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Image – Japanese prayers tied outside a Zen Buddhist Temple in Kamakura, Japan.

Opportunities to strengthen the connection between spiritual practice and art practice are (for the most part) always appreciated but I have to say that the ‘gift of difficult circumstances’ is never the less a tricky pill for me to swallow.

Over the last 18 months birth, death, grief and serious personal injury have forced me to stay home and face my vulnerability, existential aloneness and mortality in new and profound ways.

Whilst these situations help us see the bigger picture they can also feel as if they are never ending and at times we can feel overwhelmed. I certainly did.

My recent spinal injuries and prolonged periods of being alone, and on heavy duty pain killers left me wondering whether ‘this is it’. There were times that I feared there’d be no way out of this, and that it would be down hill from here.

More than ever before, this period of time was, for me, a time to focus on the present moment and to find gratitude for even the smallest of achievements. These tiny treasures to be grateful for included such things as getting out of bed, and being able to stand up. Later they progressed into doing small tasks such as making a cup of tea.

At first, in the midst of this storm, I found myself swinging between extremes. On the one hand I’d be grasping, trying to hold on, and therefore suffering. On the other hand I’d be finding it in me to surrender to my powerlessness and as a result of that I’d find a place in me of peace.

Over time the pendulum of extremes calmed down. Eventually, more and more, I found a place where I could hold both poles more comfortably and steadily. Discovering this place was obviously where the gift was for me. I recognised it as a place of learning.

And then after seven months of excruciating emotional and physical pain, oscillating between sitting in a place of spirit and then of form, and back again, and most of the time being house bound, …..as if by some force of magic, I found I was able to travel to Japan and then join my local Buddhist Sangha (community) for a poetry writing retreat!

 

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Image – Hydrangeas, Rivendell Retreat Centre, East Sussex, UK

 

In Japan we (the Walrus Leadership Tribe) were immersed in the Japanese culture.  This had been gifted to us through the generosity of Kikuo and Jonathan (two of our tribe members) who had planned an incredibly rich and interpersonal experience with local people and the environment in and around Kamakura. (South of Tokyo)

The schedule was full. I won’t mention all the details here but some of the highlights for me were the opportunity to live with Zen Buddhist Monks in a temple, making veggie Sushi with secondary school boys and their teachers, presenting projects and ideas to the Kamacom business community and hearing a monk’s view on a massive inter faith prayer gathering when disaster hit the town a few years ago. We also learnt some ancient Japanese dance movements and saw Mount Fuji. There were so so many experiences…..

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Image – Japanese prayers tied outside a Zen Buddhist Temple in Kamakura, Japan.

 

The experiences that inspired me the most were about a sense of community and ‘coming together’. I found that the people were always patient, kind, respectful and appreciative regardless of cramped conditions and everyday pressures. This was in stark  contrast to our Western ways. Their attitude is incredibly calm, careful and considerate. Regardless of the external environments people always have time and are grateful.

 

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Image – A flower garden in the centre of a shopping area in Tokyo, Japan.

I might have suffered a nasty culture shock on my return to the UK had it not been for the fact that the very week I landed, I went, straight away, with my jet lag, to a retreat with my local Buddhist Sangha. It was curiously interesting timing, since the retreat was all about integrating spiritual practice with creative practice and the vehicle for this was Japanese poetry!

Firstly we learnt how to write individual Haiku. Then we created a collective Renga.

Renga is about a collective engagement with the creative process. It is not about an outcome. For us it was also about creating within a Buddhist context.

Sharing the outcome with you here seems in some ways to be sliding off the point a bit but I want to give you a flavour of Japan and hope that the photos here, along with the poem below, might sum up this month and these past months quite nicely.

As Renga is a joint creation and we all collectively participated in it’s creation it’s everyones and no ones.

Whether we are in a Renga or making work in a solitary studio I believe all creativity is not an individuals works but in someway an outpouring from a greater collective source.

Sometimes this might be from a inter-personal level, sometimes from a transpersonal level and I believe that it is our responsibility as artists to be alert to this and make appropriate choices.

Either way, I simply love the philosophy and message of the Renga.

 

 

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Image – Japanese prayers tied outside a Zen Buddhist Temple in Kamakura, Japan.

 

The Renga…….

 

the skin of a snake

 

we walk in silence down the holloway –

open to the sky

 

blood in my veins,

a sunlit shuffle

how do I do this?

 

swimming upwards I count

the bubbles

 

clouds in stripes

jumbo jet flies to Bali

 

my thoughts
lost to ice –
crystals on the floor

 

squirrel hides in tree hole

frenzied shopping mall

 

the white bunker of dreams –

where is the doorway

now?

 

shadows of people

I used to know

 

turn on the light step

step

over our clothes

 

your worn shoes so sturdy

still I keep them

 

along sheep’s head ridge

who

is leading?

 

on the windowsill

the skin of a snake

 

she is on the turn –

burnished, blazing,

grumpy

 

dragon’s dance, lanterns lit

moon cake anyone?

 

swinging at the top of the wheel

see our old house

by the bend in the river

 

between infinite paths of wonder, holding to broken branches,

they whisper love songs

 

exposed bare root

suspended

under the crust

 

droplets on leaf

shining

 

a drowsy bee

does what it can

with the flowers on the Afghan rug

 

mixing the right tone of yellow

for the buttercup

 

 

a nijuuin renga | Rivendell, East Sussex | May, 2017

participants: Subhadassi (Master) Jen Rouse, Lauren Davis, Tejasiddhi, Vimalabandhu, Laura Power, Kavyashri, Valentina Cartei, Eliza Payne, NgYinWan, Lorraine Moore, Esther Cann, Bruno Basilio, Veronique Maria, Penny Lloyd

R8 Walrus | Tokyo and Kamakura Japan | May, 2017

participants: Jorgen, Sue, Veronique, Kikuo, Jonathan, David, Tjessica, Hanne, Reimar, Ben

 

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 ‘WAKING UP’

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A SPRINGTIME RETREAT DAY

(please note this is NOT an ‘art’ workshop)

Saturday – 11th MARCH 2017

Arundel, West Sussex

A gentle day for reflection, to deepen your relationship with your creative self.
…..an intimate, one day retreat.

No previous experience is necessary.

In the safe, supportive environment of my home in Arundel, West Sussex, this retreat day is designed to help you begin to ‘wake up’ to your self, and to the year, the day and the moment, so that you can more fully re-member your self and your open to your creativity.

With ‘spring‘ in mind, and using a variety of visualisations, meditations, experiential exercises along with some group dialogue, you will be encouraged to slow down, listen deeply to yourself and the world you inhabit, and take time to explore all that is emerging – your dreams, aspirations and the potential of all new beginnings.

You will leave the workshop feeling more centred, refreshed and connected to the fullness of your self and your creative potential.
Easy Free Parking.
Accessibility (please ask)
Teas and coffees provided.
Please bring:
1.) your essential drawing and writing materials for note taking
2.) some vegetarian/vegan food to share at lunchtime.
Together we will create a collective feast and a delicious day.  😉

These courses will help you:

take time to be with yourself

understand yourself more deeply

feel more connected

listen more carefully to your inner voice

trust and respond to your intuition  

feel more secure and confident in yourself and your creativity 

manage transitions and changes with greater ease

develop a deeper understanding of your truest nature 

GETTING HERE – Arundel, West Sussex.

DRIVING: we are close to the A27 and the A259

TRAINS run directly from London Victoria to Arundel Station. (approx 80 mins) and along the south coast line from Portsmouth and/or Brighton to Ford Station. Taxis are available from Arundel Station. For taxis from Ford please book ahead with the Arundel taxi company.

BOOKING and ENQUIRIES

email veroniquemaria@icloud.com
Groups are small – places on these courses are limited.
Please book early to avoid disappointment.
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Courses VERONIQUE MARIA will teach at West Dean College in 2017 and 2018. 

THE AUTHENTIC CREATIVE SELF – FINDING YOUR POWER

23 – 28 April 2017 at West Dean College

23rd – 28th September 2018 at West Dean College

A course for writers, visual artists, performers and makers, refine your creative focus and direction as you delve into the depths of your inner landscape. Learn how to establish a relationship with your core self through new pathways. From this new connection create authentic and powerful pieces. You will explore your own inner dialogue and then communicate this potent and authentic voice through creative expressions.

https://www.westdean.org.uk/study/short-courses/courses/5d6930-the-authentic-creative-self-finding-your-power

Line open from 9am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm
Bookings and enquiries @ West Dean:

bookingsoffice@westdean.org.uk +44 (0) 1243 818300

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THE AUTHENTIC CREATIVE SELF – FINDING YOUR VOICE

15 – 17 September 2017 at West Dean College

27th – 29th April 2018 at West Dean College

Explore the breadth of your creativity and uncover your passion and purpose. Work with image, text and form guided by your senses through visualisation, meditation and process.

https://www.westdean.org.uk/study/short-courses/courses/we7236-the-authentic-creative-self-finding-your-voice

Line open from 9am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm
Bookings and enquiries @ West Dean:

bookingsoffice@westdean.org.uk +44 (0) 1243 818300

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INTRODUCTION TO – DRAWING WITH THE SENSES  

8th November 2017 at West Dean College

20th September 2018 at West Dean College

Taster day – Beginners

Discover the joy of drawing with your senses to capture the essence of your subject. Experience and explore mark making techniques with different mediums.

 

DRAWING WITH THE SENSES  

9th – 11th February 2018 at West Dean College

Weekend (Fri evening to Sunday afternoon)

Suitable for all

Discover how to both experience and draw your object with greater sensitivity using touch, smell and sound. Explore dynamic mark making techniques with different mediums to describe the essence of your subject.

 

Line open from 9am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm
Bookings and enquiries @ West Dean:

bookingsoffice@westdean.org.uk +44 (0) 1243 818300

 

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Would you like to
 take time for reflection
deepen your relationship with your creativity 

and
COME HOME TO YOURSELF
?

 

One day retreat-workshops
Arundel, West Sussex. UK

SUMMER SATURDAYS
2016

25th June
30th July
20th August
24th September

These day long retreat-workshops are designed to help you slow down, relax, deepen your connection to your most essential self, and begin to re-member the wonder of your creative potential.

We are all creative beings

these workshops are suitable for all adults over 18 years.

In a comfortable home environment we will create a safe and supportive space for you to open up and re-member the uniqueness of YOU.
Working with the senses, dreams, and imagination, and using simple meditation and visualisation techniques you will be led though a series of gentle exercises designed to begin to uncover, reveal and strengthen your confidence in, your intuition and your creative self. 

BOOKING

For more info and books please email veroniquemaria@icloud.com

Places are limited – group numbers are kept small.

Please book early to avoid disappointment. 

About the workshop leader:

Veronique Maria is passionate about creativity and enabling authentic self expression.

Veronique has worked in the arts since 1970’s. She makes her own art work (painting, performance, video, writing) and sees clients 1-2-1 for creativity coaching and artists mentoring.

She is currently researching the value of art to individuals and societies, exploring the processes of creating and perceiving art as being devotional practices which, with commitment, offer potentiality of becoming spiritual praxes.

She exhibits and sells internationally, and has work in publications and collections worldwide.

She has a BA (hons) in Art and Design, an MA in Psychosynthesis Psychology, a professional training in psychotherapy,  and is a Leadership Graduate with CTI – The Coaches Training Institute (USA).

Veronique is passionate about the importance of authentic self expression and believes creative integrity  transforms health for individuals and societies.

Her dream is to create a residential retreat centre where everyone (artists and non artists alike) can go for ‘gently intensive hot house’ mentoring to explore their inner artist, and their truest most unbridled self expression in the context of being in service to others.
For further information about all areas of Veronique’s work – http://www.veroniquemaria.co.uk

For workshop bookings and coaching/mentoring enquiries –  email: veroniquemaria@icloud.com

‘Orogeny’ (An artists profile video about Veronique Maria by Mark Birbeck/Last Bus) and ‘I Cannot Help How My Heart Feels’ (A video by Veronique Maria) will be screened at The Basement, Brighton as part of the Digital Festival on 28th September 2014.

TRANSMUTE, curated by CHROMA, and Stillpoint, gathers artists, dancers and critical thinkers working with digital technology to explore the visceral and the sensory.  What is communication in 2014? Digital technology is used to transmute data into new forms: how do we feel and understand this information? How can we evolve the way we use digital tools to interface with and be informed by our bodies and the wider ecosystem? How are artists, activists and educators using the digital to create, communicate, share knowledge and organise action?
The event borrows its creative theme and structure from the alchemical process of radical transformation. The night brings together people from various disciplines interested in imagining radical change in 2014. The night features talks on the environment, economics, activism, as well as experimental performances, installations and life drawing.

CHROMA director and artist Kate Genevieve (also PHD researcher at Sussex University) says ‘We’re inviting you to come and share your creative work, perspectives and ideas in the hope that gathering people together can catalyse imaginative shifts and strange transmutations.’

Transmute aims to be showing work which investigates the dialogue between the visceral and digital, explores sensory environments, emotion and affective realms, or raises questions around what communication is and how it can evolve.

Exhibition – MOVING PRACTICE, MOVING IMAGE  24th May – 21st June 2014

Veronique Maria 

Artist Talk & Workshop Saturday 14th June

Artist talk: 11am-12pm

Workshop: 1pm – 5pm

 

veroniqueThis exhibition from Veronique Maria marks the end of an 18 month research and development project: Moving Practice, Moving Image.  Between 2012-2014 Maria reviewed her entire art practice to date, in great detail and she particularly explored the way in which ritual, performance and film have played important roles throughout her career.

The exhibition will illustrate the artist’s journey from form to film, look back over the work she created between 1973-2013, and explore how performance and ritual has impacted on her work and life.

Examples of drawing, ceramics, and wood turning, earth work, installation, and fibre work, sculpture, performance, and painting will all sit beside her most recent work with the moving image.

Artist Talk & Workshop

Saturday 14th June

Artist talk: 11am-12pm

Workshop: 1pm – 5pm

Who’s it for:

Adults of all ages. No experience necessary. (Artists and non artists welcome)

Workshop – £10

Booking for workshop essential as places are limited.

Email: rspace@linenroomslisburn.com to book your place

By listening to our body, trusting our intuition, and accepting that we are a part of a greater whole beyond the individual self, and that we are held by these things, we can learn to surrender to the unknown and take greater risks in our lives. This workshop invites you to stretch beyond your comfort zone and live a little more dangerously in order to deepen your relationship with your self and the world you inhabit.

NB. Workshop content may include a short walk. If this is likely to be difficult for you please speak to the gallery before booking your place.

 

 

Philip Carr-Gomm writes about Veronique Maria on his blog:

http://philipcarrgomm.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/body-and-soul/#respond

Veronique Maria will join Anna Cosentine, Executive Director of the Taos Shortz Film Festival on Sante Fe Radio this friday 14th March to discuss the highlights of the festival.

You can listen to KSFR’s Cinema Scope on Friday from 6:30 to 7:00 PM (local time) and get more festival information at www.taosshortz.com

Orogeny will be screened at the Taos Film Festival in Taos, New Mexico USA as part of their ArtScapes Program, on Sunday 23rd March 2014. There will be Q and A on stage after the screening.

The video ‘Orogeny’ has been selected by Taos Film Festival, New Mexico, USA to be screened in March 2014.

Out of over 900 entries, the video, which is about Veronique’s art work and ideas, filmed and directed by Mark Birbeck and edited by James Scott, was selected by the commitee to be one of the 100 films to be screened at the International Video Shorts event.