This blog is my effort to understand my own paintings that were completed over a long period of time.
All marks that we make have meaning. As an art therapist I have understood meaning on behalf of other people. Now, it’s my turn.
This image – Spirit over the Void is my painting of the dawning of the Holy Spirit, brooding over the dark and making sense of chaos.
I was doing doctoral studies when an acquired brain injury stopped me abruptly. Someone brought me my mobile phone as I lay in my hospital bed. I had no idea how to use it. I looked at the figures and they made as much sense as hieroglyphs. I struggled to keep going. For six, or nearly seven years I was bed bound/housebound and my survival relied on a MacBook Air that was light enough for me to lift and lay on top of my chest in my bed. The neurologist encouraged me to keep writing. This writing is motivated partially by that and by my desire to make sense of art and spirituality.
The artwork in this banner is part of a larger painting called ‘Spirit over the Void’. The Director of the Theology college where I was doing my thesis asked me to leave because of it – it was “too dark”. I enquired how the story in Genesis, where light came into the darkness and the void could be depicted without darkness? So for seven years I lay fallow. The story of my miraculous healing will have to be told elsewhere – in my blog.
My interest is in imagery and ‘spirituality’. I could have called it ‘theology’, indeed, I am still not sure what the difference is. Perhaps I’ll work that out here . A FaceBook post said, “Religion is what is left when the Holy Spirit has left.” I reckon ‘theology’ is trying to work out and formulate what on earth has been happening in your spiritual life in relation to biblical knowledge.
I am a retired art psychotherapist. I have always been intrigued by the healing powers of imagery, painting, drawing, art installation and the like. I hold that paintings can ‘speak things’ that are too hard to put into words. Spiritual imagery is a case in point, and by that I don’t mean classic pictures of books with candles, madonnas, and stained glass windows. The image may hold a key item in it that demands to be interpreted. Sometimes I get imagery in my mind’s eye that has a message in it for me and sometimes for others. The first time I ever got a full-blown vision I was so frightened that I would forget it before telling anyone that it drew it. I had the advantage that at art school (The Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art, Oxford University) we did an exercise that consisted of viewing an object, walking into the next room, and there, drawing that object. It improves visual memory no end!
The Hebrew word for ‘dream’ and for ‘vision’ is the same. I make no difference between interpretation of either. Does doing a drawing introduce a new element? Well, yes, it can. The real question is whether the new element is valid, is God-given or not.
Part of my interest is in seeing whether people have the same interpretations as I do, or if they are radically different. I know that I do not always have an interpretation and see that as a function of ‘the body of Christ’ where a speaker may not have an interpretation. This, in the same way that glossolalia may not be understood by the speaker, but may be interpreted by a listener.
Update 29 Feb 2016/ An interesting set of thoughts from Jennifer LeClaire: