Qigong, Meditation, and Lumpy Paper!.
Some art is really complicated and other art is really simple. Indeed some artists are really complicated and others are really simple. Sometimes the complicated is actually rather simple, and the other way round as well.
So this blog is about art that looks simple but is actually gloriously complex, meaningful, deep, and interesting.
A really great example is the work by artist Gill Hickman. She makes simple, calm, and easy to comprehend textural art-pieces. At first glance they are just abstract patterns on bumpy paper.
But they have deep complex layers of strength as well. This is because Gill’s work has an underlying foundation based on her daily meditation practice. In fact Gill teaches meditation and is a keen advocate of the health benefits of Qigong practice.
Qigong: (pronounced “Chi Kung”) A holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for health, spirituality, and martial arts training.
Gill believes that art, meditation and visualisation can support one’s health and well-being. She is inspired by patterns, layers and textures in the environment and in life, viewing life as a journey of discovery, in which layers are gradually peeled away to reveal underlying lessons and truths.
An example of her art that is simple at first glance is Gill’s artwork called Five Chinese Elements.
The piece shows five simple shapes and basic colours on embossed tactile hand-made top-quality paper squares. But the simplicity is deceptive because it actually captures the whole essence of everything in just five elemental statements based on ancient Chinese understandings.
In Chinese belief there are five elements; water, wood, fire, earth, and metal as opposed to the western four; fire, water, earth and air.
Each of the Chinese elements is said to be connected with an animal, a colour, particular body organs and also to certain emotional states both positive and negative.
In summary these are:-
bright blue – bear – kidneys/ bladder – breathe out fear and fatigue, breathe in gentleness.
green – deer – liver/ gall bladder – breathe out anger, breathe in kindness/courage.
red – phoenix – small intestine/ heart – breathe out sadness and cruelty, breathe in joy and sincerity.
yellow – monkey – spleen/ stomach/ pancreas – breathe out worry, breathe in trust and honesty.
white – tiger – lungs/ large intestine – breathe out grief, breathe in vitality and openness.
The Chinese saw five symbolic animals, a bear, deer, phoenix, monkey and tiger.
Worldwide we all have the same parts of the human body and we all share the same mental and social elements.
The basic shapes shown in Gill’s artwork depict from left to right: water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. The colours are blue, green, red, yellow and white. The pieces are embellished with precious metals, 24 carat gold & silver leaf.
One way to appreciate Gill’s work is to breath out and let it come to you as you breath in.
So, if you are ready to look at Gill’s art piece again, when you breath out realize that you are breathing out fear and fatigue, anger, worry, and grief. Then as you breath in you will open yourself to gentleness, kindness and courage, joy and sincerity, trust and honesty, and finally vitality and openness.
I told you that it wasn’t as simple as it looks.
Gill is a fellow artist showing her work in Skylark Galleries on the Southbank in London.