At the beginning of my Masters research I decided that I needed a consistent motif to give formal and conceptual coherency to works increasingly made up of very diverse recycled elements.
The mandala seemed ideal since as a symbol for the earth it carried ecological and religious connotations.
My exploration of the mandala as a symbol was sustained through two exhibitions Heaven and Earth shown at Rocketart, Newcastle in March 2001, and In What Do You Believe? Shown in The Locker Room at Wattspace Galleries in April 2002
Heaven & Earth comprised two artworks/pieces Heaven, a “stained-glass” window made from hundreds of plastic squares with a mandala in the centre, like the rose window of a cathedral. Opposite was Earth, a large drawing of a mandala made with local ochres, chalk and charcoal.
A number of oppositions were set up in this work. Primarily that of materials: the synthetic against the organic, or colour against monochrome.
However the synthetic, plastic window, constructed from waste materials transformed by light also represented the heavenly, hence its title. Earth on the other hand, a wall-size drawing on a grid of paper represents the Earth of which it is made.
This artwork therefore relates to a long term dualism where one opposite is privileged over the other, reflected, as noted by theologian and environmentalist Paul Collins, in Christianity’s emphasis on the heavenly, spiritual and non-corporeal over the earthy, material and bodily which has led traditional religions to thereby ignore earthier issues of ecology and the environment.
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