Pythagoras said that the most divine art was that of healing. And if the healing art is most divine, it must occupy itself with the soul as well as with the body; for no creature can be sound so long as the higher part in it is sickly – Apollonius of Tyana.
It’s been a small break as time, function and home has become changed in the last few months. During this time there has been a flux within many of the truths that I had used to navigate and understand the world. The issues have mostly been around values. The collation of the upcoming gallery in the new Verena Holmes building has been central in this falling upwards. Each piece like a piece of my visceral self-identity.
As the exposure of this creative paradigm creeps forward, I have to reassess my position within my home, friendships and society. As I feel we all are falling asleep to the truth that bonds us, the reason we are together now on this spinning globe. To love in the truest of meanings and to be loved.
Within a recent podcast delivered by three Jungian analysts (known by Pythagoras as a theorem hahaha) they were talking about the way we yearn to belong. Many of the points I felt symbiotic with, but they were limited and at times too sure. I am sat at a pivot between thinkers and would have welcomed being at the table when Freud and Jung disagreed on the classics of the self-identity.
So there was a talk of an extrovert associating with objects as if they held significance greater than their actual structural reality. To me it’s not about that…. it’s about threads and ethereal bridge links. To me it’s about association, so if elements or belongings go then it’s like having a stroke. There is a genuine absence and creating a new neural pathway is the only way to appease the mind. If one is removed, the fear is an inability to find your way back or forward, or even worse find the true self in the present. So belonging is vital but for me it involves the death of self.
We must be more aware of solution through rupture… thinking about loss of connection pushes more towards simple senses and draws closer to truth.
If my consciousness 1 could sing to consciousness 2 (Jung) it would be the song “Lean on me” by Bill Withers. Jung felt that we all have a reality and a fantasy consciousness. The balance should be sought through navigating much like the work of Confucius suggests. The true and false self-paradigm that exists within us all. I, and other heretical thinkers, liken this to the liminal space between the infinite and finite/material and ethereal.
So, throughout the blogs there are themes. These are needing greater analysis as it’s within this that you draw closer to the paradigms of a reality, the liminal and the infinite (however fleeting). The sense of self is rooted and must be called upon but by an ego that is truly broken. As only in the demise of the false self, do we begin to live.
I was going to fill this blog with vitriol about patriarchal systems and predatory masculinity but, that toxicity and social poison is endangered as suggested in ‘The Descent of Man’ by Grayson Perry.
I was going play with words and shallow hide my intense sadness at male ignorance. As Fyodor Dostoyevsky suggests that is the route to the ever-changing truth. The hatter is more than that, it’s my consciousness allowing movement between the reality and the fantasy.
In my recent journeys and chance encounters I have been gifted people who are so beautiful, but none have got close to the soul that busts with compassionate love. So much so I feel I get made better simply by being near him. He emanates wisdom and care. He holds the position of LOVE at the kintsugi table of unknowing and I am so happy to call him my friend and brother Dr Jonathan Barnes. In complete honesty he should be a social prescription and his voice is so sweetly resonant within the art and my personal healing.
So, the opening link to Apollonius of Tyana is central to the poetic nursing heart and the gathering of butterfly ? flames ?. Many are now in practice and are having a creative impact. But it goes deeper than that as legacy of creative consciousness is an ultralight root and one I tend to as the butterfly farmer. But before I finish with that poem, I need to set the gallery as a pronoun statement. The gallery will be it/they… fluidity and awareness is central to my expression.
As what is needed now more than ever is validation of the feminine male soul. The greatest personal icon for me was David Bowie. Since his death I feel that bridge needs rebuilding and placing back in the consciousness of people as they become polarised and hate filled.
So please consider this ?
The Butterfly Farmer
Looking up through the trees
Tending to the chrysalis as the jewel of possibility,
Each thought a new butterfly,
There he is, sat in his meadow under the talking tree,
Opening a small ornate box, the hinges creaking,
Each chrysalis splits and the new form pushes into the new world,
First to emerge awareness, then existence, followed by consciousness and becoming,
Wing ink left and drying as the muscle and sinew is stretched out in preparation,
The farmer is simply there,
Looking on in agape love and peace,
Watching as each jewel emerges and catches the warming morning sun,
The meadow fills with sweet heat, and summer possibility,
Organic, pure, real and owned,
The skies above the farmer fill with the soft sound of butterfly wings,
He falls back resting against the assurance of the talking tree, knowing it’s done,
Lungs full and heart happy.
This is what he always wanted,
A space of safety for the fragile, beautiful butterflies.
Thank all those who have supported me in this journey of brokenness and pain. Thank you for knowing, and still loving. The gallery is coming, and it holds all I need to say.
Response to The Creative Heart
It takes me months to reach the same page as you Tom. In every conversation and written piece I am challenged with the unexpected. You share fresh, imaginative, value-laden, valuable and difficult, ideas in each interaction, but like seeds on the stony ground of my mind, it takes a while (and the right conditions) for the miracle of quickening to take place. In The Creative Heart five words stand out for me: healing, love, belonging, fear and feminine. The feelings that arise as I read occur in the space between knowing and unknowing; self and being outside one’s self. Your thoughts, captured in words and gallery images, take me viscerally to unfamiliar places in creativity, art and humanity.
Creativity both human and animal, tends towards healing. To be healed involves loosening the grip of fear and hopelessness. The restorative effect of creative action tends to weaken the isolating sense self as an island and bridge us to others. This characteristic ability in humans of being able to create environments, artifacts, images relationships, sounds, silences or situations where fear is allayed, pain soothed, confidence regained, must rate among the highest of human achievements. The best of worded, pictorial, movement and sound arts consciously aim, or inadvertently generate, states of mental and physical healing that reduce fear. The arts undoubtedly also exist within frameworks of values and this is where for every caring profession our role in building cultures is so crucial. The arts exist in good or bad, destructive or constructive, inclusive or exclusive cultures. Their power to heal and dispel fear depends upon the climate in which they are brought forward. The Creative Heart introduces us to art-making and art experienced in the gently uncertain world between self and eternity, brokenness and repair. This fluid, dynamic , sensitive and sensitising world, framed by and rooted in love and suggests as you say Tom, the feminine.
The attributes of sensitivity, gentleness, nurture, attention to fine detail and feeling have long been associated with the feminine. When linked to the universal value of love in its widest interpretation, the arts become a dynamic and intimate medium for positive change. They make meaning for us and at the same time take us out of ourselves. In the ecstatic dimensions of connection and selflessness, poetry, music making, painting, and making of any kind depend upon those classically feminine virtues linked with creation. The arts flourish in conditions of security, warmth and tender personalised attention and that same environment is essential for good nursing, teaching, social work and all public facing professions. The attitudes and skills of the good nurse are rehearsed not just in the knowledge of nursing, but in the collaborative, uncertain, unlearning and playful mindsets of good art making.
Acutely conscious of my numberless failings I am definitely unworthy of the honour of representing love at any table. When love itself is honoured and linked with creation however, that manifestation of the inherent creativity within us and between us works to dissolve fears and loosen the hold of our traumas. We are encouraged by your words and work Tom to build new personal narratives based on affirmative values, thriving in a serving community of co-creating meaning-makers – the creative heart becomes the engine of the process of our own healing so we can help heal others.
Dr Jonathan Barnes
Response to Being Walked through The Creative Heart
Yesterday was a privilege, and a healing for things buried deep. Tom, you speak of healing and yet you are the healer – by profession and by your creative self. By what you give of yourself, by your raw exposure of inner self, by building your art on the foundation of the words of your assessment, you help the understanding of the root to so much of who we are, who we have become and how we can be free. The first image, the wax light extinguished as the work drew to a close, is so powerful. Completed during Chanukah – a freedom festival of lights, renewal and rededication – the natural unintended additional layer of spirituality and hope felt symbolic of the hope in the depths of despair and raw pain. You speak of and visually represent belonging and values. These drew me in to the gold amid the black; the very blackness with gold validating any pain and confusion within at a deeper level than the conscious self permits. Belonging exists on so many levels, and the values that permeate throughout the gallery felt like the threads that pull together the spiritual self and the places where we belong – religion, nature, social conscience, friendship, past experiences and the push against all that limits the people we care for and want to nurture – including ourselves. The only way to say this is that She touched my soul and enabled me to speak truths with you.
Being a part of the connectiveness made Jonathan and Cherry’s pieces touch my soul so very deeply. I was drawn to them, unable to look away and feeling their pain, knowing this too was a part of the healing you offer and provide. The words – yours and those of others, sent electrifying connections through me, flashing like the gold in your images. Jessica’s Reclamation, words read through the red of the petals, so powerful, so healing, speaking of the feminine realities that are shared on different levels by more women than society wants to acknowledge, touched me again deep within. Thinking of Alex, as we walked through, knowing his journey, his generosity of self, again added to the depths. Whoever truly takes this journey with you will bring their own stories, their own truths, their own pain and their own healing.
The threads too fine to be picked up were again spiritual. They took me to Maimonides (C 12th) discussing the inability of capturing what God is, as by trying to define, we lose something of the truth and the essence of God. The threads we unpick in ourselves, our lives, our society, are too fine to gather. Everything is interconnected and if we are not careful with the threads, how can we heal ourselves and those we love.
Ultimately, it is the healing that stays. The calm at the end in such a deep place within, stays and enables consideration of things otherwise left untouched, unexplored unreconciled. There is light, but only if there is darkness. In the Beginning we come from darkness, void, yet there was ruach, the spirit. The first act of creation was that of Light and it was good. The need for that light runs through the gallery, the gold that shines. But it can only exist if there is darkness, and the gallery shows us that we need the darkness, the darkness is ok, we can accept the darkness, befriend what it brings us and come to light and to calm. As with the butterfly, we are reborn.
Thank you Tom.
Dr Helene Cohen
These are the thoughts and spaces that seem to be growing within the gallery and the art, within the paper and the chosen words.