Friday, August 5, 2011

Hanging a painting


A long week both at work and at home. The latter has comprised moving house - a work in progress.

But this evening, amidst the chaos, I was able to hang my favourite painting - 'The Dream Bearer' by Thetis Blacker. It was painted for me using her own original technique a transformed, unique version of batik. It is a technique that makes her work instantly recognizable and luminously beautiful.

We met originally at breakfast at Dartington Hall during the first Temenos conference. We found ourselves sitting opposite one another and having been introduced by the poet, Kathleen Raine, Thetis inquired, "Are you a poet? You look like a poet". "Sadly not," I replied, "but I do dream"! What possessed me to describe myself thus I do not know but it hit exactly the right, a perfect, note.

Thetis was a remarkable dreamer (indeed she produced a book of them, and they read like short stories) and we exchanged dreams over the breakfast table and became firm friends. It was a deep pleasure to visit her at her Surrey cottage, overlooking the Downs, where she worked, for lunch and conversation.

Her art is rooted in an exploration of myth as heightened and personalized in her own dream life. The learning soaked into her consciousness and dream responded with a motif, a starting point, which then unfolded with its own inner spiritual logic, movements of vision. As she herself wrote:

"Because I am an artist, and many of my friends are artists, when we are together the conversation always returns to this same subject: Vision. That mysterious, marvelous, illuminative, unpredictable, astonishing gift. The artist strives for complete and constant perception, and to enact as well as to SEE that Vision. Yet what we do experience, even great seers such as Blake, is a series of peep-holes into that unified and greater reality. When we are in a state of vision we can see the pattern and meaning of things. These times come in waking or in sleeping dreams. Winifred Nicholson called them "Glimpses". Almost always they come unexpectedly. They are moments of truth, not flimsy fantasies, these moments of perception become "touchstones" to which one can always refer. "


'The Dream Bearer' is of a fabulous bird that flies from the dark of night into the light of day, a greeting sun, and in its beak it carries a twig of olive. Night dreamt rightly is a carrier of peace.


Her's was an art that could be both intensely personal and public and celebratory, as here in Winchester Cathedral, her banners on the old and new creation, that decorate the space each Lent in the movement towards Easter when the creation is made new.



"The artist should be able to open the eyes of the viewer to that divine, sacred nature within everything,"she wrote and that was her pilgrimage.

It was a painting of Thetis' that was the first I ever bought - a seed, flaming and brilliant, descending from the cosmic tree to earth the world with sacred life.

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