A Pulsing Imagination - Ray Clews' Paintings
On the Unity of Assemblage and Poem
Halloween Assemblage -Getting there
Between 3 photo programs, approaching what I sought
Oh, my Halloween Assemblage!
Because there was no sun, once again, which would give me the contrast I'd like, I set up two lights. Man, it was a lot of work. The camera app took forever to connect and then kept cutting out so it was pretty much useless. On the computer after, I was so happy to see the image in focus, however, the lighting isn't right. So I did quick colour replacement in PSE, turning the background blue. I wanted a dark background, but wasn't able to do it. I think the blue is interesting, and makes for unique, rather theatrical photos.
Unwindings & The Unanswering
Music from Audiio.com: Arms and Sleepers - Cinemas For Marseille (Instrumental) Primo Levi - Violin Piano Floating II (Instrumental) Center Of The Sea - Bending Gravity (Instrumental)
Alchemical Wheels: A Portrait of a Painting & a Near Death Experience (a silent video)
Alchemical Wheels: Portrait of a Painting & a Near Death Experience (a silent video)
Alchemical texts are riddles. Writing about visionary experience is impossible. Here goes…
the circle dips
& two become one
opalescence of the self,
golden pearl rising
A psychic and artistic journey encircling a dream of alchemical wheels emerging on each side of the face. Wetting charcoal dust, dragging charred willow, self-portrait surreality. The spinning wheels become Catherine Wheel fireworks, then a spiral goddess path. Maria Prophetissa,1 mother of alchemy and chemistry, beckons, one arm about me, the other pointing.. How to do the work of turning lead into gold — her formula:
“If the two do not become one, nothing will take place. If one does not lighten, and the two become three, nothing will take place. But when one yellows, three becomes four, for one yellows with yellow sulphur. At the end, when one tints into violet, all things become violet.”2
Carl Jung, in Alchemy and Psychology, writes:
…the ultimate aim of alchemy…was trying to produce a corpus subtile, a transfigured and resurrected body, i.e., a body that was at the same time spirit.”3
Scraping, chiselling the carapace, breaking the shell, sloughing the cocoon, a serpent’s, an oroboros’ discarded skin. Hardships, pain, complexes, defense mechanisms, PTSDs. Grit of peeling. An emergent self — trust, openness, sensitivity, generosity, loving. Untarnished, wondrous child. The transfigured self, glittering healing radiance of what calls, powerful love pulling us to live in intimate near-death-experience, profound, inclusive. Fully who we are and fully in the panorama.
Impossible vibrating luminance of the self beyond the self in the self.
The video follows a journey beginning with, ‘Self-portrait after an Alchemical Dream,’ 2021, 20x26", charcoal on Yupo paper, then focusing on ‘Alchemical Wheels,' 2021, acrylic on canvas, 30x40”.
My Near Death Experience at the age of 28:
‘Radiant energy appeared. A startling and powerful love had come for me. How powerful this love was is indescribable — the greatest love I have ever felt, complete and full. I drew upwards, rising from my body, leaving it on the bed below. I felt only ecstasy, the wave of my form nearing the radiant healing energy like entering the Great Union or heaven or Nirvana. As I rose, I thought, ‘but my father’s grief, the life I’m to live…’ and, immediately, fell back gently into my body and the radiance vanished.’
For many decades, I’ve regretted my egoic attachment to my little life, to not embracing that powerful love, to what I might have learned and brought back. Working through this grief in painting has brought me to a realization that something was, indeed, imparted. If it was a type of ‘das-log’, a shamanic Near Death Experience of Tibetan religion, then I may have given from it.
1 Maria Prophetissa was a 1-3rd century Jewish woman who invented the bain Marie, the double boiler, still used in cooking and chemistry today, and who is credited with being the mother of chemistry and the first recorded practitioner of alchemy.
2 Quote from Jame Hillman’s audiobook, The Alchemy of Psychology, BetterListen! LLC., 2015.
Self-Portrait After an Alchemical Dream
[Adding the original dream & something on the process of what's appeared in this preparatory sketch for a possible painting, if you'd like to know what it's about.]
…red spots develop under my cheeks, and as I powder them, they become raised wheels, one on each side, which the thick powder whitens, six spokes, a central hub and an outer wheel, a relief sculpture perhaps, like something from myth, an archetypal symbol, which the attempt to hide with powder only accentuates. I feel no horror, or pain, but awe as I brush the powder on skin become wheels and spokes. Sculpted like Medieval cosmological wheels, alchemical wheels of transmutation, the configurations are mysterious, almost reverential, an embodied reference the Wheels of Ezekiel, but also to the powdered faces of highly-stylized Oriental performance, and somehow the magnificent coiled antlers of Bighorn sheep… (2008)
Process of charcoal sketch:
Friday, I decided to try a charcoal drawing to see how my dream of the alchemical wheels appearing in my face, rising in my cheeks, might appear. In the dream, I powdered them as they rose sculpturally. But here I hoped to let my 'unconscious' take over and I did go into a light trance and even worked with my eyes shut at times. At the beginning, I used a sponge and charcoal powder that I then sprayed with a fixative, and kept working. There are distinct shadow and light sides. The wheels are dark - to me, the one in shadow looks floral; the one in light, ocular. The hair fed snake-like into the wheels, which seem almost to be whirring and that is unlike the dream. And I see four eyes!
I find the drawing a bit scary, actually. There's psychic progress for sure. Self-portrait after an alchemical dream. 20"x26", charcoal on Yupo paper.
Recording a reading was entering the world in some way. It was hard to look at a non-existing women, myself, in the clip, to see her, the gesture of my physical body, the contours of age. I hung a William Morris Tree of Life weaving as a backdrop, and shot in a room of sunlight. Editing the video, I began layering in poppies I've photographed on my walks through my neighbourhood, perhaps seeking to add some beauty in what is essentially a 'talking head' video. I live over a subway, which I rarely hear, but, oh, could you hear them on the sound track! I removed the sound of 8 trains! Lastly, I added chimes, which I had ordered for this video, some larger ones, and played, standing, moving the clapper. I hope I've produced a watchable reading.
A reading for a feature at the Art Bar Poetry Series in Toronto - one in a series of many Canadian poets who have videoed themselves reading their poetry during lockdown over the last year and a half. Many thanks to Margaret Code and Rosa Arlotto for their hard work and dedication to providing one of the best spaces for poets to read, share, blossom.
A special shout out to Lizzie Violet, whose beautiful hand-crafted flower I wore in my hair.