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This is the text from the exhibition catalogue for my art exhibition, Enchantment, held in Salamanca Art Centre's Loft Gallery in Hobart, November 2002.


Feeling Enchantment…


Western civilisation praises the orderly life. We have a healthy skepticism that insists ‘seeing is believing’. Our world is built on thinking, logic, progress, and success, and within these limits we feel secure. But today even our scientists tell us that these limits are illusory. Quantum physics shows us ‘the dancing universe; the ceaseless flow of energy going through an infinite variety of patterns’.

Robert A Johnson, Ecstasy

Raise your enjoyment to its highest power, and use it as a spiritual rocket-fuel.

Philip Rawson, Tantra: The Indian Cult of Ecstasy

Feeling It…

Our culture is still marked by the stiff upper lip: the belief that too much feeling is improper, embarrassing and hazardous. Boys still don’t cry much and angry girls are still looked at askance. We bow internally to the god of rationality, perhaps wishing we could risk paying more attention to New Age sensitivity. Reason, science and logic still hold sway over emotion, intuition, and passion.

I’m delighted when contemporary thinkers point out this imbalance (like John Ralston Saul on the tyranny of reason in the West) or when groundbreaking brain researchers document that emotion drives decision-making (Antonio Damasio, et al). It’s virtually common knowledge now that repression of feeling is psychologically unhealthy and may contribute to the development of physical diseases such as cancer. But old habits die by small increments, and tend to resurrect in moments of uncertainty. Head, or heart? If in doubt – well, we’ve been taught the heart’s inherently untrustworthy, so we weigh up pros and cons and follow the known way.

As a recent student of psychology I was fed a lot of scientific fundamentalism. Some progress has been made since the behaviourist Skinner pronounced that emotions didn’t exist since he couldn’t measure them. But it’s still a touchy area. Concepts like ‘emotional intelligence’ (as in Daniel Goleman’s bestseller of that title) are dismissed by rationalist die-hards as popularist psychobabble. I suppose it’s risky implying that our academic elite is as rife with emotional ineptitude as the rest of the planet!

Since all those psych-texts it’s been refreshing to read books by Western psychologists who are thinking outside the square, and by Eastern thinkers (Dalai Lama included) who present a psycho-spiritual view of humanity that is open-hearted in its compassion and tolerance for human failing and feeling.

It offers a counterbalance to the scientific-rationalist tradition which is more inclusive, and less inclined to dissect, analyse, compartmentalise and judge. There’s a wisdom in this breadth of vision that has reached to the centre of my felt-experience. That felt-experience is what this exhibition is about.



What is this enchantment? It is… the be-all and end-all, which has no name and which is indescribable. So I call it enchantment, which means something like ecstasy, something like when my heart flames out at the sight and the feel of something beautiful – and life is beautiful. Terrible, too, with a terrible beauty that makes me ache with longing and cry with aching, because it’s so beautiful, I never want to lose it.

My year has been infused with enchantment. I’ve watched with a sense of awe and fascination; watched as the sun and moon have marked seasons, watched light wax and wane, watched calm and storms, watched candleflames and the darkness and illumination in my own soul. All flowing like tides, opening and closing, moving and never still.

It’s been an experience of unfolding. Like the lotus of a thousand petals… layers of opening, each revealing new depths. It’s been the unfolding of events. The unfolding and freeing of feelings. The unfolding of a love affair, of a deep intimacy with life.

In spring last year I returned from two breathtaking months of travelling in northern Australia. My mind and body were alive with sensual memories: heat, sun, tropical foliage and flowers, clear swimming in waterholes with silvery fishes. I was enchanted by that brilliance. I wanted more of it.

I read books on the anatomy of ecstasy and joy. I enlarged my photographs and hung them on walls where I could look at them. I wrote. And on New Year’s Eve resolved to ‘let my passions flourish’. I was tired of holding back, holding in. Tired of the stiff upper lip. I wanted to grasp all of life with everything I had. To feel it all, have it all, and preferably, eat it all too!

That’s one story of a beginning to this year of exploration, of living passionately, which has been terrifying and wonderful and just (lost for words!) absolutely bloody awesome!

It’s involved an immersion in delight and sensuality, the nurturing of intimate relationships, the cultivation of my ability to accept the moment in all its pleasure or pain. These have been doorways into my experience of enchantment. The deeper I enter into the bodily feeling, the sight, the shape of a flower petal, the sense of wind on skin or the touch of my lover’s body, the deeper I enter into the magic which is the world right before me.

In August I returned to the tropics, longing to drench myself again in that place of heat, sun, clear swimming and magenta bougainvillea. I wished there were two of me, so I could also stay home in my place of mountain, river, bright berries and chilled sunrisings. I have loved ones at both ends of Australia, and want to be with all of them at once!

Thank you – to the loved ones who have shared in the unfolding, who have offered their feelings as gifts, who have seen with me the magic in the candleflame. To the old and new companions who have played a part in my year’s journeying – you know who you are.


The Artwork

And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy … a heart inflamed and a soul enchanted …

I identify with those lines from Kahlil Gibran. Beauty is central to my experience of vitality. I am passionate about beauty. It enchants me. It makes me ecstatic. It moves me to tears. Beautiful colour, beautiful light. Patterns. Beautiful feelings. Beautiful people. All my artwork is about beauty. Here are some thoughts on the different media I’ve used and why I enjoy them…

Photography… The sight of something beautiful entrances me so deeply I feel compelled to try and capture it before it is forever lost. A photograph catches a moment out of time, a still point in the fluidity and transience of experience. It’s a memory aid as well as a creative tool.

Poetry… Words have been my passion since I could read. I majored in English Literature and writing was once the basis of my paid work. I still write copiously but for personal rather than employment purposes. Letters, emails, journals, poetry. Writing is integral to my relationships, at home and overseas, and to an understanding of myself.

Shells… An obsession since I was old enough to walk on the beach and hold tiny things in my hand. I have collected shells from beaches all over the world: England, South Africa, Darwin, Tasmania. Friends and family collect them for me and bring home shell treasures from their own journeys. Exquisite objects in their own right, they are symbolic to me of journeys and homecomings.

Mirrors… They catch and throw out light. Little windows. Reflections fascinate me and I love to pass mirrors, large or tiny, seeing the movement of objects tossed back at me. And they show me who I am; how much the inside shows on the outside.

Paintings… I’ve always been enchanted by small details and love painting miniatures. These have mostly been of botanical subjects recently. I enjoy choosing small plants that are often overlooked.

Candles… They bring together colour and light, luminescence and warmth. They present me with a dilemma: I love the unburned translucence and the wholeness of form, but I want to burn them too, to watch the flame and the melting and transformation.

Cards… One way of scattering my images across the world.


This is for the seekers and the travellers.