Painting as prayer in East Belfast
STORIES FROM THE ROAD: Ballymac Community, East Belfast, Northern Ireland.
We try to create a space for both the physical and spiritual aspects of our art making. We have a studio where we have a physical space in which to create or at least attempt to create. But perhaps a greater challenge is to create a spiritual space in which we can be truly present and mindful to one another and to the creative process. Peg and I work together on the same canvas at the same time, forging ideas together that neither of us would create alone. We experience this as both visual and verbal communication and believe that it takes courage, faith and time within this space to be transformed by the process. We believe we have to allow chaos early on in order to get to the deeper order that unifies. Our rushed and thoughtless behaviors give way to the quiet gift of being together.
We bring this process into the workshop setting as well, where we create paintings in large groups. As with our own work, these workshop settings involve prayer, silence and visual conversation. The visual language of color and shape facilitate thinking together and, as in all life, it can get messy. But out of the mess can come transformation. In life, as in conversation, ideas don’t move in a straight line. Idea development is organic and flowing in nature. When we begin our conversation it is important to let each of our voices be heard, allowing individuals to express unique perspectives. Arising from this conversation is a third element: the spiritual. At this stage, we begin to uncover the collective wisdom revealed from the depths of the painting. If we are willing to listen, be curious and respectful about the possibilities that come from these diverse voices, unification can rise from the chaos. We are always surprised by what we discover, what we hold in common through this process we call Painting as Prayer.