Art is often connected to our subconscious minds and to our emotional, non-rational or intuitive responses to the world. For example, many of Noria Mabasa’s sculptures were inspired by her dreams. But there have been lots of other artists, from all cultures and ages, who have drawn on their spiritual or other-worldly lives in order to create art.
Deborah Bell, the sculptor who created The Sentinel, is intensely aware of the non-physical dimension of her life and her art. For her, “art-making is a spiritual practice in which the role of the artist is to ‘co-create the world, to materialise what exists and has existed for all time’.”
For this reason, she feels a close connection to the art of the people and civilizations of even the very distant past.
She speaks too of the existence of a “guardian spirit”. This is what she says about her carved Sentinels: “In the process of working, these columnar figures became guardians or sentinels. It came to me that if … everything exists as a sea of energy, then who are the observers who hold this material world in focus? I liked the idea of gods or angels who hold this world in place and protect us so that we can experience grand adventures.”
Visualisation: Your guardian figure
In the next activity (Soap Carving), we will follow in this tradition of drawing on dreams and our subconscious minds and imaginations, as we carve soap figures.
You will imagine your very own guardian spirit, before creating a sculpture inspired by that visualisation.
What do you understand by the term “guardian spirit”?
Do you feel you have one? Do you ever think of an ancestor who guides you? Or a guardian angel?
If you were to find your own guardian angel or spiritual guide, where would you look for such a being? In the distant past? Among your ancestors? In your religion?
In nature? In art? By meditating deep within yourself? In a dream you have had?
If you had a guardian spirit, what would this guardian look like?
Where we look for our guardian spirit is in itself culture-bound. Some might say it is bound up with belief or religion; others believe it is informed by our history, community or individual psychology. We all explore our spirituality – or our inner worlds, or even our sense of inner peace – in very different ways.