the following, is a conversation with my self.
for someone who works across many different mediums, how would you describe what you do?
I play, I sing, I dance, I write and draw - uncovering beauty and subtlety in all that surrounds me. My creations are a distillation of my encounters with varied global aesthetic, mythological, energetic and cultural sensibilities - gathered during my travels in the inner and outer worlds, studies in art history, archaeology, nature, yoga and sound - but above all nurtured by an irrepressible sense of curiosity and expansion deep inside. I’m a heavy dreamer, I do what moves me - guided by that tingly gut feeling or sense of wonder. I remember my school report card saying: she’s a good student, smart and well mannered - but always dreaming, gazing through the window and losing track of time. Dreaming was a bad thing. And unfortunately still is? Artists are myth makers, shamans of some kind; their myths symbolic expressions of realizations, for everyone to be known. Up untill a few ages ago, art solely served spiritual, mystical, mythical and shamanic purposes - it’s these ancient roots that I wish to bring back to life. As portals to subtle realms. Nurtured by silent observation and that gentle voice of intuition, the inner eye. Love made real. These experiential glimpses (through art, through inner work) transcend our daily worries and wandering of the mind - they are of the nature of dream, arising from an inward world unknown to waking consciousness. And so, indeed, does life.* There is a dream dreaming us, a Kalahari bushman once said. I picked up a pencil at the age of 1,5 and never dropped it ever since, losing track of time.
question: what do you question?
The sacred and the secret. Mysteries of perception, love, transformation, wholeness, subtle energy and realms, the entanglement with our nature or form and the power of believe. More on that if you ask for it.
will do. But first: where do you find inspiration?
How significant is this: inspiration is inhalation, the drawing in of breath. A flow of air that enters our system and carries many names. Whether you call it chi, ki, mana, prana or the mystical ever moving life force: it is what we all essentially embody. Inspiration unites with expiration and becomes the simple and secret tool of numerous ancient Oriental mind transforming disciplines. The East is far and the past long ago, but the breath is still as close as it has ever been. When you enter the flow of creative play, may it be visual art or music or a delicious recipe, you tap into that same feeling. Warm, circulating, vital energy. An open state of being, of full absorption into one single thing - a symbolic story you wish would never end. This is what being creative is: a fearless union of opposites - engaging with the full spectrum of life, the river beneath the river, the dynamic interplay of both light and dark. Sorry. I could elaborate for hours. What I breathe in cannot simply be put into words, but what triggers me to inspire does so very well. People, places and pieces I love, but some things in particular: seduce me with botany, heraldry, kandinsky or philosophy, but don’t forget about shamanism, fauvism, Zoroastrianism, Japanese aesthetics and traditions, art deco, natural history, illuminated manuscripts, G. C. Jung, microscopes, grand grimoires, the Tao, Greek vases, erotica, mind blowing music and cymatics, Persian miniatures, the art of ornament and all things tribal, indigenous and permeated with sacredness.
what about that ’sacredness'? You keep coming back to it.
Sacredness intrigues me. The belief systems we built around it, the many spiritual practices that got their shapes. How ancient traditions, rites and ceremonies unfold in present-day realities. The holiness of places and of beings. Of objects or even that of word and text. Something sets them apart, they were given to the gods. But then, what is that sweet and heavenly place where they dwell? The sacred is the realm of the hidden, the world beyond the world of ephemeral phenomena. But very much here.. This fascination with unraveling the essence behind appearance is apparantly as old as the human race, though it won’t be found faraway. Not in the past, nor in the future, or in countries overseas. It’s just a matter of how to sincerely see. What we believe in is, is what I believe.
seeing clearly begins with attentiveness, right? A central aspect in your work.
Oh yes indeed. To create attention is what I aim to animate. That magic one-pointedness of mind. Within you, like these words do - not in a self-indulgent kind of way. We spend a lot of time thinking about what isn’t going on around us. Living by agenda, regretting all those ships that never sailed. A point of focus brings you here and invites our brains to float on different waves. To take a break and rest a while - eyes not rushed along. Chi follows Yi, as the Chinese would say. That what you focus on will be infused with vitality. And so, gains an opportunity to grow and change. Seeds of pretty plants sprout and flourish, but their poisoned, undesirable antipodes could do so as well. A matter of clear intentionality? Seeds are dots and dots are anywhere: each one the center of the world. The Hindus call these bindu - that point of crossing dualities from where creation begins, expands and may become unity. The Japanese would sure agree. A bright light sheet with a central drop mirrors ritual and ceremony; a visual anchor to find refuge in. Now, to end this story: I draw you pin-ups to begin.
Pin-ups - huh. You’re also interested in Tantra. That all sounds pretty sexual. Or do I miss the point?
Tantrikas embrace the duality of physical life to realize the sacred unity that lies beneath. The light and the darkness. The body as an instrument, not as something distant. Desire as a tool. We have a man, we have a women - now what can we do to become one? In the West we fully embraced this tiny little aspect of a much larger experiential and protoscientific movement. If you dig a little deeper, there is way more to explore. The tradition is said to have emerged during our early Dark Ages and became a pan-Indian vogue a little later on. Its influences are wide spread: think of Buddhism, Jainism, Vajrayana, Alchemy, Hatha Yoga or the foundations of subtle anatomy. Tantrikas see creation as a continuous act. I feel for their emphasis on action, direct experience in and through the world. Intimacy with life. Knowledge is just one part, being all the rest. And understanding? Transcending. The Tantric world is a world of images and sound - lots of its practices centered around visualisation, mantra recitation, and imagination. Seeing your self as deity. Femininity as creative divinity. The world in a grain of sand. The body as a microcosm - mirroring the macrocosm in all its respects. Our veins analogous to floating rivers, the bronchi as roots of a tree, pupils that parallel planets and their orbits. Mine, they have grey blue rays surrounding an olive colored flaming sun with a pitch black nucleus at the center. The very best of yantras - its true nature normally kept secret and only indicated verbally, never written down. Tantrism might sound exotic, but we had something similar around: the Alchemic art of transformation, honouring the hermaphrodite. And did I tell you about the Tao, Japanese shunga or the ancient Egyptian alchemical rites?
transformation and transfiguration - something pretty sacred.
And pretty mundane. Question the transformative quality of light. The process of cooking and transmutation of a nourishing meal. Metamorphosis is part of nature and equally part of us. It requires just a tiny dose of willpower and comforting bath of trust. Journeying from apprentice to master calls for patience too - which reminds me of my mum reminding me. Patience is a virtue.
why all those hands and feet?
They are instruments of connection: to each other and to the earth (charging our bodies with loads of yummy electrons). Why do doctors slap the bottoms of the baby’s feet? Wake up! Is what she says. Manifesting action. Thousands of nerve endings come together, now ponder on the reason why. A foot shows what you left behind, bare reminds of childhood. They make of you a follower, bowing down afore the gurus seat but free to wander off. Those ten toes are our foundations, keeping balance or finding height. Hands besides, are the exclamation points of thought - they show the future and give identity. Pleasure, gift, supporting touch. The tool of tools of Aristotle - and above all: they bless. Both make us dance and play the drum. Serve as vehicle of palmistry, reflexology, language and mudra. In art they even have their genres, like the Buddha-pada stone, paduka of Vishnu or Paleolothic stencil. How sublime and ingenuous. My nails have dots and my feet tattoos: I give them good attention.
you love trees.
I like them very much. Nature and the elements: another major theme. I find sacred space in forests, nearby pools or under the waterfall. On wild shores or horse back. There’s nature in my subjects, material and techniques. She even sometimes appears as my collaborator - mercurial as ever. The human dialogue with its fountainhead is one I curiously observe. How did we get so far removed? We share the same qualities, of transience and equanimity, of cycles, relationships and what we sow we reap. I embrace her healing properties and yield to the natural course - flow, grow, ripen, blossom and return. Born in Frisia, I was never far removed. Often headed out for exploration of the green scene. Spotting birds, collecting leaves. Uncovering phi and fibonacci. Our senses are adapted to interpret the teachings of plants, or the motion of the stars. Where cell phones and e-mails and traffic lights are not to be found in any way. Art is revealing human nature, nature reveals our human needs. She’s merciless and righteous - only favoring the contented seeds. I love how Joan Miró compares his artistic practice to keeping a garden, the vivid observations of Krischnamurti and strong statements by Paul Klee: sensitivity in the roots, expressiveness and craftmanship in the branches. Our nature as the source of creativity.
Can you tell me something more about Journey of the Like-Minded?
I missed being out there. A city dwellers' loss. Escaping modernity. There where many more around me, adventuring alone. We all foster real connection, don’t live an online dream. The urge was there, the medium was not, and so gave birth to this idea. Nature as the antidote. Every now and then a group of like-minds comes together: we go out and explore, a different field or forest each and every time. Our trips are an act of reciprocity; collecting rubble and rubbish as we go - removing plastic from where it does not belong. Little effort, direct result. We walk, talk, throw a dinner afterwards and warmly welcome you to join. The journey merges soil, soul and society - a trinity composing fertile ground for growth. Journey of the Like-Minded popped up in my mind many years ago while in New York - I only recently found out why.
let’s get back to the ability to see. Can you elaborate?
In India, there is this thing called darshan: getting the glimpse. A sudden view of the essence, or auspicious sight of the divine -seized by the eye and mind all at once, while music and words unfold in time. It illustrates the deeper layers of perception, as things are not always what they seem. Eyes are puzzling, like this curtain of dots that infiltrates my vision. It can be amusing, when mother Ayahuasca takes the dance, but it’s just - quietly always around. Being a witness, observant or voyeur is another side of sight, passing clichés and leaving judgement behind. An ever so common deception of the mind: to colour our vision, depending on the lens. Notice how it all opens up, if you become a little more aware. But let’s not overcomplicate. Rejuvenate your inborn sense of wonder - yes, like when you were a little kid with one mother and one father. Eyes wide open or eyes wide shut: both sides of visibility. So I find my elements, of endless play. Qualia and reflections, lunar and solar light. The intensity of repetition. Black and white. How to guide the eye, make visible what you truly see. My inquiry into perception is continuing.
is that why you’re also into photography?
Yeah - I guess so. In my photos, things accumulate: the harmony between the abstract and representational, or geometry behind. Human nature. Light and dark. Dualities side by side. The sacred beauty of the mundane - as ordinary reality goes largely unobserved. In everything there is a little paradise. It’s a great tool to train the eye - framing the ambiguous and idiosyncratic. A multifaceted medium as well; or just another way of drawing, of sharing poetry?
and you also write.
Each idea picks its own outlet - often words are a perfect fit. I’m an avid note taker, the proud heiress of over sixty books with more than five hundred chapters - waiting to be realized. It keeps me off the streets. And above all, being a writer is a good excuse to invest in uplifting conversations. Talking over coffee is the best way to communicate.
many words are spend on music - you shared a cup with Anthony Hegarty, Grimes, Tom Odell and great musicians alike. How come? Oh and what do you often listen to?
Music is the purest - it pierces right through the soul, with the heart not far behind. Music unites all qualities, as Nietzsche pointed out: it can break us or excite - may lead to some place high. In the lineage of OM, the sacred sound described in the Upanishads ages and ages ago. It was paired with dance from these earliest times to transcend being of two minds. But enough now of all this balladry - music is delight. I sing and play and learn to play multiple instruments. Harp, udu, guitar, drum, ukulele, didgeridoo, the harmonium and shruti box, some funky rattles and obscure sound vessels like the gusle and nada tarangini. I’m into variety. My music taste is hard to specify, but here are some prime likes. Mazzy Star, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Ana Roxanne, Bob Dylan, Blue Hawaii, Lola Marsh, Marth, Gaiea Sanskrit, Fia and Aurora, Yaima, Patti Smith, Michelle Gurevich, Umoja, Los Zafiros, Jeff Buckley but also Tim, Michael J or Death Can Dance, Gregorian chants and let’s not forget FIP radio.
what is something you indulge in?
Laughing until I cry, making love till you sweat, being a melancholic and absolutely adoring it. Just keep the waters flowing - they will go up, often go down. Did I tell you I unabashedly bawled my eyes out, the first time I saw a breaching hunchback whale at Maalaea Bay?
Don’t spend your days in may be,
both be aware that opposites are just as true.
beauty, fragrance, being in nature with nature as nature, walking around barefoot (and naked), laughter, gentle loving touch from someone who truly listens, music, dancing, singing, sunlight, honey, deep belly breaths, being with loved ones, local organic home grown food, crystals, colours, vibrant pure water, allowing yourself to rest and then really rest, walk through life with a child-like sense of wonder and play, flowers, thankfulness, art, embodiment. In random order of appearance.
and the conclusion?
My work is a reminder of what one has forgotten,
soft messages for hard times.
* thank you, Joseph Campbell - I’m just very much alive, I guess.