09 June 2010

Back to blogging

Yes, after more than a year of silence, it is time to write again, though not in quite the old style – seems there is just not enough of the journalist left in me to carry on churning out idiosyncratic opinions or reflections on this that and the other. So whatever form this blog may take from now on, the communications will probably be shorter and simpler, but perhaps more frequent than before.

The main reason for reactivating the blog is to draw attention to the more recent mandalas on display in the ‘Newer visions’ gallery on the website. Please do take a look – the works include the two most elaborate designs yet created.

Living currents took about 135 hours from the drawing of the underlying grid right through all the drawing and painting to the final adjustments on the computer and the finishing touch of the Photoshop gradient. It’s one of only two mandalas where I referred to any kind of visual resource while I was doing the drawing; I couldn’t remember exactly what an octopus – or indeed certain other sea creatures – looked like, so I briefly studied a few images of them. Even so, in the end, I made most of them up, more or less. In the same way, I checked roughly how the anatomy of birds works by looking at photos of them when I was drawing Birds who have flown some years ago.

Actually, there is a third mandala which forced me to refer to a few of my photos, now I come to think of it. Fortress of faith, the other extremely intricate new design, is very loosely related to the complex multi-gated entrance to Jaisalmer fort, with a few sidelong glances from time to time at other shots of fanciful architecture in Rajasthan or elsewhere. Sadly, this mandala cannot really be appreciated at all at the scale at which it can be reproduced on this website. For the first time, it is a design so detailed, so fiddly, that I realised I would almost certainly ruin it if I attempted to add colour, so I have left the original piece in the form of a pen and ink drawing – thus far, about 124 hours work. At some stage, though, I would like to experiment with creating a coloured version, using the scanned image and working in Photoshop

I don’t remember referring to pictures of butterflies when I drew the ones in All one energy – so they may or may not satisfy the scientifically minded. I rather wish I could find similar specimens in nature – the biggest butterflies here in Pune are very large, but not purple; they are black, red and white, and flop about like large flying silk hankies, though I don’t often see one. This mandala was another fairly detailed piece of work, but took much less time than the other two at about 60 hours, divided fairly equally between the drawing and the painting. Any adjustments in Photoshop and the creation of the gradient backdrop are not included in this tally.

Regrettably, the small scale at which they appear in the website can give only a vague flavour of all three of these larger designs. Printed at three foot by three foot, Living currents has an impact that cannot possibly be conveyed by the small reproduction shown here. This particular piece, and also the earlier Drunkenly along the Sufi path of love, have now been scanned at such high resolution that they could be printed up to six metres across before starting to lose definition (both the original painted mandalas are about 40cm in diameter). How nice it would be to see them reproduced at even half this size…

The remaining two mandalas in the new gallery are small pieces, both of them begun as demonstrations in informal mandala workshops, and completed in three or four afternoons each.

The other reason for starting to use the blog again is the increasingly pressing need to help the mandalas go out into the world, to make their presence known to a wider audience.

Perhaps anyone who reads these words and has any ideas or suggestions as to shops, therapy clinics, centres hosting meditation, yoga, etc, hotels and spas, interior design companies and any other places where the mandalas might be well received, could send relevant info and contact details to me at shashi@mandalascapes.com. I would be extremely grateful for any such input, or indeed any other innovative marketing ideas. I am also interested in any openings or inspirational connections for reproducing the mandalas on, for example, plates, or t-shirts or silk squares, or mouse mats or table mats or ceramic tiles, or… there are so many things that could be done with the designs that it is hard to know where or how to begin, so a few concrete contacts would be very useful.

There is already a project underway to create a mandala divination deck. I have completed the design part of this, but still need to adapt a number of the texts that accompany the mandalas to make them better suited to this purpose.

Finally, this is to announce that there will be a selling exhibition of the mandalas in Amsterdam from Monday 18 October through to Monday 29 November 2010. High-quality giclée prints will be on display at Himalaya, the well-known esoteric/New Age bookshop and café/gallery on busy Warmoesstraat, in the heart of Amsterdam’s tourist district, a few minutes’ walk from the main railway station.