Welcome to the Muse
Art exhibitions celebrating AJA’s 40th year
At the first monthly meeting of AJA’s 40th anniversary year Lindsey Harris and Annette Elliot opened the first of a series four exhibitions of work by AJA artists which will run through this year of celebration. Speaking at the end of the evening after Andrew Samuels had spoken Lindsey Harris presented a short paper entitled Welcome to the Muse. It was so moving and inspiring that we asked Lindsey’s permission to publish it here on the AJA website.
Introduction to the AJA 40th Anniversary Exhibitions by Lindsey Harris
This exhibition gives a sample of the creative visual art made by ten people closely connected to AJA. Annette Elliot and I planned this show, and the three subsequent exhibitions later this year, because we wanted to encourage artistic expression and endeavour within AJA, and to help it be seen and valued, by staging these four consecutive shows. We thank the 10 artists for contributing here : Fiona Palmer Barnes, Jack Bierschenk, Brenda Crowther, Gottfried Heuer, Carola Mathers, Julienne McLean, Shayne Spitzer, Ruth Williams, Annette Elliot and myself.
Art can be defined simply as the expression or application of creative skill and imagination, especially through a visual medium. Jung was, among all his other attributes, a draughtsman and painter of considerable talent. For Jung, as well as for Gerhardt Adler and Erich Neumann, painting represented an engagement with the unconscious, and a central feature of their individuation process. There are a great number of Jung’s artworks in the Liber Novus, the Red Book, and the illustrations must certainly have contributed to its becoming such an astounding best seller… the eye is drawn to colour, design, and symbol.
The images you see on the walls here are symbolic too. Whatever form they take, or medium they are made in, they are, like all art and craft, the medium of the soul. By conscious effort, sometimes by struggle, involving sacrifice, and encompassing chance, the artist turns outwards to examine the world, and/or turns inwards to engage with their own sensations, emotional and feeling states, and intuitive imagination. The images presented here are containers of that original experience. What the maker preserves, in aspic so to speak, is a permanent outcome of those original sustaining and orientating qualities.
Rather similar to the space in the consulting room, art emerges in the meeting place of two worlds, between the flatlands of rationality, and the sublime realm of the divine. Art-making provides that meeting place, where the symbol can materialise through visual imagery. Art offers a way to win back the sacred, so that we are not isolated in narrow rationality. In art we can sometimes glimpse the radiance of the divine. Art-making opens the way to our own true nature, and through looking thoughtfully the viewer may find a way to their own nature too, and transcend ego boundaries. We return to the ocean of being and are restored. Looking at art in tranquillity fills our need for non-rational experiences of transcendence, what Wordsworth calls “home”.
Annette and I went to see the big Abstract Expressionism exhibition at the Royal Academy, and we discussed the effect that the two kinds of abstract painting – gestural and colour-field – had upon us; quite distinct responses when we started to differentiate them, and both equally valid.
Whether making art, or looking at art, it is good for the soul, and opens access to the mythopoetic realm of the unconscious. In CW6 Psychological Types, Jung mentions Schiller’s theory of the “mediating aesthetic function” and “the aesthetic disposition”. Jung suggests this might equally well be rendered “religious devotion”, calling it equivalent to our “symbol-forming activity” or “creative fantasy”. He says “the creative mind plays with the objects it loves” and the play instinct is the long-sought “mediatory activity” or “mediatory creative state”.
In the end, when we look at art, it is a private dialogue between each of us and the single work before us, and through the looking we can sometimes work out who we are, and if lucky expand our awareness. By the attention of our imagination, we can animate the image before us. Art points to something alive – that is its paradox.
Sometimes we can all find ourselves too caught up in our intellects, and may hardly notice wall-hung art, as if it is insignificant wallpaper. We hope that you will regard these pictures, and the subsequent exhibitions to come, as the serious expressions of those journeying on the path of individuation, as markers conveying the dimensions of the individual soul and its connection to the collective unconscious, to the archetypal realm, and to the natural world as metaphor. Out of the darkness, via the art, comes forth light, and shadow, and colour, and form, and image, and meaning.
We hope you will enjoy this show which lasts until 1st April, and then please return later this year to see the next 3 shows, running consecutively till 17th June, 7th October, and 16th December, when we will be exhibiting even more examples of AJA art (including we hope Sandy Damon’s). We hope you enjoy the exhibitions, and celebrate with us tonight, with Annette’s generous provision of refreshments, as we help to launch AJA’s 40th anniversary.
Visiting the Exhibitions
The exhibitions can be viewed by members at the flat by appointment. Photographs of the exhibitions in situ can be seen by following the links below: