When we see you
Changing pearls to half moons
To create, to combine, to play.
A Magician stands at a table, surrounded by loose, unfurling flowers. An array of tools, cubes, and half moons are spread out before them. They look back, remembering something. In their hand is a yellow pearl.
They are dreaming of something and working with their hands to create it. They are an artist.
What is an artist?
Joseph Beuys said that everyone is an artist, meaning everyone has the inherent potential to change what is around them.
With this in mind, perhaps to be an artist, is to enact change. To make a piece of art could be to change something.
When you change what is around you, you change your relationship to the world. Changing whats around you creates new meaning in your life.
To be an artist is to create meaning.
But how do you change something into a piece of art?
The Magician is holding a yellow pearl, keeping it close to their chest.
To fall in love with the creative process we have to find a piece of inspiration. It could be a word, a colour, a flower. This small fragment of inspiration seems to suggest something, like a distant mirage, or a dream memory.
Hold on to that piece very carefully, follow it.
When you find your inspiration you have to bring it into the space of creation; the artist’s table, studio, or practice room. Here it can be nurtured, cared for, and allowed to grow.
On the Magician’s table we see an array of different objects, materials, and tools; ingredients ready to be combined
Art is about combinations.
To write a poem, make a painting, or form a sculpture, we have to begin combining things. They could be objects, ideas, words, emotions, images.
When you put two words together in a poem or two textures beside one another in a painting, there is a reaction. Many times, this reaction will say nothing. But every so often, if we keep putting things together, a reaction will occur that you weren’t planning.
At first you may discard this reaction.
But something will call you back, a feeling of unease, tension or nervousness around your combination may creep in.
If this begins to happen, you may have found a tension point between two things that do not usually come together. This feeling of tension, signals you have created something new, something you may not yet understand.
Follow this feeling.
The Magician’s messy table of elements encourages us to connect and contrast different things in a spirit of experimentation.
If we bring things together in a spirit of play and enquiry, doorways will be opened to tense, glistening moments of colour, sound, and air.
But the Magician is not called an artist. They are a Magician.
What does Magic have to do with art?
Magic can be said to be a supernatural force that affects change in the world through mysterious means.
This speaks to the sense that at its root, art is mysterious.
The moment inspiration arrives, or a work of art happens cannot be forced. We can show up to our work table, arrange our materials and act out our techniques, but ultimately, the best work, simply appears.
Most artists will admit they don’t really know how or why they do what they do.
Agnes Martin counselled artists to follow their inspiration, all the way. By this she meant to not let any ideas, or justifications come in the way of realising your initial mysterious pull to create something. She meant trusting deeply in the voice within that shows you what to make.
To follow your inspiration all the way, is to believe in something beyond yourself.
The Magician is creating in the present, but they are looking to the left, to the past. They are remembering their inner child.
Within each of us, there is a child. This inner child symbolizes our innocence, vulnerability and, spontaneous free spirit. In the early stages of creation, too much expectation for a final outcome will create fear in the inner child’s creative desire.
The child’s desire to create is the desire to play
To play is to be in the present moment
To play is to believe.
We see only three legs on the Magician’s table; the table is not yet finished. This reminds us that at its heart, creativity is not about a final outcome.
It’s a process.
A process is something that is ongoing, something that is changing.
The Magician shows us that everything is changing
To create is to enter into this change
And when we create something new
we can become something new.
Artwork comes from a collaborative project interpreting the Arcana of the Tarot between Jack O’Flynn and Connie Hurley, conducted by post.
Connie is an artist and star living in Edinburgh who is interested in gendered social and support structures, DIY methods of making, folklore narratives, processes and love. her work moves between sculpture, installation, performance, curation, facilitation and friendship. https://cargocollective.com/conniehurley
Jack O’Flynn 2021