It all began with a question, as usual.
What, I asked myself, is my purest intention regarding my art practice? What is my highest aspiration? It might sound a touch heady, but I do think it’s good practice to occasionally revisit one’s focus and intent, because these things change as time passes. I am now in the lovely position of making for the sheer wonder of it; concerns with selling and exhibiting no longer invade the playground. So what drives me to make, now?
Mulling these questions was juicy and productive, like shining a light into the dim corners of my experience, spotlighting the details and seeing how everything has interconnected to bring me to this perspective, now.
Once I had clarified my overview (about which, more later – maybe) and recognised that my intentions for my work and my life were identical (surprise, surprise), the next question presented itself: How could I make a container to hold these intentions? It occurred to me that the container should be made out of something I’d created in the past, to symbolise the way one’s via creativa morphs and meanders over time. I also wanted it to be constructed in a way that reflected my journey from textile artist to … whatever I am now.
I dug deep in the boxes of bits and pieces that make up my studio ratpack. (I keep everything: my belief is that everything is on its own journey – paper, canvas, thread, pigment, brushes – and I’ve lived long enough to see how those journeys are often linked to my own in unforeseeable ways. Often many years pass before those links become evident, and I’m always grateful that I didn’t toss too soon.)
As I write this I regret not having taken photos of the two semi-circular pieces of pulped paper with embedded crochet that surfaced as candidates for my container. They had, in fact, been a big bowl made circa 1987 in New Zealand. My nomadic lifestyle meant everything had to be easily stored, so I had cut the bowl in half then soaked and pressed the pieces flat. That was thirty years ago.
Now I cut the two pieces in half again, then soaked and pressed these four quarters of the original bowl into a plastic mixing bowl from the kitchen. Paper pulp is such a pliable, forgiving, merciful material! In a few days the form was dry. I removed it from the plastic bowl and reinforced the overlapping quarters with wire stitches. The interior was painted, and the exterior given a touch up.
You’re a very fine bowl, thought I, placing it on the little stand I’d made with a circular plastic pipe cap from the plumbing department at the hardware store. (It was covered with paper mâché and painted to match the bowl – thus a little secret space was created under the bowl. I love secret spaces.)
But that wasn’t the end of it. The bowl was hungry. My vision hadn’t included writing my intentions down; it was enough to have unearthed and clarified them. But now the bowl was whispering and I was listening. There should be offerings, it said.
So on the Summer Solstice the third phase of the project began. I wrote my most important intention down on a scrap of Japanese washi and rolled it into a tiny scroll. Into the bowl it went, and each day for a full six months it was joined by another little scroll. They began as intentions and soon included blessings and prayers and praises – whatever thought or feeling turned up to be offered during my morning contemplation time.
On the morning of the Winter Solstice, the last scroll went into the bowl. Life had neatly arranged a new project, one which I recognised to be an exquisite response to the intentions I’d offered up six months earlier. In the company of mind-shifters Peter Kingsley and Michael Brown I began a transformative inner adventure of such significance that I now think of my life as pre- and post- this journey. And from this new perspective who knows what will express in the studio?
I’ve never been drawn to ritual, even though my relationship with objects borders on the metaphysical. But my soul bowl, a container with an unforeseen ability to speak into my heart and elicit its deepest longing, is clearly a ritual object. Surging into creation at one Solstice and ebbing at the next, it is one of those life-happenings that keep me infused with awe and awake to the immensity of the unknowable.
Miriam Louisa Simons – Soulstice Bowl, 190mm high x 260mm diameter. Pulped Arches watercolour paper, gold lurex thread, wire, acrylic paint, Japanese washi, various threads. 1987 – 2016
Peter Kingsley: pre-Socratic scholar and student of the Sufi path, whose book Reality demonstrates (among many other things) how the ancient Greeks gifted us a system capable of bringing a human being to the experience of reality. What would it be like to be fully, continually aware of all of our senses – and what’s more, to be aware of that very awareness? How can we “come to our senses”, be fully and maturely wideawake?
Michael Brown: one the most wise, humble and generous human beings I’ve come across, who gave me contemporary tools and support material to independently excavate the archaeology of that energetic terrain – at the vibrational level: a never-ending adventure into integration.
24 thoughts on “soulstice bowl”
How beautiful. Thanks for sharing your journey. I love the little scrolls.
Thank you Amrita – it’s been an extraordinary adventure, quite shocking really. I’m only slowly finding a vocabulary to match it… the bowl seemed a good place to start. ❤
Inspirational and beautiful ML, thank you xxx
A deep bow to you dear Suzanne – thank you for such a generous comment. ❤
As a lover of objects and their aliveness, i bow to this. What a wondrous life and work, and deeply meaningful – so much holiness in those scrolls, and also the very paper they are made of
deep gratitude to you
writing this, two magpies lands of the railing of the balcony, 2 meters away from where I sit. Black and white and rather plump they are
Nina, your comment brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for understanding my dear friend. We walk together. x
Your sharing brings inspiration this morning Miriam! At a cross roads myself, I followed your adventure with form and substance with the wonder so needed in bringing anything “into being” with the fullness of our experience. I feel very blessed in venturing here this morning…. thank you for this.
Lovely Jana – thank you for reading and commenting.
When the bowl was being made I too was at a crossroads, quite lost in fact, and the truth is I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I just followed the prompts and kept it all very close to my chest. It’s only a year later that I can see the way the alchemy worked, and understand the power of held intention. It’s so subtle. Nothing to do with affirmation on the verbal level.
I still struggle to find a language for the dynamic.
You will find it easier – you are a wordsmith and poet of the highest order!
De Light Ful!
My pondering of your delicate re-construction has illuminated a very welcome, different aspect of reality within in me. As I find myself in the midst of some full on deconstruction, there is a sense of relief and anticipation in the old becoming new, the re-discovery of that which was previously built and dismantled.
My words seem a poor descriptor for the feeling within me, but I know if anyone will understand, it is you. Love.
Yes, dear Lyn. First the deconstruction – the emptying – then the astonishment that everything one thought should be otherwise is perfect, and everything one thought one needed is already present in the timeline of one’s life. It’s like a subtle refining of one’s view, and I suspect the process is endless. Such a joy to be sharing this adventure with you my friend. ❤
This is glorious Miriam. I’m making bowls from clay. There’s something holy about the space inside. I’m inspired to make intention scrolls as you…
What a pleasure to know you’ve visited @clinock! (Do reveal your name so I can be more polite!)
I am deeply inspired by bowls – their form and their function – but further, the holiness, as you put it. The whole ‘form and emptiness’ thing…
Are you firing your bowls? Maybe one could make little scrolls with paperclay, or a fine slip?
Hand built and fired. One could make scrolls with clay but writing on them first might be delicate. Thank you for your reply…John
– Esme loving everything about this upon the Cloud
I’m delighted you floated down to have a peek at wonderingmind studio … I shared your comment with my soul bowl and swear it’s humming with approval and delight.
Magical. I never thought of that word, but it fits. Thank you dear Esme.
mmmmm yes, a bowl that is literally woven and filled with the sacred — of the seen (the roughness and patina of the interior, the delicately rolled washi scrolls) and also the unseen — the space and the mystery. The photos are wonderful, but no doubt seeing it in person brings another energy altogether (which seems to seep out through your words in such a wonderful way). 🙂 Thank you for sharing with us! I had not known of Michael Brown, but am glad to have his website brought to my attention. The juiciness that oozes from your words and life, dear L, are such a delight to this heart. ❤
It’s a mutual delight dear Bev – a dance between two sister-souls as they explore what it means to be fully human. Thank you for your luminous company!
Miriam – I’ve just chanced upon your blog. I love your Soulstice Bowl and the poetic, engaging way you’ve described the process of creating it. Thank you. Refreshing.
Thank you Sally – it’s a delight to meet you! And to think you’re here in Australia … I’m exploring your website right now – it seems we share a passion for creativity!
It’s a small small world. A passion for creativity. Yes indeed. It is core – central in my world. And yours, too, I see. Best wishes to you … and I imagine that we might connect further across the Australian ether.
So happy I settled down here. A lovely post, the writing, the thought, the art. Much to admire and appreciate: thank you.
Thank you Lynn! A warm welcome to you – and I am simply delighted to be introduced to your own stunning blog. It looks set to gobble up a great deal of my time today! Wonderful writing… and your photography is awesome. A rare find.
So nice to hear, Miriam. I’ll be back, too!