on a red background surrounded by a white circle and Black and white motif from a dream of "Totems".
On the left is the tree of life decorated with interrelating tadpole and circle shapes. The bottom and right hand corner of the painting is full of human forms. Those on the far left and right have their eyes closed.† There are tree tall black birds on the lower right. These have circle, square and triangle body motifs. A series of footprints, track across the top of the painting.
Cultural Context: The tree is the tree of life. The people on the left represent those who are to be born in the future.
I believe for the introvert that, participation in the cultural art experience, has resonating repercussions throughout your culture. Even if these activities are not public.† From 25 years of working with the finer subtle energies of my culture I experienced that none of us are isolated but are interconnected in all our cultural great work and shadow life. I believe the fear, which manifests as violence and scapegoating by the local Mafioso, Power Shadow, is somehow a response to the depth my grail quest had entered into the unconscious in search for the wholeness of consciousness so lacking in contemporary life.
My family does not move with the herd yet where we move the herd follows. For this to be understood I will reiterate the role of a fashion artist. I have often pioneered a design lets say for example: a wire hanging basket, and found it to be on the cutting edge of fashion and hence not widely accepted. Hence the need for niche marketing. Then 5-6 years later the wide economic culture has adopted this design as part of its regional contemporary material culture/ TRADEMARK. Often by this time I have moved onto new fields of design and witness many crafts people financially benefiting from my earlier research. Also it became apparent that as I was pioneering a design, other designers on other parts of the world were also responding to similar design tones. This globally interconnectedness, of waves of impulses inspiring new designs and ideas simultaneously, in sensitized people, has emerged and been verified again and again.
This painting is seeking the Tao of light and darkness- the middle way awakes vast amounts of cultural consciousness and a compensatory amount of cultural unconscious shadow life in the form of destructive hubris.
Commentary on Language and Symbols
Archetypal Language: From the age of seventeen, when first Carl Jung introduced me to the “I Ching” in its introduction. I appreciated the Depth Psychology language as a tool for grasping the primary images of meaning abounding within my internal world's Grail Quest.
The premise of the collective unconscious and its metaphoric foundation blocks, that have been called archetypes, gave me a succinct conscious tool for unraveling my epic introverted journey. As autistic as I was in extroverted communication intelligence; I had a natural gift of introverted intrapersonal relationship intelligence, thus ventured easily amidst my internal worlds and their landscapes.
With the crafts I greatly empowered this natural gift of introversion, for with the discipline of simple repetitive manual weaving, my meditations and long thoughts found a harmonious pragmatic backdrop. Sometimes I was washed with single ideas for months and years, such as the decoding of squaring the circle.
Geometrically with compass, a straight edge and pencil, I had constructed the super circle. Was I crafting it by taking long single lengths of cane; the straight line being the primary structure of the square and I associated as number two and a masculine metaphor; then producing circular vessels; I associated with number one, and a feminine metaphor; the result, a basket, being a tangible validation of a classical paradoxical riddle. A symbolic trophy of my Grail Quest to awaken my feminine and masculine temperaments, the Tao or middle way between the two great cosmic paradox of light and darkness. Here in the eternal forest of the collective unconscious a lone humble alchemist was solving the primary riddle of life's meaning by honoring his craft.
So primarily I found the ideas of depth psychology difficult to hold, and impossible to communicate about to my fellow man. These metaphors that alluded to internal characters and process of metamorphosis were not exactly comfortable dialogue with my community. Yet as an artist, the tangible evidence of this internal world in the practical and not so practical woven forms, gave me an interface with my extroverted, material dominated community. I believe my large vessels with their heavily scrolled borders and heroic thick cane gave me a lead back into the heart of my materialistic culture.
I had read Jung's ideas of how the circle was a primary archetypal symbol of wholeness, throughout human history. This circle filled eight years of repetitive physical hand crafting; my daily mantra; an automatic life lived by my hands and body; kinesthetic intelligence, releasing my mind to objectively watch a great parade of thoughts and emotions to wash past my consciousness, yet not own. Quickly the staccato short thoughts disappeared and the quiescent long thoughts appeared. Modern man was working in squares and linear manifestations; nature was a random interaction of circular patterns. From the dawning of my adolescent value perception, I recognized that the culture I was born into, was in severe crisis. The paradigms of modern materialism were unsustainable and the quest for wholeness in the individual was seemingly unattainable in the lives of my surrounding families and community. My grail quest was a personal journey to discover the process of wholeness in my life.
Thus I anticipated the task of awakening my anima, the feminine aspect of my unconscious. I had enough personal experience to recognize being anima possessed, i.e. overwhelmed by a potent irrational spirit and led off into chaos. Yet with consciousness I sought the attributes of this fabled internal feminine companion; the souls life, breath.
For many years the circle represented the urge to awaken her leading in my life, through intuition and idealistic life style. Yet it was not until the painter was awoken that I moved quickly into grasping the archetypes and their transcendental shape changing qualities.
Primarily I used Euclidean Sacred Geometry as my disembarking point. With pure numbers and forms for my language, I evaded the labyrinths of mythological personification. Thus kept my mind empty and my intuit function continued to flourish. The primary forms of a circle, square and triangle, and the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, were enough for many years work as I witnessed their effects on my consciousness. Thus with only four primary earth pigments and simple imagination this painting narrative evolved.
I will list the pattern language and my archetypal interpretation, even though seemingly suitable for a season, this interpretation will progress through a transformation and carry consciousness into an entirely new form of perception and understanding.
Circle: This appears to be the fundamental archetype I explored. I will expand on its emergence. Initially I believe the circle was associated as a sun symbol-unmistakably with the worship of the light.
Above are five sun motifs found at New Grange, megalithic Irish stone carvings. "Throughout European pre history sun symbolism can be found as far back as Ancient Egypt, where the hieroglyph for the sun god Ra was also a circle with a centre. We arrive at the conclusion that megalithic culture was very wide spread over our globe. The symbols for the sun were everywhere the same, only the way in which they were combined and their style showed any variation. The symbol of the sun is also identical with the form in the oldest European cult centers. "(Sun and Cross.p32 Jakop Streit, Floris Books. 1984)
"I was able to recognize the circle as a Mandala, the psychological expression of the totality of the self."(Carl Jung C.W.9.1 p304.)
I also associated the circle with number one and my discipline of weaving the cane vessels, which represented a three-dimensional circle, a sphere.
Straight line: This is represented by the number two and represented the masculine linear sequential thinking attributes which dominate Western materialism,
Triangle: This is the number three and I associated it with the Christian image of the indwelling Christ spirit/ the internal voice/ my intuitive function. Many of my baskets had a triangular element, such as the "Wombs" and the "Women's Hip Chairs" both expressing my attempts to give my feminine character a form. The triangle also revealed how as a glass prism white light/ Sun/ Father metaphor is transformed into the rainbow/ the colors of the Earth Mother and provides an interpretation of the Creative Rainbow Snake of the Dreamtime templating on the Christian/ Christ metaphor.
Concentric circles: These of course are a theme of the sun circle motif but specifically I wish to mention their association with the central desert tribes as denoting a sacred site. Often these sites are associated with water holes, and as important ceremonial places from the Dreamtime's ancestral activities. To see the timeless rocks etched with dotted concentric circles validated my personal quest of a disciplined meditation on this primary motif. Completely detached from any contemporary conscious cultural leading or support, I finally found a historic cultural reference to my archetypal quest.
Sine waves: I see the sine wave is synonymous with the snake metaphor. Specifically I wish to elaborate on the Geometric progression inferred by this symbolism.
When two circles come together and cross over we see the development of the Viscera Pisces and the primary movement out of the stillness and completeness of the circle. This is the production of the sine wave and templates the model of cosmic energy in the form of light, sound etc. Thus I see the sine wave as a symbol of this movement of our primordial life forces.
Zigzags; Egyptian hieroglyph†† = nu = water.
†††††††††††††† Chinese sign††††††††††††† = shui = water
†††††††††††††† Semitic letter††††††††††††† = mem =water
("Sun and Cross" Jakop Streit, Floris Books. 1984) Again, another metaphor for the unconscious.
Egg: .It is not just a cosmology symbol - it is also a "philosophical one. As the former it is the Orphic egg, the world's beginning; as the latter, the philosophical egg of the medieval natural philosophers, the vessel from which, at the end of the opus alchymicum, the homunculus emerges, that is, the Anthropos, the spiritual, inner man and completed man, who in Chinese alchemy is called the chen-yen (literally: "Perfect Man").(Carl Jung C.W.9.1par529)
Swastika: "a left hand movement indicates movement towards the unconscious, while a rightward (clockwise) movement goes towards consciousness." (Cf.C.W.9. p320)
Super circle with cross; Squaring the Circle is of great importance to the geometer-cosmologist because for him the circle represents pure, unmanifest spirit-space, while the square represents the manifest and comprehensible world. When a near-equality is drawn between the circle, the infinite is able to express its dimensions or qualities through the finite. ("Sacred Geometry"p7.1)
Bowl motif: "the viewpoint of man `the bowl' is the motif of an attitude of acceptance, of receiving. It is the attitude of homo religiosus, a readiness to become a spiritual receptacle. It is the prerequisite of a spiritual quest, of prayer, of the ability to receive revelation. In the mythic experience of the macrocosm the moon represents the motif of the bowl. The moon-bowl that empty and replenish themselves rhythmically in the phases of the moon reveal reception followed by surrender of the sun's light." (Comments on the bowl motif in New Grange rock engravings in Ireland Cf "Sun and Cross"p35. Jakop Streit, Floris Books. 1984)
Mandala: "As I have said, Mandala means circle. There are innumerable variants of the motif, but they are all based on squaring the circle. Their basic motif is the premonition of a centre of personality, a kind of central point within the psyche, to which everything is related, by which everything is arranged, and which is itself a source of energy. The energy of the central point is manifested in the almost irresistible compulsion and urge to become what one is, just as every organism is driven to assume the form that is characteristic of its nature, no matter what the circumstances. This centre is not felt or thought of as the ego but, if one may so express it, as the self. Although the centre is represented by an innermost point, it is surrounded by a periphery containing everything that belongs to the self-the paired opposites that make up the total personality. This totality comprises consciousness first of all, then the personal unconscious, and finally an indefinitely large segment of the collective unconscious whose archetypes are common to all mankind." (Carl Jung C.W.Cf.9.1 p357) Snake:
Crow: I associate the crow with George Orwell's "1980" Attention 1 attention! the mind a sequential rational process
Anima: The anima (the female soul) of a man is also his fate, an eternal pattern that is mirrored in every mother, wife and lover. "It belongs to him, this perilous image of Women; she stands for the loyalty which in the interests of life he must forgo; she is the much needed compensation for the risks, struggles and sacrifices that all end in disappointment; she is the solace for all the bitterness in life. And, at the same time, she is the great illusionist, the seductress, who draws him into life with her Maya.... Because she is his greatest danger, and if he has it in him, she will receive it." (Carl Jung C.W.9, II, para24.)