Exploring Goethe's Secret

“How do I relate to our world?”

This is the question I am exploring during my master’s programme at Schumacher College. It has been a unique space in my busy life to pause and question my relationship with the world. Together we looked deeply into the nature of perception, and through this, I met Goethe and Phenomenology.

I must admit, I struggled to begin with. I felt bogged down with strange words and theories that were in essence telling me simply how to see. After a frustrating week, I was clearing my head in the vegetable garden and sat looking at a scruffy raspberry plant. Suddenly, I was hit by a sense I had not felt before. It was a feeling of vibrancy, a very strong sense of life, far more than my intellectual understanding or even its visual beauty. Had I just seen what Goethe saw?

I realised for this work to be meaningful, I had to go out and practice it. This was when my project began; painting a sequence of a flower’s metamorphosis from bud to seed.

The process was surprisingly tricky, fighting with the environment and the flower itself to capture its essence. However, through this struggle, a shift in perspective occurred. Again, I felt a profoundly moving, fleeting sense of life, though this time through its transformation.

What did I sense and why does it matter?  I think Goethe’s insight allowed me to see past my conceptual idea of the plant to the true ineffable miracle of the plant itself. This left me with the question what else am I missing? And how differently would I treat something if had I truly felt its miracle?

To read the full story of the paintings, click here.

This blog was written for an article in Transition Consciousness. To see the original article, click here.



Book of Beasts Begins

Book of Beasts will be a sumptuously illustrated, 300-page graphic novel adventure. It follows the journey of Poppy; lost, distracted and afraid. A chance encounter with an animal tracker pulls her deep into the Wild where she comes face to face with the mysteries of the more-than-human world. Yet this is not a story of some faraway land; set in the scruffy woods behind the estate, this is an adventure into the senses, courageous opening of hearts and experiencing a deep sense of wonder in the most unexpected of places.

This is my first major solo work continuing my Master's degree study and I am very excited to bring my whole self to this project.

On a technical level, I am looking forward to getting back to the roots, using only a pencil, but informed by twenty years of experience mastering animation, lighting, material and lens effects in high-end computer generated imagery.

For example, a key premise of the story is about awakening our senses and I am excited by the opportunity to illustrate synaesthetic effects like sounds and smells, as well as using depth of field to focus attention. I am also looking forward to experimenting with breaking out from the conventional picture boxes of graphic novels, playing with new ways to depict motion and the passage of time.

On a personal level, up until now, I feel my portfolio has reached a solid level of creative ideas and technical fluency, however none of it expresses my full capacity for integration, depth, meaning, honesty of emotion or my reverence for the Natural World. Working to a commercial brief for many years has inevitably narrowed my scope and I see Book of Beasts as the opportunity to bring together all my skills, experience, philosophies and ecological activism into one project.