The Poetic Nursing Heart

The Uncharted Canvas: Nurturing Creativity, Embracing the Wandering Soul


The Uncharted Canvas: Nurturing Creativity, Embracing the Wandering Soul


In the vast realm of creativity, the artist’s journey is often likened to the wave of a master’s brush on a virgin canvas. It’s a dance of innovation and profound beauty, a journey that intertwines with personal experiences and the wisdom of great minds. My reflections on time spent in New Zealand unveil a canvas painted with warmth, cultural richness, and the captivating landscapes of the Coromandel Peninsula, where love blossomed. The fern, with its intricate fronds, becomes a symbol of organic connection, resonating with the essence of Aotearoa. Drawing inspiration from John O’Donohue’s ‘Anam Cara’ and Māori wisdom, I dream of returning to New Zealand as a professor of creativity, fostering innovation in harmony with the land’s profound beauty.

The Wandering Lamb: A Tale of Unconditional Love:

As I embark on the journey of sharing ‘The Wandering Lamb,’ a children’s book celebrating the profound theme of unconditional love, parallels between the wandering lamb and my heart’s yearning for New Zealand emerge. Much like the lamb’s wanderings, I find a connection to the captivating landscapes of Aotearoa and Australia, resonating with stories of resilience and embracing scars. Through the narrative of my neurodiverse journey, I aspire to create spaces for conversations about trauma and resilience. One copy of ‘The Wandering Lamb’ has already found a home with dear friends, and I look forward to connecting with kindred spirits through the pages of this tale.

Mirroring the Creative Death: Exploring Nietzsche and Jung’s Insights:

Delving deeper into the artist’s psyche, there lies a profound reflection on the death of the creative self. Nietzsche’s philosophy of the “death of God” and Jung’s exploration of the collective unconscious offer profound insights into the transformative process of creative death. The artist, akin to Nietzsche’s Übermensch, must overcome societal expectations and embrace the void left by the death of the old self. Jung’s concept of individuation becomes a journey toward self-realization, as the artist confronts the shadows within, paving the way for the rise of the true self.

Bowie’s Guidance in the Depths:

Bowie’s words, “It’s dangerous for an artist to fulfil other people’s expectations,” now take on a deeper resonance in light of Nietzsche and Jung’s philosophies. The artist’s death to conformity aligns with Nietzsche’s call for the individual to transcend societal norms, and Bowie’s wisdom becomes a guiding light urging artists to break free from the shackles of external expectations. It is in this void, explored by Jung, that the artist encounters the rawness of creativity’s origin—a source untethered by societal constraints.

The Mind’s Symphony: McGilchrist’s Perspective:

To further understand the complexities of the mind in this creative death and rebirth, I turn to Iain McGilchrist’s exploration of the divided brain. In his work, ‘The Master and His Emissary,’ McGilchrist delves into the nuanced interplay between the left and right hemispheres. The left, analytical and linear, represents the societal expectations and conformity, while the right, holistic and intuitive, embodies the realm of creativity and self-discovery. McGilchrist’s insights add a layer to the artist’s journey, emphasizing the importance of balancing both hemispheres to unlock the full potential of the mind.

The Essence of the Diamond Gardener:

Synthesizing Nietzsche, Jung, Bowie, and McGilchrist, the concept of the diamond gardener emerges as a metaphor for the transformative process of creativity. The artist faces the death of conformity, societal expectations, and the old self, as Nietzsche and Jung suggest. Bowie’s guidance becomes a beacon, urging artists to navigate the complexities of the mind, echoed by McGilchrist’s insights on the interplay between hemispheres. In this synthesis, the artist tends to the diamond within, carefully nurturing the true self in the darkness of the subconscious, ultimately giving rise to a masterpiece that transcends the limitations of societal expectations.

As I embark on the creation of my third children’s book, I find myself embracing the essence of the diamond gardener. The exploration of the death of the creative self becomes a journey into the depths of the subconscious, a dance with vulnerability, Nietzsche’s abyss, and the unknown. Through storytelling, whether in the landscapes of Aotearoa, the pages of ‘The Wandering Lamb,’ or the upcoming children’s book, the artist finds solace in the unravelling of the self. It is in this vulnerability that the true beauty of creativity emerges, like a diamond carefully tended by the hands of a gardener in the darkness of the subconscious—a symphony orchestrated by the mind’s dual hemispheres.

In this collaborative venture, the exploration of creativity and the transformative journey finds a unique voice through the coalescence of words and art. As the author (also my epic and awesome cousin) Francesca Ramsay, brings her distinctive vision to life on the canvas and within the narrative, the synthesis of storytelling and visual expression becomes a testament to the interplay of creativity. Her work, showcased at Francesca Ramsay’s website, adds a visual dimension to the exploration of the self, echoing the themes of vulnerability, resilience, and the embrace of the unknown. Together, in this collaborative endeavour, we aim to guide others through the rich tapestry of creative expression, inviting them to wander through the realms of imagination and self-discovery.

Next is an extract from Francesca’s book ‘pinch me’ we hope to be welcoming the Author to a reading and a signing soon to discuss further the ideas of reconnecting in an ever more disconnected world. Copies are available at the university book shop. Also available through this link:


Pinch me.

I’m a will-o’-the-wisp, all shadow and ether.

For as long as I can remember I have lived at a distance from my own life, hovering a few millimetres behind my eyes and just above my hairline. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy living. Like the rest of us, I cry with laughter and frustration, I fall in and out of love. I bruise easily. I am badly dressed. But the varying levels of disconnect I have to the rest of the world leave me convinced I must be sleepwalking. I’m split in two, mind and body rarely able to be in the same place at the same time; in the now and now and now of moment-by-moment existence. Reality should be as simple as breathing, but it’s not. Perhaps you feel it too? Perhaps you share this same sense of dislocation from your own life? Perhaps, like me, you believe there must be more.

There have been moments, see; pinpricks in time that have given me such an essential and triumphant feeling of realness I am for that one split second jolted directly back into myself. I have found it when immersed in bodies of very cold water, when face to-face with a vast and beautiful view. I have found it in print, loud noise and in utter silence. I have found it in darkness too. But most of all, most consistently, I have found it in art. There have been paintings that have grabbed me by both shoulders and stopped me still in their presence; drawings so intricate, so concentrate, that they demand my full awareness, whispering to me this question:

‘Could you be anywhere else but here, now, in this exact moment?’

For the rest of the time though – like a forgotten word on the tongue, or the deeply recognisable landscape of a dream lost just after waking – I have nothing but a dusty feeling that, if I tried just a little harder, I would be on the cusp of something truly magnificent.

I refuse to exist like this any longer.

This is my journey to find reality in the twenty-first century.

But before we begin, I’d like to clarify a few things.

Firstly, it feels important to bring up just how many options there are to ground, connect and bring ourselves into the present today. It sure has captured the zeitgeist, reality; we’re all after it, and there seem to be innumerable methods with which to form a closer relationship both to it and to ourselves. And so, I would like to admit before we really get started that this is a far from comprehensive study. It is instead a personal exploration: sparking, I hope, what might become a similar journey of your own.

I would also like to make it clear that this is not a book about mental health. I am by no means an expert on this, and would certainly feel uncomfortable touting myself as one. On saying that though, it would have been perverse of me to ignore the links between my disconnection from reality, with anxiety and depression. Each feeds into the next. And this is true for us all. Contemporary life can cause us to feel increasingly anxious and/ or depressed. Our brain can react to this uncomfortable present by turning on the dissociation switch and disconnecting us from the here and now. I can’t write about one without writing about the others.


The pure joy of play and making meaning from nothing is such a wonderful truth. Engaging in the joy of nonsense play, inspired by Hugo Ball’s Dadaist poem “I Zimbra,” creates a whimsical realm where language transcends traditional meaning, and absurdity takes centre stage. Ball’s avant-garde approach challenges conventional norms, urging participants to revel in the liberation of language from its usual constraints. This liberation echoes in the works of Francesca Ramsay, an author, curator, and dreamer, who shares a kindred spirit with Ball in her exploration of unconventional and imaginative realms. As a playwright and a pioneering vulgarist, Ball dismantled linguistic structures, fostering a playground of creativity, a sentiment echoed in Ramsay’s pursuits that blur the lines between reality and dreams. In the synergy of these artistic endeavours, a shared celebration of the surreal unfolds, linking the playful spirit of nonsense between myself, the reader, and these visionary creators.

Hugo Ball performing at the Cabaret Voltaire, 1916

Hugo Ball and his fellow absurdist’s emerge as vital voices in the discourse about a world that often appears nonsensical. In their rejection of conventional logic and the rigid structures of societal norms, these avant-garde thinkers, including luminaries like Albert Camus and Samuel Beckett, offer a poignant critique of a seemingly irrational world. Through their artistic expressions, they engage in a profound argument against the absurdities of existence, challenging us to question the coherence of reality. Ball’s Dadaist approach, marked by linguistic disruption and chaotic creativity, becomes a powerful tool in dismantling established systems of thought. Together with other absurdist’s, these visionaries prompt us to reconsider the meaning we ascribe to our experiences, compelling us to grapple with the inherent contradictions and paradoxes that characterize the human condition. In their exploration of the nonsensical, they not only critique the world but also beckon us to partake in a collective re-evaluation of the very foundations upon which our understanding of reality rests.

Talking Heads used the inspiration and words for the piece I Zimbra; David Byrne explains why in the following clip.

In the words of Gayle (2018) madness really is a brilliant methodology but it is so very feared and oppressed through subconscious transference and ignorance. And in the words of Ramsey (2023) ‘pinch me’ as I would rather the pain of the pinch than succumb to the numb death in the social materialism, we cannot seem to break free from.



Bowie, D.  Interviews, quotes, and lyrics from David Bowie’s body of work

Gale, K. (2018). Madness as Methodology: Bringing Concepts to Life in Contemporary Theorising and Inquiry (1st ed.). Routledge.

Jung, C. G. (1916). The Structure of the Unconscious. Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 7: Two Essays in Analytical Psychology.

McGilchrist, I. (2009). The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. Yale University Press.

Nietzsche, F. (1883-1885). Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Various editions.

O’Donohue, J. (1997). Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom. Harper Perennial. ——————————————————————————

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