Workshop on Mystic Paths, and new studio notes.

I recently returned from my workshop in Devon on finding our own unique mystic paths. This was a four day workshop; I think four days is a good length of time in which to dive deep into our own creative and psychological processes. I always hold the space kindly, gently, warmly, and with humour.

Drumming in the yurt, Devon.

Notes from my Lesson Plan…
11 am yurt
Welcome, few mins each on what has drawn them to this course and what their hopes are. Smudging and why. Altar, objects, bringing someone in energetically. My approach – high energy, high vibration, tuning to the highest power and source. Intro to shamanic journeying. Protective meditation.
Power animal journey. Meeting or reacquaintance. Notes and drawings.
Second and third journey to ask about mystic paths in our lives and in our bodies. How do they look? Are they shining? Where are they taking us? Why do we need them? How do mystic paths come into our lives, our bodies? Think about occasions in your life when they might have appeared/you might have felt them…draw and write from this…tuning into your body as you do this…and asking to see the internal paths, the whisperings from our organs, the vagus nerve. Draw and write about both. Books.

Tuesday 9.30 am meet outside yurt with glass of water. Meditation to cleanse and energise chakras with sun and water.
How are we distracted from our life work? Why are we here on earth, what do we have to give to others, to realise in ourselves? Life path. Coffee break. 11.30.
Fourth journey to ask about the angel out ahead, read from Corbin relevant paragraphs, after some talking about this. How the angel comes backwards to meet us, and we meet by going forwards towards it (genderless).
Find spirit guide first. Journey.
Spirit guide journey to ask about this. Drawings and writing.
Hugging in silence and stillness; tuning in; and drawing any images which arrive.
Assignment for the afternoon:
Time spent looking at the work of Tom Cheetham, Corbin and Halifax. Choose some phrases which are lit up for you, which ‘sing.’ Open pages at random.
Lunch and free time to draw, look at books
3.30pm The path of the visionary, the 5D world, the intertwining of the visionary and the everyday 3 D worlds. Shamanic journey using a text or phrase as a starting point – asking the journey to help us understand the writing at a higher level.

Dance perhaps or seaswim….

9.30 am meditation with water.
Time spent looking at iconic imagery perhaps Christian, Islamic, indigenous, (Arctic catalogue) and ask for pointers towards our own iconography – draw after and during shamanic journeys.
Lunch, time alone and with books, own work.
4pm Drawing and painting to music and read texts. Swim?
Thursday, meditation
Shamanic journey to ask how we can be a truthful beautiful high energy instrument. Draw and write about this and allow the creative process to be part of the refinement of the image or imagery which arrives for you.
What sounds would you make in the world? Who would play you? How would you be strung?
How would you purify and elevate your pitch? What do you need to do in your world to keep yourself tuned, vibrating? Write and draw about this, allow it to settle into you. Have a sense of it absorbing, being absorbed by your cells. So important to be tuned to the highest possible source and frequency. Make a journey to ask about this, and about how to bring more beauty into one’s own world.
Last afternoon
Summary of all we’ve achieved. Looking outwards to Ukraine and other traumatised areas; asking what we can do – a journey. Then a ceremony perhaps to send energy and healing.
Thinking about climate emergency, and how we deal with tuning into catastrophe. Read aloud some of that essay? Finding a language and a way to be with what is coming. Meditation and journey.
Protective meditation and circle, closing song etc..

Recent studio notes…

Backwards from Aug 22nd
Phallus breaching upwards growing like a tree, growing sideways towards her breasts.
When he thinks of me it’s as if something ‘locks on’ to my thoughts/being – its inescapable; doesn’t usually last very long…

I make two weak drawings of my dream. A phallus growing from the base of my tongue; or, my tongue branches into tongue and phallus, and the phallus grows upward to my crown, through my skull. Mouth as cathedral; kundalini awake. And somehow happening to S too; or she was there…
Using the paint in a luscious way and inspired by Auerbach, some landscapes, flowers, giving a voice to Nature, and the woman with the horse, queen with stallion.

A pure vessel allows pure spirit through to shine. No impediment or altering of spirit’s voice.
With the heart-light in his breath.

Dream of a house stripped down to bricks, like you find in Venice or Italy; 4-square and strong, brick with layers of plaster/render stripped off, standing alone in the ground, felt it was Italy. A few other people came and went, including a man I was a bit afraid of. It has many windows.

She collects water from her body. KARA fish shoo away bad energy. Saying sorry to water. Hana. The tree of all seeds in the vast body of the waters.

The man swims up through my body, to kiss the inside of my mouth, and the lower part of my brain.
She learns to hear the lost speech.
The soothing of and for the male.
‘To be successful in the arts is not a matter of summarizing’ Delacroix wrote, but of amplifying where it is possible, and of prolonging the sensation by every means. P 6 Auerbach catalogue Venice biennale 1985.

Early Persian tree
Tree of all seeds – all in the whole world – in a heavenly ocean or on a sat-studded mountain – 10,000 seeds. Kind of healing plants – elixir –
Phoenix bird original pre Islam half dog half phoenix bird has peacock feathers, she’s a mother and a healer, strong and protective. She will give you a feather. She nests in the tree, she lands, her wings slap the branches, seeds are released into the ocean.
Another version – a male half dog half eagle sits under the tree, catches seeds, puts them up into rain clouds (twin is shadow side). Zoroastrian story – oral – saying sorry to water…

From Wikipedia:
Trees specially evergreens and ancient trees are the symbol of Immortals in Zoroastrianism. The link between trees, “Immortality and deathlessness” ameretát is established in the poetic gathas, See Yasna 51.7.

The original gathic poetry reads as follows: apas-čá ûrvarávs-čá ameretátá haûrvátá. Here the word for “tree” is ûrvar, and the word for “immortality, deathlessness” is ameretát.

Avestan ûrvará “tree” is a cognate of Latin arbor “tree.” Other cognates are Latin arvus “ploughed field,” and Mycenaean Greek aroura “arable land.”

Trees also come in close connection with “prophetic vision and oracles” in the Avestan poetry. The süd-kar gathic commentary of Yasna 31.5 narrates the vision of an immense tree with four branches, of gold, silver, steel, and “mixed-up” iron, which symbolize the four future ages of this world.

The “mixed-up” iron symbolizes the present age of admixture that is the calamitous age of invasion/contamination by demons.

An Avestan passage in Yasht/hymn 12/17, praises the tree of the great mythical “falcon or eagle” saæna that stands in the middle of the “wide-shored ocean” vôúrú-kašahæ.

The eagle/falcon tree is a wondrous evergreen that keeps away decrepitude and death. It is called all healing with good and potent medicine. The seeds of all medicinal plants are deposited on it.

Saæna “falcon, eagle,” of the Avesta, is the mythical bird of Persian Mythology Sīmorḡwho is said to perch every year on this sacred tree located in the middle of wide-shored ocean, to mix its seeds with pure waters, which Tištar (Three-star, Sirius) then rains down on all the 7 climes of the earth, thus causing the growth of all kind of healing plants.

The Avestan saæna, Persian Sīmorḡ is a cognate of Sanskrit śyená. The Russian word for “falcon” sókol is a borrowing from the same word in ancient Iranian.

In the Avestan Yašt/hymn 14.41 Vərəθraγna, the god being of VICTORY, wraps xᵛarnæ, “glory, good fortune,” round the house of the worshipper, in the same way that the great falcon/eagle Saæna, cover the great mountains like the clouds.

In Zoroastrian religious ceremonies, “small branches or twigs” of an evergreen (mostly cypress trees) or fruit tree (usually pomegranate) called barəsman, form an important part of the sacred ritual. Barəsman is derived from the root barəz “to grow high.” German berg“high” is a cognate.

Barəsman “sacred twigs” are one of the requisites of a “fire priest,” Āθravan (See Vendidad 14.8,) and constitute an essential ritual implement for various liturgical services such as yasná “yearning, longing” (Greek zelós is a cognate,) and afrîn prayers, literally “loving charms” that are Avestan benediction formulas.

The Persian word for tree is draxt also dár ó draxt. The word comes from the Avestan daûrû going back to the reconstructed Proto Indo European *dóru, and is a cognate of Russian дерево (dérevo); Polish drewno; Greek δόρῠ (dóru); Gothic triu; Old English trēow “tree,” (See Didier Calin, Encyclopedia of Indo European poetic and religious themes.)

Trees in Mazdyasna “Mazda worshipping religion/Zoroastrianism” are sacred, and embody immense and enduring life and deathlessness of consciousness.

Sarv-e Abar kuh, literally the Cypress tree of the über-mountain also called the “Zoroastrian tree,” is a cypress tree in Central Yazd province of Iran. The tree is estimated to be at least 4,000 years old and believed to have witnessed the dawn of ancient Iranian civilization.

Herodotus (7.31) reports that at Callatebus in Asia Minor, the Achaemenid Xerxes (486-65 B.C.E.) found a plane tree so beautiful that he decorated it with golden ornaments and put it under the care of one of his Immortals.

The sacred attitude toward venerable trees has continued in Iran to the present day, but with the transfer of devotion from Zoroastrian Immortals to Twelver Shiʿite Saints.

Often, the very pine and cypress trees that had flanked Zoroastrian fire temples in the Sassa­nid period continue to shade the tombs of emāmzādas and other shia saints today.

In general, however, Iran has suffered from continuous, great deforestation over the centuries after the arab invasion.

Sanctity of trees in Zoroastrianism meant legal sanctions against profaning or destroying them in the Mazdean Jurisprudence. Such legal protections for trees did sadly not continue into the Islamic age. Yet the folk belief that anybody felling a tree will be short-lived, and cuts on his/her good fortune goes back to the deep-rooted ancient religion of the Iranians.

New writing for myself and for Sally Tripptree.

Here is some text I wrote recently for Sally Tripptree’s joint show at The Crypt Gallery in London.

All the little, tiny, overlooked & forgotten births.

Writing on Sally Tripptree’s paintings by Kate Walters.

Spending time with these luscious drawings and paintings there’s a sense for me of being drawn through something; the image which comes is of a comb, or a filter; a pressing though, a milking, fangs against a beaker drawing out the venom, milk-white it drips; she might be pulled through by her hair; but pulled through she is, and the strands of the hair – the pink or the blue – the lightest of touches meets the flesh where it’s brushed with infinite gentleness.

We see mouthfuls of peaches on her tongue – they’re the colour of figs – and we see the holding of bodies, the insides of breasts or of hands cupping, a stroking of flesh. We ask if the flesh has been skinned. It’s muscular and full of blood; it’s blushing from a rushing of blood to the surface through stroking by eyes or hands; such an active heart, pumping a tumescence, an arousal of all the tissues.

This body is being re-membered (& all our bodies). Through this process we enter the shadow with Sally. She’s a warrior entering the cave – the dark place – to become whole. She finds light in the darkness. The making of these images is about enabling ourselves to see, even though it might feel uncomfortable. Births are often difficult, even obstructive, and always involve a crossing over: separation, expulsion, muscular contraction in mammals or the breaking of skins, seeds or shells in other beings. Being born is about going into another, different state. These works are about little re-births, the birthing of parts of the Self to make a new less wounded Whole.

Sally trusts in the shamanic/creative process to take her into the 5D reality where she knows she’ll find solutions. The beings which help her are invited to guide her hands in this 3D world, where things are manifested, made physical. Our bodies are also spirit made gorgeous flesh, blood & muscle; the walls of our hearts and the walls of our organs line the way of Sally’s journey, they lay down with their tiny cellular hands the cinders of her pilgrimage path.

In a dream of Sally which came to me recently she was pregnant, and there was a golden mare connecting with her. She’s pregnant in all these pictures: pregnant with healing and knowing; with holding and carrying and opening; with bursting and tearing and she becomes through her art a “Divinely built castle’ with knowing of ‘the heavenly ones’.

The heart is a ball of golden seeds from an age-old sacrifice ensuring fertility; there are shining teeth smiling at us here; fruiting bodies, ripening follicles exploding into the fingers of airy Fallopian tubes; feeling unseen, she brings her unseen-ness to the light – she makes her own light – she thinks about giving on another level, going through the doorways of barren-ness to a wonder-dress of new skin.

There are chaotic, crazed and charged lines of nightmare and loss; disappointment opens the belly into a cave, simultaneously draining the heart; there’s the boundedness of breath and body, wish and hope, joy and sorrow. There’s the mashing of impulse and memory into the sore-lipped womb; then like a miracle the teeming muscular flower opens – and a butterfly beats against the window, softly.

As I spend time with these paintings a silver fairy on the floor sleeping will waken & watch me from the pigment scattered around my feet.

You can feel Sally’s animated fingers meshing with the pigment, or dressing the wounds with ointment & white gauze; she brings unguents, she anoints, baptises all the lost minds, all the bodies who have lost their minds: she brings them together.

She washes limbs after wars, she dresses the column of the spine with embracing breasts, she dreams about ‘blowing out my shadow’, and in the morning the perfume of the soul lingers over her bed, animal body waking with a snort: not lost, she’s reddening, transforming, bringing her pale-bone ribs to pierce the skin of all our shadows.

Kate Walters. July 2022

with his golden words he tries to hide or stop her bleeding… work almost complete…oil on canvas.

and a few studio notes, first draft, from July after my solo show at Arusha Gallery…so feeling my way back into the painting, and changing my focus slightly, aligning with my feelings around the coming climate catastrophe…and the need for us to not turn away from the trauma this will birth in us and all creatures, peoples…
Studio notes from black notebook July and August 2022
Going backwards from July 31st

Mother Nature bleeds, empties her womb
With his words he tries to hide or stop mother nature’s bleeding
Her tears go into the funnel of a flower

In the drawing their heads are wrapped in the long golden arms of dream and there’s a dark space where their mouth is
His tears make an arm
He’s a man with crying words, with words that cry
He’s a man whose words cry
She’s a woman with her tongue in flowers, her tongue on fire

I’ll paint a picture of me with all the flowers at all my centres
And I’ll remember the journey to the clouds and the ladder and the dark man who came to meet me up there and told me that all that matters is LOVE; it’s all there is.
I’ll paint an animal -headed creature holding me.

And a couple embracing and their antler wings growing from their backs and from spirit (she likes them) and into their hearts their thoraxes like butterflies they carry the memory of who they were before in their sap, their green blood, the drawn fluid, the velvet tips, my closed eyes and your breath so light like the drawing, hesitant

In the painting her vulva becomes the top of his head/wounded/injured place.

Hearing a family of blackbirds in the garden and watching their flying lessons
I wake from a long and difficult dream
I draw him with the young angel rising like a new planet from his navel or a cloud of semen or a branch growing horizontally from one tree to another; it’s an eye encased in wood or tears with thick blonde lashes making a pool where you might bathe

And I will give him some of my petals to line his chest cavity, making a new bed for his wounded heart
I paint the beauty of his soul – or some other mythic male who comes through him –
And I read about, am inspired by, the great bright bulls who run with milk and carry babies in all their bellies, who rub up butter and milk with themselves (as I do)
and it will rain with seed

I paint myself settling like a flower in his thought

My dog looks up at my face to see if I am crying. She keeps doing this.
Yesterday afternoon when I was crying she placed her front paws on my chest, and looked into my face with such love and empathy. She knew I was sad and she did all she could to show me she knew and she was sorry, and she wanted to comfort me.

The blood on the floor from my cut foot looks like a pool of paint. I dip my finger in it, I draw the horse’s head.

I read Jung and what he wrote about the opposites slumbering side by side;
After my dream of the charge and my navel and my father (and the message which arrived about him a week later, strange)and the analyst and you and I lying side by side, head to toe, like ouroboros you said, the snake which rides above your nipple over your heart. (24.07.22)
Photos below taken on Iona, of the spirit of the man-angel who was with me, aroused, in the wall of the cave at the bay at the back of the ocean; and the eyes I saw watching me from the trees in the organic garden near the Nunnery.

Solo Show LOVE Paintings opens at Arusha Gallery Edinburgh on June 23rd…

Next week on Thursday June 23rd (6-8 pm) my third solo exhibition at Arusha Gallery will open. It will comprise of many paintings and some drawings made during the past two years. There will also be two wonderful supporting essays; one by Amy Hale and one by a collaborator and colleague who is a member of The College of Psychoanalysts. Below you will find a few images together with excerpts from both essays, and a little writing of mine…

Riding My Horse of all the Stars

Self-portrait with blue-seeding bulb

Here is an extract from Amy Hale’s essay:
Kate Walters: Love Paintings

When one imagines the representation of divine, sublime love, one might envision a visual debt to the classical philosophical tradition where love has historically been equated to beauty, to transcendence, to a sort of perfection that can only be ultimately expressed in the immaterial. This perfection of love calls to mind delicate lines, bright and light colors, lofty and idealized figures, flawless in form, unreachable. This is not the picture of divine love Kate Walters unveils in Love Paintings, but be assured it is no less perfect. This is a glimpse into the soul of a woman in love, empowered, and, knowing her true self, opens herself up to receive the divinity of the embodied Other. This love is exalted, but it is also earthy, material, present, and it can crack you open like a fragile egg, revealing your most delicate inner places. Walters does not tell us stories of distant gods, these are great powers of love inhabiting mortal bodies, experiencing delirium, transformation, and rebirth. The colors are dark, the paint is thick, the pieces are sticky and raw. Walters gives us holy love in manifestation, an eternal play enacted in flesh and fluid. This makes it no less idealistic, no less something that we can strive for, but it is something that we can know. Yet to achieve this knowledge of love, you must be prepared to be a vessel, a vehicle for the spirits to live and love through, so they can experience the bliss of conjunction through your body, to be touched, and to be undone by love’s revelation.

The key to understanding Walters’ work is to know her as a shaman. She is a walker between worlds, a spirit worker, and her art is fundamentally about bringing Spirit into the material plane. She is called to in her dreams, which become a source of knowledge from other realms and dimensions, lending a sense of uncanny perception and inspiration to her work. Yet embodiment is central to both her art and her process. Although the shamanic world is where the power that is beyond her lies, Walters uses trance, dance and motion to call Spirit forward while painting, using ecstatic techniques to release herself from the confines of the rational mind: “When you release from here, from the brain, that’s when the beauty comes. My guides will hold me and then they will show me. They won’t show me until I let go.” Walters believes that all our guides want to experience living in the world and they want to know the world through our bodies. In Love Paintings Walters asks what fires the body? What state of rapture evokes Spirit into us all?

………….. the essay in its entirety will be available from the gallery at the opening.

Second extract: from a collaborator and colleague, Member of The College of Psychoanalysts.

Kate Walters’ Love Paintings give us portals to step through the material world into the spirit world. She takes us into the oldest love story of all: the story of the Sumerian Goddess Inanna and her lover Dumuzi. The Love Paintings and the ancient text tell the story with such intensity that the body’s flesh becomes incandescent with divine spirit, and the divine spirit becomes richly textured with sensuous embodiment and exhilaration. An urgency courses through the work as the figures communicate in their ecstasy and also in the fullness of their repose.
If we allow ourselves a moment of awareness, we will notice that the new life that is born out of this intensity takes different forms. We can identify in these paintings various different literal forms of new life. Some are more conventional than others, such as the new relationship, or the new baby, or a renewed aliveness and energy for life. And then there is the new life that is apparent not for the new form that is taken but for the new category of life that is created. In the story of Inanna the category of life that is being created is the world of the imagination. Through the creation, the telling and retelling of the story, the rich reality of the world around us is revealed through the way it is seen and thought about. How we think about and understand the world around us has become infused with meaning, so we can experience it with exhilarating beauty and devastating horror. The Great Inanna, Goddess of Love and Beauty, calls him, Dumuzi, to plough her vulva for he is the one whom her womb loves best, he can caress her thighs, be taken to her bed and plant himself in the garden of her body. And the world flourishes. This is not only literal. This ritual act does not only make the barley grow high or the peach swell with sweet juices or the body ache with desire. It also creates the psychic reality that enables us to know all of this and to share in the experience of it with awareness. This is not a new form for life to show itself in. It is a new category of life.

The whole essay will also be available to read from the gallery at the opening on June 23rd.

Third extract: from some of my studio notes, made either in my studio or in the early morning when I waken from dreams:
I’m listening to a lactating Angel and I paint your face as if every cell is coming, your gaze tumescent, golden tongue a milky muscle churning and I’m still and dark holding my womb of blossoms she’s wrapped around your golden stalk you holy lover of mine and your other cock it climbs up through the spine of the deer (I paint the second cock out later)

I need to paint the dream I had of ploughing with my heart (now you plough me with your heart, your words & thoughts which come tap-tapping all night long at my window )

I’m giving birth to the angel of black-lighted wings, the inner woman who secretes her own light; I’m growing a cage of cartilage crafted from feathery spines around my heart and I’m filling it – pouring into it – a green light.
“Becoming the mother of her father” – the mystical soul – Henry Corbin, p 21 (The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism)

The day my special horse arrived and we walked through the field together, our hair blowing together, one of the happiest days of my life, silent and peaceful. My mane and her tail were the same flaxen colour.

With the Angel as the wind and my sail:
“You proposed a point/for beauty and for love / and tried to form / if only in imagination / a new sea” from ‘you who sail alone’ by Adeep Kamal Ad-Deen trans. by Roger Moger in Archaic: The Pavilion of Iraq Venice Biennale 2019

Painting thought: with her/my legs beginning to fold into another dimension at the prospect of mating with the angel (this image was lost but will rise again)

Body in Bliss Eros caressing Psyche Synesthesia II. for the Symposium, coming soon!
Parallels / Encounters: Art, Words and their Meetings.
Online | 10am – 2pm, 30th June & 7th July

A two-part symposium on the parallel of art and words in contemporary visual art practices and how they come together in forms of publication.

Featuring discussions, practical workshops, and sharing of practice with contributors from different perspectives of these encounters, we invite you to join as an artist, writer, maker, curator, reader, gallerist, or someone otherwise connected to this field.

Further information and Booking Here:

Third eye stirrings and openings

Please follow the link above for the post in full…text is below
The sowing of new seeds.

‘In the dream I leave your house. You follow me, we talk, and laugh as we used to. You place your hands around the back of my head, your fingers massaging my well of dreams; my hair springs up between your fingers.’

— Extract from A Love Letter (2021) by Kate Walters

For over three decades, writer and artist Kate Walters has been carving a creative practice that departs from – and incorporates – shamanistic beliefs.

Her sensitive and expansive approach seeks to think through and uncover quotidian mysteries. Walters delves into the subconscious in order to better understand our human personhood and innate ambitions. In addition to embracing female sexuality as a form of power, her creative process seeks to give consciousness to other beings, such as animals and spirits.

While researching her regularly-posted works, which appear like a stream of raw consciousness on her Instagram, a recent painting captured my attention. The portrait of a female figure outlined in richly-applied brown paint is rendered naked gazing directly at the viewer while expelling red fluid – blood, semen, milk or perhaps even rope? – out of her vagina.

Simultaneously recognisable yet abstract, the work is raw and intense, unforgiving and elusive like artist Lee Lozano’s animistic paintings of tools and faces from the 50s and 60s. Walters’s desire for ambiguity is key to unlocking this piece. Looking to find ‘The Man in The Woman’ and ‘The Woman in The Man,’ she seeks to destabilise inequalities of power, gender, age and sexuality.

Her painting has since been named ‘​​The Red Cord’ and selected for the 2022 BEEP Painting Biennial in Swansea, Wales. Its caption reads, ‘Detail of a new painting in progress. An initiation I think; piercings, penetrations and realising. Crown, third eye stirrings and openings, the sowing of new seeds.’ Also named is her upcoming LOVE Paintings solo exhibition at Arusha Gallery in Edinburgh this coming summer. Walters has had a fruitful year, as new and unapologetic seeds are being sown.

In a time of social media-enforced censorship, and a broader culture where sexuality is a far-removed topic from education and everyday life, Walters is keen to bring thought surrounding this bodily topic – and the freedoms it can unlock – into the conversation of contemporary art.

I notice her account on Instagram has been shadow banned. This occurs when content moderators of an online platform purposefully make one’s account difficult for others to find. Their strategy includes making one’s username difficult to find and directing visitors away from one’s social media pages unless they are actively seeking them out.

Frustratingly, this often impacts artists with radical work incorporating overt politics or references to sexuality. I found myself in this same problem working on an exhibition about queer nightlife at Ridley Road Project Space with photographer Roxy Lee earlier this year. Female sexuality is an algorithmically enforced taboo, it seems, which highlights the urgency of Walter’s practice.

‘I don’t want to apologise for anything anymore,’ she tells me on the phone. ‘I don’t want to waste any time.’ Abandoning watercolours because they are ‘too polite’, Walters is now working at a larger scale than ever – in luscious, glistening mediums including oil and ink. Alongside this independent work, Walters also organises group communal activities such as healing workshops, wellbeing courses and outdoor retreats.

‘The man who brings me salt in my waking dream: A painting or a series of drawings of a man bringing me salt to fill my holes, to keep my wounds open.’

— Extract from Dartmoor: a few days’ retreat in a cabin (2020) by Kate Walters

Piercing and penetration are key facets of her aesthetic language. Her portraits of human figures gape with multiple crevices which are dark and open. This style is both a reference to sexuality and our innate human ability to grow through pain – as our wounds heal and repair stronger. Describing one painting she notes ‘she is less afraid than before’ – fear lies in the unknown, but can be contained with repeating bouts of strength.

Walters’ recent series has been named Love Paintings. Rituals and repetition reverberate throughout them, often depicting individual and collective sexual play and intimacy. In these, she seeks to replicate the innate sexual force present within humans, referred to as ‘Mother Kundalini’ in Hindu culture.

‘Mother Kundalini is what Tantra is about, really,’ she elucidates. ‘Kundalini is the coiled snake sleeping at the base of the spine in most people. When it awakens and sends a surge of electrical charge up from the base to various centres in the body, you get this incredible spiritual enlightenment.’ Harnessing this power can be a healthy way to explore our own paths and desires that we don’t often think or converse about, she suggests.

Walters brings together learnings from psychoanalysis and her experiential research into native American shamanistic thinking: often told through phenomena like power animals and spirit guides, for instance. Throughout these, narratives can be understood to activate the subconscious, and the dreaming mind.

Transforming these dreams into physical visions art is a process crucial in her journey of self-understanding. ‘My paintings always teach me something,’ she says. While curator and writer Richard Davey once described her practice in 2017 as ‘a shamanic hollow bone, a conduit between physical and immaterial realms’. Walters records her night-time visions every day, rising at 4AM to record them – pointing out that this process often results in them becoming increasingly vivid over time, while also recalling them more accurately.

A recent series of paintings titled Night Drawings (2022) utilises cacao, watercolour sticks and plant ink on Japanese paper. Their rich and glistening mahogany colour parallels their intense subject matter of writhing and contorted bodies and spirits.

The use of cacao references the ritualistic ‘cacao ceremonies,’ still common in countries such as Mexico in South America, where chocolate in its purest form is consumed in unison by a community. The process – extending back to Aztec and Mayan civilizations – typically involves the complete opening up to strangers within a circle, creating a safe and balanced space where fears, hopes, dreams and suffering can be shared. ‘Cacao opens and soothes the heart; tears are her medicine’ Walters poetically points out their importance in processing negative energies and past traumas, and actively seeking healing.

Describing how shamanism is bonded with her paintings and physical reality, Walters noted how the ‘central guiding principles of Shamanism is that everything (in the world) is alive and is connected.’ She continues remarking that, ‘the best teaching comes through dreaming because in that state there is no possibility of the ego distorting or interfering with the images and their meaning. It is the high-energy ones which I take care to remember and reflect upon; this requires a level of discernment and patience in order to understand and learn from them’.

Her emphasis on patience also links with her interest in dance. She tells me that part of her shamanic work involves ‘Native American serpent dancing, a powerful, healing dance. It connects you with profound earth energies… I push myself hard and let go’.

Painting with both hands while listening to Sufi trance music, sometimes banging a traditional drum, Walters often moves in front of her easel, releasing an engulfing and immersive energy which ricochets across her canvas. With this in mind, her final paintings – provoking forms to emerge by inducing the subconscious – are better described as performative rather than pre-meditated.

One particular observation from our conversation stands out to me. Traditionally, the Shaman is known as the ‘wounded healer’ and ‘the context of healing is always the self together with the broader community.’ In ancient times, the ‘healer’ and the artist were always considered to be the same person.’ In other words, the artist should always consider themselves a healer, not only for themselves, but for each other…

Walters’s upcoming show, LOVE Paintings, will open at Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland on 23 June 2022. more here too!

Burst, Cultivate, Warrior, Peace, pocket universe

I’ve just returned from Devon, the beautiful School of Art & Wellbeing, teaching a workshop: Finding the inner warrior.
Three days to find, begin and nurture a relationship with our own inner sacred or spiritual warrior.
We worked with the shamanic journey, drawing and meditation to track the inner warrior: asking what does he or she look like? How can we enter fully into our own power as spiritual warriors – and connect with the relevant spirit guide? What barriers or blocks do we carry internally, making this more difficult?…and how can we overcome these? We made drawings and wrote to extend the insights of the shamanic journeys, bringing together these two most powerful, creative, ancient and unique paths.

Here are some notes made in preparation, and some photos…
What does the word warrior mean to you? Few moments reflection and notes then sharing after next questions:
Answer this in note and drawn form: What do I love most profoundly? What are my most profound gifts? What are my most profound responsibilities? What power is there in my answers, and what do I learn from my insights?
Intro to shamanic journeying.

Journey to find power animal and to ask how to step into our power. Even finding the power animal can be a way to approach one’s warrior self, as the power animal is about being or coming nearer to embodying one’s power and unique gifts as a human being. And it’s about connecting to nature, the natural world, in a new and more appreciative way. About coming into a place of awe and wonder and then love follows. And when we are in a place of love we are naturally much closer to our power and the source of all the best power – which charges us…

What stops you from stepping into your power? Thoughts, notes, discussion, journey. Techniques to release those things holding you back/down/silent/bound to what no longer serves you.
Journey to ask more info. Drawings about this. Fire? What would it look like to be in your power? How would you look? What would you wear? Journey to ask for a breastplate….colours, clothes, shield, hat, etc…spiritual armour – how does yours look?
Draw and paint from above – your armour, shield/s, animals, words etc

Sunshine meditation with water in glass. Chakras, intro to chakras and Mother Kundalini.Meditation for protection and journey into our chakras and the state of the energy within our bodies, where things are caught, trapped, or weakened.

Blessing ceremonies in pairs
working to music with colour, dance, vigour, closed eyes, non-dominant hand etc.
The next workshop will be in Cornwall (July 10th – 12th), and it will be focusing on peace and restoration; we will camp and be close to the earth and the weather, on a beautiful site on the Mary leyline. Details on my shamanic art and courses page.
BURST: Here is the link to the poster for the new show which I’m part of…

I was so thrilled to receive a copy of the new book of poems by Nancy Reddy which has one of my watercolours on its cover…the poems are majestic, tender, sublime and rooted: a delight, a revelation.

Creative shamanic courses for 2022 with Kate

“The Creative is Round, the Creative is Heaven”: Workshops for 2022 with Kate Walters

In Devon, at the beautiful School of Art and Wellbeing near Honiton.

photo by Sally Tripptree

All workshops in Devon begin on the first day at 11am and finish on the last day at 5pm.
In each workshop there will be a chance to have a 1:1 ‘hollow bone’ session with Kate.

All workshops are for women and men: painters, writers, thinkers, ecologists, poets, activists….
Full guidance to all shamanic techniques will be given.
All art materials will be provided, but please bring your own sketchbooks (I find people like to choose their own size and format). You can book accommodation through the School website. All the courses include a most sumptuous lunch and refreshments throughout the day.

April 21, 22 & 23rd The Sacred Path: Finding the inner warrior.
Three days to find, begin and nurture a relationship with our own inner sacred or spiritual warrior.
We’ll work with the shamanic journey, drawing and meditation to track the inner warrior: what does he or she look like? How can we enter fully into our own power as spiritual warriors – and connect with the relevant spirit guide? What barriers or blocks do we carry internally, making this more difficult?…and how can we overcome these? We’ll draw and write to extend the insights of the shamanic journeys, bringing together these two most powerful, creative, ancient and unique paths.

June 18th, 19th & 20th Dreaming: being carried in Vision.
Dreams and visions: how they can open up new worlds for us. Working with the shamanic journey to open up and expand upon this sacred way of perceiving other worlds (non-ordinary reality) and other – perhaps creaturely – ways of being in and perceiving the world.
We’ll tune into our dreaming world; animal voices, spirit voices, plant voices; we’ll ask them to help us expand our awareness of numinous worlds.
We’ll look at sacred texts and images and read them in a new way; we will respond creatively, perhaps making our own icons and passages of writing which reflect our sense of approaching the sublime. I will supply a range of images and texts which are considered iconic for you to work from, or you can create your own, perhaps inspired by automatic drawing in a shamanic journey. We’ll also celebrate the Summer Solstice!

August 8th – 11th. The Beauty Way.
Mystic paths (in nature and in our bodies): how are we carried by them, how they create maps in our being-ness… We’ll ask how we can come to know the Angel Out Ahead, which is unique to each of us. We’ll consider the work of Henry Corbin, James Hillman, Tom Cheetham, Joan Halifax, Helene Cixous, Clarisse Lispector and Jerome Rothenberg amongst others to think about where the creative can take us creatively with words or images. I will supply resource material. We’ll make shamanic journeys to open up these texts and our understanding in new ways; then we’ll respond with writing, drawing, story, painting, dreaming.

We’ll think about how we can become and remain a truthful instrument (this is inspired by a dream I had of becoming a musical instrument): leading to descriptive prose and or drawings, sculptures, paintings. Who would play you? What sounds would you make? We’ll think about refinement, the nature of our vibration and how we can purify and elevate it.

August 27, 28 & 29th Eros and Psyche, Persephone, Inanna.
Three days looking into myth, story and bodily knowing.
We’ll think about what it could mean to descend, to be tested. What we might find there, in our own cave or underground chamber. We’ll look at the myths of Persephone, Inanna, and possibly others such as Medusa. We’ll think about the imagery of natural cycles, and our own creative responses in drawing, painting and writing. We’ll work with shamanic journeying to help extend and ignite our imaginations and inner knowing.
We’ll think about the importance of Eros in our lives: The Sacred Lover – we’ll make shamanic journeys to aid us in drawing, writing, feeling our way into our sacred sexuality; and to understand further the gifts of sacred darkness and ineffable light (in the body/world/solar system/star).

October 27th, 28th & 29th Having Death as my Advisor
Three days working on shamanic teachings around living and creating with death as our advisor.
If we can live each day with death as our advisor we can live full and energised lives without fear. We can ensure there is no unfinished business in our lives – with any person or event; we can begin to release old patterns and attachments; we can learn to live fully in each moment.
This course will be an intense and ultimately joyful, clarifying time where we’ll be helped and guided by our spirit guides to work creatively to come to a place of understanding and ease around our feelings about the cycle of life and death.
There will be shamanic journeying, drawing, writing, painting, dreaming, listening, holding, releasing and blessing. £420

To book or for further information please email me here:

Marrying shamanism and creativity

Dates and details of next year’s courses:

Fruitful Arm

a recent poem and a painting from 2018; the dance between Eros and Psyche

A new poem in response to a recent workshop with me (and a dream I had of different stairs), by Kathy Wray:
Playground snake
marked at each step
one vertebra
a climbing backbone
where eyes can rest
and wonder free and wide
beyond senses
becoming of that time
only in that line
one form, formed

A place
a white page
where the stairs aren’t always down
they are sideways, behind you
lying down, pushed back
and pulled flat
no question to think
no forward place to move
where analysis is a waste
a wastage in a wanton age
lost in its own game, again
and again

When I’m stilled in this flow
flowing through its own stillness
tree rooted
a wooden staircase routes
itself down
wooded self in a line of time
ley line
without moving on
behind still
beyond the self
beyond remembered times.

The ancestry
600 years BC
is the cycle that drowned
went below its ground
we are on
swaying still
a fragility
feeling its wheel.

The sun is where we
call out towards
a light
that’s already inside
noticing its pull
letting go when full
in a formless vision
set free.

I love it when students and participants respond like this. There is another one below…

Dawn on Iona.

Carrying horse

After Horse Island Woman by Kate Walters

When the grey light of sun’s going settles,

I raise you up, gather your hooves in my hands.

Under the bulk of your belly, my skull is pressed,

when the grey light of sun’s going settles.

Starlight falls on red fur, pink petticoats,

as we summit, gasp angel breath. Here we stand,

when the grey light of sun’s going settles.

I raise you up, gather your hooves in my hands.

Nikki Kenna

In my workshops I like to bring together the most powerful and pregnant impulses. We tune into the highest power, and ask for guidance. We ask what we should give in exchange. We honour the sacred nature of the work. We see that Spirit wants us to play and to reflect divine beauty in our bodies and our creations. I love it when the drum sings.

Here is a picture of twin cloud spirits speaking to each other. I saw this just after we’d crossed into Scotland.

I’m just home from teaching workshops on Iona and in Devon. Dates for courses for 2022 (Devon) and 2022 and 2023 (Iona) are below. The Iona courses are almost fully booked already, and I will begin waiting lists.

Below is some feedback on both courses.

The first passage is by Sally Tripptree, Devon, October 25th – 28th, 2021.
– Reinforcing, searching continuously for the authentic place.
– The Sacredness of the work – connecting to your highest power.
– Never-ending journey – working with devotion, passion, intensity and genuine-ness.
– Respect for yourself – enables and supports authentic work.
– Gratitude for being with the feminine
– To live and be with grace, as the inner bodily pulses are ignited.
Kate’s wiseness, holding, being with, reaching in, containing, high level intensity and connectedness enables the unknown to become known, and with this knowing the artist is enabled to access their authentic self.
The results speak for themselves in the work that rises from the once blank space. Stuck-ness or a feeling of being lost becomes a distant lens and clarity emerges.

The second passage is by Maggy Walters (no relation!):
These last few days have been busy with the day-to-day but with the music of ‘Making Your Mark’ replaying gently behind the surface. This course really built upon all that came before with ‘Connecting With the Ancestors’ and I see very clearly how the personal and group connections can be strengthened and enriched through regular and repeated practice. For me, this newly discovered way of being, experiencing and exploring through the Shamanic Journey and alongside creative process seems to provide a perfect balance where moments of insight and clarity intermingle with the ungraspable, indefinable or ineffable.

I experienced the three days of ‘Making Your Mark’ as a kind of blind but trustful wandering, led kindly by the hand through deep waters, through clouds, shadows and reflections, into an unexpected, strangely but beautifully-lit place. Painting to music carried me from a pulsing, energetic, earthy rhythm within the body toward an increasing tenderness; a holding state for the soft feminine – vulnerable, quiet and beloved: a place of sanctity and devotion.
This was and is an inner space with echoes in the outer world, a place of deep peace, later followed by a sense of something descending, like a shower of tiny droplets or light particles with the quality of fine rain or snowflakes, that perhaps could be called ‘Grace’? This was a very profound experience that has repeated briefly a couple of times since. I have yet to define it and probably should not even attempt to do so!
What I found was that from the groundwork of the previous course, a pathway became visible and a few more faltering steps have been taken, steadied by the holding of Kate and the group, who have established a real sense of trust, of commitment and of adventure.

The third passage of feedback is by Emily Player:
Many thanks once again for another wonderful experience. I really struggle to articulate how amazing the process of journeying has been. The feeling I have is like being reunited with a favourite childhood toy I forgot I had lost. It has been transformative, and while there have been many profound visions and moments, there has also been a lot of joy. I never expected that I could find laughter and playfulness as well as insights into deeper aspects of myself, others, the earth and universe. Everything feels connected, and elemental. I am not sure I even understand fully, but what I have seen, felt and experienced has been so beautiful and precious, I have felt so safe and comfortable to explore what has always has been there but perhaps ignored and not listened to before (by me) – it is extraordinary to be shown how to access it. Thank you for being our guide, sharing so generously.

You talked about the safety, and this being a safe practice. It truly has always felt safe and comforting, free from any judgement – I had a sense of absolute faith and goodness emanating from you, we may have all experienced some vulnerable feelings but I never felt vulnerable while exploring them. I hope that makes sense. I look back at the course in August and I know I sobbed, cried, and felt so raw – at times I could not put into words what I had learned, but I had a deep sense of knowing. It gave me an absolute trust in myself that I have rarely felt. To meet my power animal, to be with them, be guided, it makes my heart sing. The animals, spirits and beings I have encountered, as well as places, visions, colours and senses; I am totally in awe and humbled by the ability. I wish I could communicate better what ‘it’ is, but the language I have doesn’t seem right somehow. It feels sacred too, exactly as you said, sometimes I can’t articulate it but I am fully aware of what I have and carry with me.

I thought I was learning a technique to assist my creativity. It has done that and nothing short of changed my life too. My life is exactly as it was before, but I understand it better, I experience it differently. I can access clarity if I choose to, even if my questions are answered with questions. I know there is a seen and unseen in everything and it is up to me to try and learn about both. It does feel like a rich resource, and one that lends itself to my art, my flow and my creativity – also my relationships, my family. It helped me understand what I wanted, and as drawing and making are a large part of that, the two things went hand in hand.


The following feedback is from Bridget McKenzie, who attended my recent course on Iona.
“I don’t think I’ve ever found a creative course or retreat so helpful, deep and stimulating as this. It was a perfect balance of being caringly held with structured activity and being set free to explore inner and outer landscapes. I was amazed by the power of the drum to bring mythopoetic imagery so quickly and vividly to mind, and the prompts you gave for our questioning were profound and clear, and they built up progressively over the days of journeying. I particularly appreciated walking as a serpent, painting to music, and browsing books, as well as the Hollow Bone session.”

One day we followed directions to a secluded beach of rounded stones, to search for the carcass of a whale, washed up a few months ago. It was a humbling experience to be near the body of the whale. A few days previously I had asked about the spirit of the island, Iona, and I’d been shown the eardrum of a whale. I’d thought it was to do with sound, with the creamy delicacy of interiority, of being carried: I didn’t realise it might be so literal. I brought home one of the rib bones. I’d been thinking about wands in my own work and in my teaching. It felt like a wand which had been waiting for me on the beach: clean, adrift, garnished with weed. I stood near the smashed body with her pale upturned hands carrying armfuls of burnt orange; slabs of blubber palest pink and tacked with dark stars mesmerized me. I made studies from memory in my notebooks. I used oil bars. It had to be fat. I raided the kitchen for greaseproof paper to protect the other pages: the oil, the fat, the smell of bones and flies and sea.
and my heart was opened…

Men are Afraid

Recently I asked a psychoanalytic colleague why men might be afraid of my new work. What he wrote is below, followed by some of my thoughts and reflections.
By a happy coincidence, I was already working with the image of Medusa and her Tongue, thinking about language, mother animals and the way they wash their newborn young, sexual acts of great intimacy and love, and the expression of our greatest needs – for love, for adoration.

“In response to your question of why some men are afraid of your new work I think about Medusa. According to the Greek poet Hesiod, (750-650 BCE) Medusa was Gaia’s granddaughter. Hesiod tells that Gaia as the original personification of Earth gave birth to a son, Pontus, as the original personification of the Sea, and that from the union of Gaia and Pontus Medusa’s parents, Phorkys (Homer’s ‘Old Man of the Sea’) and Keto (whose name is related to ‘whale’ and ‘monster’), were born. Medusa was one of triplet daughters known as the ‘Gorgons’, and her parents, once rulers over the deep, were subsequently vanquished by the Olympian God Poseidon.
Medusa, despite her immortal parentage was mortal and as ‘a young woman of great beauty’ (Leeming, 2013, p.12) she was, according to Ovid, raped by Poseidon in the temple of Athene. Athene was outraged both by the violation of her temple and by Medusa’s beauty which was a direct challenge to her own, and seems to have blamed the desecration of her sacred temple on the beauty that is blamed for causing the rape. To punish her Athene turned Medusa into a monstrous figure of horror, with snakes for hair, a protruding tongue, staring eyes and tusks.
This aspect of the Greek myth illustrates the power of elemental beauty to arouse the uncontained impetuous sexual action of a male God of the patriarchal Olympian pantheon. It also describes the punishing reaction to that power by the rational female God of the patriarchal pantheon: the powerful beauty which is not authorised becomes petrifying to all who encounter it.
The invocation of involuntary powerful arousal is experienced as petrifying because it bypasses and so appears to incapacitate conscious agency. The patriarchal response to this appears to be to try to re-impose control firstly through rape and secondly by locating the cause for the rape in the victim not the perpetrator. This is a pattern repeated through patriarchal structures.
In Medusa in the Mirror of Time David Leeming quotes St Augustine’s response to the arousing effect of women:
‘St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (354-430), author of Confessions and City of God, said: “Women should not be enlightened or educated in any way. They should, in fact, be segregated as they are the cause of hideous and involuntary erections in holy men” and “whether it is in a wife of a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman”.’ (Leeming, 2013 p.32)
Maybe patriarchal cultures fear the involuntary arousal men experience in the face of erotically alive women? Maybe erotic scenes that do not remain within the parameters prescribed by patriarchal discourse are experienced as disturbing because the arousal they cause is involuntary and so escapes from the orbit of patriarchal control? Perhaps this is partly why some men are afraid of your recent work.
In “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” Audre Lorde describes how women are taught to deny a relation to their erotic selves as part of a strategy to domesticate and control life forces that would otherwise disrupt patriarchal order.
‘In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change. For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power’;
‘The erotic has been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticised sensation’;
‘pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasises sensation without feeling’;
‘the erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings’; (Your Silence will not Protect You, Lorde 2017, pp.22,23)
The ancient Greeks conceptualised the arousal of a loving sensual sexual response to things and events through personification in the figure of Eros. They described Eros, this arousal of a loving response that includes the sensual sexual relation, in Audre Lorde’s words, as being ‘born of Chaos, and personifying creative power and harmony’ (Lorde 2017, p.25). This would seem to be a powerful force that is not in the control or at the mercy of the patriarchal subject and which pushes up out of chaotic undifferentiated feeling insistent on seeking a form. For St. Augustine the only form this can take is an ‘involuntary erection’ and, perhaps, the incapacitating of his ability to think appropriate thoughts in an appropriately ordered manner.
Audre Lorde elaborates how a woman in touch with her own erotic power and energy is experienced as dangerous to the nature of patriarchal culture and particularly its men.
When I look at your recent work its erotic power is evident. While noticing this power I also wonder where it originates. It is not in my control but my curiosity is not incapacitated. To an extent the paintings present a conventional scene in that heterosexual couples meet the authorised parameters of post-romanticism, and they rehearse the scene of the man sensually and sexually aroused by the woman. This references the theme of the powerful and attractive woman drawing the man into an enchantment, which is simultaneously a defence against and an elaboration of the patriarchal fear of being taken over by one’s own arousal and a consequent loss of control. So this may also add to why some men are afraid of this work. Yet that would be true of erotic work in general and not specific to this work.
If there is something specific to this work that causes some men to be afraid it may lie somewhere else as well.
It seems to me that the source of the erotic power in the work doesn’t lie particularly in any one of the figures individually, nor in the overt sexuality of the images. When I experience myself looking at the paintings the erotic charge seems to come viscerally from the paint itself, as a communication direct from the activity of paint taking this form. The experience, if you open to it, is one by which the effect of the act of painting is re-evoked for the viewer in the act of looking, and this effect is perhaps precisely the connection to the erotic.
Whereas a classical nude scene might be erotic and arousing by virtue of its sexual aspect, it is unlikely to be disturbing in the same way as these are because what in the former is found to be erotic has already been objectified in the specific places marked out for it by patriarchal discourse. When the erotic is found in these specific places it has already been ‘relegated to the bedroom alone’ (Lorde 2017, p26) and so placed under the control of the man where its power is yoked to the requirements of patriarchal order. The centre of power and agency is located in the man. This means his erection is neither involuntary nor hideous but expected and required.

However, if your erotic energy, and with it your desire, is aroused without your intention your understanding or your will, something Other is at work in you. And that something Other is working in concert with something Other in the world and it is refusing to be bound. I suggest something Other is also at work in these paintings. There are unclear locations for the urgency of the desire and arousal: in the man reaching towards the woman; in the woman drawing him towards her; in the woman giving birth to the man who then finds her arousing; in the woman being alive with new life brought forth by the man; by their interpenetration and mutual receptivity; in the woman charming and demanding a willing surrender to an arousing revelation that is experienced and expressed in the work. An untold story is being unfolded in this work; an Other story.
I am reminded of Medusa’s back story: Gaia parthenogenetically gives birth to Pontus, their union gives birth to Phorkys and Keto whose union gives birth to Medusa. To fit the myth where having been raped by Poseidon and turned into a monster by Athene she is beheaded by Perseus, Medusa is denied immortality: it must be possible to kill her. But the story ensures that she lives on. Where does Medusa go? It is as if something of her escapes after having been raped by Poseidon and then beheaded, enslaved and colonised by Perseus and is seeking other paths into being. Perhaps that which is disturbing to the viewer in these paintings is connected to the process of enquiry they insist on and if you allow yourself to respond to that insistent call it invokes in you a visceral experience that articulates the path and effect of the erotic which is opened up by an Other Medusa.
When following any of these lines of enquiry one is invited into rough water where one’s reference points of acceptability become destabilised.
Perhaps the most disturbing and liberating effect of the erotic in the paintings is located in their insistence on directing your attention to the process of painting and of looking as an erotic engagement. To be the one through whom this creative power is channelled is clearly a huge turn on. To be the one who is properly allowing themselves to be brought into relation with the paintings threatens to also be a huge turn on. The process of looking involves you in a relationship with the process of creating whether you like it or not: something is created in the space between you and the painting which cannot be restricted to the detached fantasy of two lovers meeting in an embrace that is authorised, sanctioned and so neutered by patriarchal approval.
Perhaps it is this above all that causes those men to be afraid of your new work.”


I think another reason for fear and uneasiness around this new work might be to do with the fear of the loss of sight of what is considered to be rational. In his book on Ithell Colquhoun Richard Shillitoe has written: “Mysterious, liberating and transforming, sexual attraction and arousal are the antithesis of the rational.” (p. 101) He also expresses his thought that the thing men are most afraid of is the vagina…

From my shamanic work I know that the spirits want to experience this fleshly life through us embodied mortals. This includes sexuality and human love, and maybe this is another prohibited area for patriarchy?
It’s possible that paint, and the act of painting from a heart cracked open, enables them to come through…

When I was on the Isle of Iona recently, I thought a lot about magic wands. I even found one: the elegant, refined, gently bending rib of a whale (yes, I brought it home).

Here is a poem about a magic wand, by Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff.

Sleeps a song in things abounding
that keeps dreaming to be heard:
Earth’es tunes will start resounding
If you find the magic wand.

In tiny drawings made on Iona and back at home, the man’s tongue is washing the woman’s heart, penetrating the heart space. I ask, “Is his tongue a magic wand?”


I often make drawings of paintings when I know they’re incomplete, but are at an interesting or important stage; it’s a little like taking a snapshot of the stages in a relationship. In my paintings I often obliterate interesting passages too, and it’s a way of keeping a record of their evolution. Sometimes the signposts indicate areas I need to explore rather than just the final iteration of a painting. Like tracks through an Italian forest…. I might find (the sustaining, equivalent aspects of, for example) a grove of flowering Daphne bushes, or wild boar hoglets playing and squeaking in the undergrowth. There might be an icon as a waymarker, or a ridge above thousands of trees; or a monk tending beehives painted yellow and blue.

Here are some pictures of works in their stages. I think these stages show that the work itself is alive and working towards its own resolution – not just mine.