Debriefing about being part of The Sacred Journey at YOUtopia will be written about in three parts, because there is a lot to write about!
Part 1 – Temple Building Synergies
Part 2 – Rituals and Ceremonies
Part 3 – Plans for the Future
Part 1 – Temple Building Synergies
From the moment I arrived in San Diego and integrated with the crew I felt loved, recognised and respected for the work I do in creating sacred spaces. The Journey crew were so welcoming and hard working. I’m so proud to count them all as friends. What an amazing crew to have landed into!
When we arrived onsite we (my assistant/aka husband /aka chief bag carrier/ aka Captain Jayman and I) jumped straight into setting up The Sacred Journey. For two more days, the team worked at creating the structure, sound and lighting components, while I did final fabric prep and then! I could hang my work upon theirs. MELD TIME.
It was a nerve-wracking time, given I had not touched the structure while I was in make-mode. Since I’ve not yet learned how to do digital modelling, I only had my imagination to envision how my work would blend with The Journey. The curvature of the structure meant that either side of the tunnel required different tactics, and as I suspected, some of my work did not fit the structure well. BUT most of it did! And it looked great.
Dan (Lead Designer) managed to match the lighting design with descriptions of my concepts for each of the five sections within the Sacred Journey tunnel. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief when the lights were turned on for the first time, and everything looked good.
There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a collaborated artwork come together so well.
Best of all, the feelings that the artwork evoked in people were the exact feelings we were aiming for. This for me, is the real success. A piece of artwork can be as pretty or as well-made as you like, but if it doesn’t move the viewer into a state of reflection then it will just be pretty and well-made. A Temple has got to do more, and what is fascinating is how that shift can be made, from the ordinary to the sacred, by adding intention and a few physical materials that point people into the realm of connecting to something deeper.
The Sacred Journey had to have some last minute adjustments made, and we reduced the sections from 6 to 5.
The sections were divided as follows:
Node 1: Welcome area and Ten Principles. Gateway 1 - Soft curtain.
Node 2: The Universe - constellations made with doilies. Gateway 2 - A giant vagina.
Node 3: The Earth - A tree, dragonflies, bees, butterfly, river. Gateway 3 - The Charka Reflection.
Node 4: The Shadow - six paintings of different aspects of the human experience. Gateway 4 - Your own shadow.
Node 5: The Torus - White woven walls of energy and portal. Gateway 5 - The Torus Reflection.
People who visited the Temple and came inside the central area were invited to write on a piece of fabric, their hopes, prayers, and letting go things, and then tie the material to the Obelisk or the roof structure. It was overwhelming, packing it all away and seeing how many ties had been attached to the material. Well over 1000 for sure. Tear jerking moment. These ties, and the Obelisk will be taken to Burning Man 2018 and burned.
I came home feeling so blessed and inspired about all the gifts that the YOUtopia experience gave me and I'm over flowing with ideas of gifts back. And I'll write more about those in Part 2 and 3.
Lots of Love
(All the fabric artwork in the images below has been made and designed by me. I had help with the white sheets by my four step/children, Sophia, Ella, Maddie and Levi; the insects by Camille; and the shadow section by Rachelle, who also chose the shadow images. Didn't she do a great job!)
One of the aspects of my work is to upscale and bring to life again crafts of our grandmothers. This rope is being made by finger-knitting, and I'm going to be turning 7 super-king sheets into 70m of stretchy rope. This will then create a spiral roof on the temple I am helping build for YOUtopia in San Diego.
The bigger idea was to do a giant crochet/tatting pattern, but my dyslexia stops me from being able to do the counting that is necessary. Plus the roof is not going to be a flat circle, but an awkward shape that slopes. Tatting patterns demand uniformity, so I thought it safer just to create a rope and make up a pattern when we put it up. Making things at distance is tricky! I haven't touched the infrastructure I'm hanging this art off, and won't until it's time to install, so I'm making things loose so they can fit.
Now you may wonder why I would go to all the effort to make something like this. Why spend hours making something I could buy that was pretty and less effort? Well, the answer is I want to hand make it. I believe there is something special about the love and intention you can put into hand making something. And I believe standing under a web of hand made rope will be something special indeed.
Plus it's cheap! And sustainable! As I use 2nd hand sheets. This part of the art installation will cost a grand total of NZ$20.
When I get back to Sydney I would dearly love to make a proper giant tatting roof. But I know I can not do it on my own! So if you would like to join me, please let me know!
This week, after more questions to The Journey team about the orientation of the structure on the site, the final design of The Sacred Journey crystalized in my mind. I have to admit, it always gets me a bit worried, because for a long time it feels like it’s never going to happen. This is a process I am familiar with now, and I’ve learned to trust it. It takes a certain amount of time, information gathering and rest, and waiting, until boom, the inspiration hits and everything that has been calculating in my mind suddenly snaps into focus.
There has been a lot to consider, and different ideas have come and gone, including whether to open up the opportunity to other artists (Radical Inclusion), or to allow my art flow with The Journey, as it was invited and intended. I finally chose the latter and have let my own art and influences shape the space.
Introducing the Design
Access to the temple is via a “tunnel” which will spiral into the centre of the temple. This tunnel will be laid out in six different sections, each with a gateway to the next section, consisting of cloth banners that fall onto the path way.
Cutting of Cloth
This weekend saw the first cutting of cloth for the installation, a banner I have been thinking through for a long time – The Chakra Gateway. This depicts the (Westernised version of the) 7 chakra system, with a doilie to represent the swirling energy of each charka vortex. As with most of the work, the fabric sourced for this piece have been found in opshops (thrift stores). This takes a while to find everything I need, but I like the challenge of working with what is available. Through reusing old items, it is a small contribution towards sustainability and I try to avoid buying new fabric when I can.
I often find myself having to teach myself new skills when making things, and this weekend it was all about how to make 6, 12 and 10, petalled flowers out of paper. It’s not as easy as you think! But I enjoy the process of trial and error and making things with my hands. The table became littered with petals of all numbers, and the first of the chakras for the banner completed.
Work Plan Set
Now that the design has been finalised, it is possible to map out all the things that need to be done in the next 9 weeks. Breaking down the tasks make it less overwhelming… especially when there is our Australian regional, Burning Seed and a trip to New Zealand in between now and YOUtopia. (FYI, from now on you will constantly see me carrying around hand-sewing to be done on the run. Every moment counts!)
If this design inspires you and you want to get behind and help out, there are things you can do which require no sewing experience. I need the overlocker humming to make all the strips of fabric that will be woven into The Journey Structure. Get in contact and help me out! Or if you live in Whangarei, come to my finger knitting workshop, where we will create the roof of the temple together during the September school holidays.
2017 has seen an exciting evolution in my art exploration. After being unable to set up Sacred Seed at Kiwiburn 2017 (due to the forest being deemed unsafe due tree limbs falling at random), I started to think about designing an external structure, so that I was no longer dependent on a forest to hang my work. At the Global Leadership Summit of Burning Man, I met Lee Hemingway, one of the leads of The Journey, an art installation heading to Burning Man. Boom. Collaboration.
After a very animated discussion about the Torus - of which both art projects are influenced by - we exchanged contact details, and forwarded our art to each other. 6 weeks later, Lee got back in touch with me, and invited me to collaborate on their project, happening after Burning Man.
The Journey's crew home Burn is YOUtopia, and they decided to apply for 'Temple', and asked me if I would consider using my art work to shroud an decorate The Journey structure. The Temple is a sacred art installation at Burn events, and have become a tradition around the world. They are designed to be a contemplative space, which can be written on, and at the end of the event the piece is usually burned, acting out a ritual of letting go through and being at peace. However, at the YOUtopia event, the Temple does not burn, due to fire restrictions on the land they use.
The Temple Journey proposes to use the existing structure of The Journey as the bones of the Temple. I will “dress” the structure with fabric art installations to transform it into a Temple. The art work will reflect my own art style (lace, quilting, doilies and hand painted banners). The Journey structure will be aligned in such a way so that it is a spiral, and the tunnel will be covered to create a journeying process for those making their way into the Temple.
This project has now won Temple status and grant money been allocated, which means that I will be heading to San Diego in October to install the work. Watch this blog for updates and more detail.