Mandals unmuddle the mind

2011-09-01 00:00

IT all starts with a circle. Then you let your imagination wander, the pen allowing the mind to unravel the intricate emotions of the day onto paper. This is a form of active meditation and what is created is a mandala.

Swirls, patterns, squiggles — slowly the meditation unfolds and the end result can be beautiful or not, it doesn’t matter. Local artist Jutta Faulds has released her own book on mandalas, an art form which she has perfected over many years.

For her, the obsession with mandalas began with a workshop on the subject held six years ago by Kobie Venter, and then she fell in love with the historical art form which has been used by mystics, psychologists and religions to centre the mind.

For many people the mandala may be associated with the intricate patterns of the Japanese or Buddhist mandalas which are beautifully patterned and filled with spiritual symbolism, but a mandala need not be complex or religious.

The word mandala is believed to have originated from the Sanskrit word “circle” or “completion” and most mandalas are created around a circle. The goal of the mandala is to draw the eye into the centre of the picture.

For Faulds, her mandalas have evolved from structured ones to free form and now she does not judge the ones she produces daily for their artistic appeal but tries to let them flow. She says: “Mandalas are found in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions, but if you look at the old European art, you will see that there are similar concepts.

“The circles in the celtic cross and the patterns in Christian church stained glass windows are like mandalas. They draw the eye to the middle. The famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung used the mandala in therapy because he saw that by drawing a mandala one was able to go into the subconscious and separate the threads of one’s identity.”

Faulds says she tries not to consciously choose a pattern or colour beforehand, but rather lets her current frame of mind or mood dictate the form of the mandala. “It is a kind of escape from the part of your mind that is always judging you.”

The process begins with a blank piece of paper. “I draw a circle somewhere on the page to get rid of the fear of the white page. Then I begin without deliberate intention. I love colour and I use it liberally. Sometimes I glue pieces of paper on here and there.

“Sometimes I scribble a few words on the side and the date. The main object is to detach from the end result. It is the process of creating and unwinding that is important and if it is not so pretty it does not matter.”

Faulds’ impressive collection of mandalas, which are indeed very pretty, were displayed at the Tatham Art Gallery last year. She created some large ones out of recycled material. But for her, creating a daily mandala is her equivalent of writing in a diary.

“I do it as a habit and I find it calming and restoring. Some people find they relax by doing exercise or cooking or gardening, for me it is the act of picking up my pencil and beginning a mandala.” She has decorated one journal — of boring financial pages — with beautiful mandalas and not one of them is the same. This love affair culminated in her book of mandalas which were compiled from her personal diaries.

At the Midlands Arts and Crafts Society (Macs) they have also compiled a small guidebook for those who would like to try their hand at the ancient art.

Faulds says she would recommend mandalas for anyone who needs to find time to unwind and who loves art.

“It’s therapy and fun all in one and it allows the hand to unwind the complexities of the mind. All it costs is a set of colour pens and a few pages of paper.”•  Macs offer mandala workshops, if you are interested in attending, phone 033 386 6500.

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