Psyche and Art

Wilna’s inner journey brought a discovery of the reality of Psyche through the expression of art. She views the creative space as the sacred space between above and below. In this approach the canvas becomes a living mirror. In this ‘mirror’ she discovered meaningful inner truth.

Wilna entered the world of art through an unusual experiment in an attempt to discover the ‘inner other’, treating the canvas consciously as a mirror. In those early years she had no guidance, but insisted instead on keeping this private, sacred space free of external influences.

She views this creative space as an in-between space, a space between heaven and earth, the space visited by shaman and artist alike since the dawn of the human race; it is the cradle of all creativity. She believes that no serious artwork can be produced without engagement with the sacred side of being, or without a personal struggle with one’s own daemon. A new way of viewing art is also suggested in that an artist may become a mouthpiece for that deeper part of the psyche, and so make a meaningful contribution to consciousness.

What started as creative experimentation with the psyche eventually culminated in the art exhibition at the Irma Stern Museum. The books, The Old Woman and the Moon and Die Zebravis, were published simultaneously. This in turn developed into the workshop, Creativity and the Inner Other. In this workshop she shares with others this process of communicating with the inner world through creative work of all kinds, a form of active imagination. In Backstory she follows the thread of deeper meaning as it meanders across 25 years.

Psyche Unfolding in Art

When I started painting I was fascinated by the process of projecting unconscious content and finding it to be meaningful. Early in my work I realized that psychological insight was often followed by the spontaneous solving of artistic problems.

I discovered that the images appearing before my mind’s eye will continue to develop and unfold in unexpected ways if I would only listen and I found that the unconscious was even feeding me at times artistic assistance. Even when I worked from photographs the process and my approach remained exactly the same.

Irma Stern Museum Exhibition

The 2016 exhibition at the Irma Stern Museum, Cape Town, included work spanning 25 years of inner life in image. It was opened by Amanda Botha, well-known art journalist and writer from Cape Town. The exhibition coincided with the annual Africa Day celebrations at the University of Cape Town. Read Amanda’s opening words.


My sincerest thanks to the Jung Foundation of New York for the publication of the article on my journey in the Fall/Winter issue of 2020-21. Click to view the article.

A Bird’s Eye-view of South African Art by Amanda Botha, DeKat 2016

In Wilna van der Walt’s work she gives expression to the inner consciousness of healing powers that find expression in the creative fervency. Here it has to do with the activation of the practice of art to stimulate the subconscious to find expression in an image and a striving for purification. The exhibition, The old woman and the Moon, in the Irma Stern Museum in Rosebank, Cape Town, represents the symbolic journey of the artist, which takes her along uncharted paths within the Jungian context. She opens herself to tell her story on canvas within the rich chaos of inner perceptions.

Her palette becomes the medium and her canvas the reportage of her psychic journey, and the answer to her continuous inner dialogue. Like the writer Milan Kundera, she finds in her work ‘the unbearable lightness’, and she can turn her ‘sunflowers’ to the light like Vincent van Gogh. Each of these paintings has its own life – a part of the greater puzzle of truths that form part of a wider cosmic understanding.