Throughout the two year period of research which has culminated in this exhibition, I have been brought to a daily contemplation of mortality. Some of my fear of death, in the process, has transformed into insight. I am now more relaxed about that mysterious dimension of existence.
My sources of information mostly have Oriental roots, not least The Tibetan Book of the Dead or Bardo Thodol, which has had over a millenium of continuous use. Shamanic lore, originating in tribal cultures, has also made a major contribution. Near-death experiences, first widely publicised by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and now occurring quite frequently due to medical intervention, are providing glimpses of what was formerly considered unknown. The ‘map of consciousness’ provided by each source varies according to the respective cultural precepts but appears to reflect a common understanding. The work of psychiatrist Dr. Stanislav Grof has been pivotal in my comprehension of this greater context.
My ceramic pieces have been wood fired using (almost exclusively) the sodium vapour glaze method. The particular kiln was designed and constructed during the research program. Many of the surfaces, which depart from traditional ‘salt-glaze’ include feldspathic materials. Quite a number of works have been formed using local clays.
Wood fired ceramic art has had a strong presence in tombs since the beginning of civilisation, so in some respects this exhibition is a continuation of an ancient tradition. The vessel form is an invention of the earliest potters. These forms with encrusted surfaces are intended to evoke generations of human memory. The sculptural and tabular forms simultaneously encode firemarks, geological processes and allusions to hyperspace. In placing the forms together my intention is to place human history in the context of the aeons. Why, then, should a single human death surprise us? We all will die. Until then we will love, lose, grieve and hopefully, live with joy, care and compassion in our multi-dimensional human-ness.
Departing Spirits is my celebration of death and through it I extend my deepest gratitude to Osho Rajneesh, my spiritual master.