In these first posts I am going to describe the creative process leading to the production of artworks for “Accompany”, an exhibition scheduled for May and June 2017 at Creative with Nature Workshop and Gallery.
The idea for this exhibition began with a semi-abstract painting called “To be Met” completed in January 2017. I made this painting using a method I often employ involving just sitting before a blank canvas and allowing spontaneous ideas for colour and shape to take form. It is a process of following an impulse, trying to be aware of when it gets blocked, dissolving the block and allowing the impulse to flow again.
Narratives might begin to form about things I see in the painting, and this can be part of developing a ‘relationship’ with it. For example in “To be Met” below, I saw a ceremony taking place.
I didn’t think too much about this painting after its completion, but a few weeks later it came back to me during a shamanic path-working journey with my friend Jen.
Path-working journeys are imaginary walks into places that cannot be accessed in the real world. In this case we were journeying to the Land Between (between life and death) to help us find ways of relating to the experience of dying. Jen’s journey was about a ceremony, and mine was a walk with my mother via a walled garden to the shores of a lake.
Around this time my neighbour, Karen Alderson told me about her project the secret life of objects. As Jen’s journey is set in a real place (near Heysham) and inspired by Karen’s walking project, I decided to go to this place and do a medicine walk for my art practice.
One way of describing a medicine walk is that it is an embodied experience with the landscape that mirrors one’s inner world in some way and brings new awareness to a question, issue or challenging situation.
My intention for this walk is to look for ways to approach the subject of dying, and develop these ideas in a series of art works.
I am also influenced by a curiosity to find where my training as an artist and in shamanism overlap and inform each other. I trained as an artist from 1986-89, and later in film from 2002-04 and, for over 10 years have practiced shamanic journeying and medicine walking after completing a 3-year training in 2008. Nick Totton describes medicine walking in this way:
The task is to move through a territory holding a question about one’s life, and attend to what one encounters.
(Totton, 2011: 133)
In my next blog I will describe the walk.