In Backstory

I explore the major images that appeared during the period 1991 – 2016 by following the thread of meaning as it weaves to and fro across the years.

“The need for mythic statements is satisfied when we frame a view of the world which adequately explains the meaning of human existence in the cosmos, a view which springs from our psychic wholeness, from the co-operation between conscious and unconscious. Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness. Meaning makes a great many things endurable – perhaps everything.”

CG Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections p 340

THE ZEBRA-FISH (1994 – 2014) came to me in a dream. It symbolizes the greater mystery of life, both inside and outside me. It unites above and below, masculine and feminine, cold-blooded and warm-blooded, the opposites. It stands for wholeness, and it brings hope. I have to learn to relate to this mystery to find meaning in life and my own right place. This image contained and inspired me on my journey through life and somehow contains all the others. It took me 20 years to complete it. A few years into the process I began noticing the shape of the continent of Africa at central.

THE WHITE MAN (1992) is the masculine principle of consciousness and integrity in man and woman alike. When he is out of balance, he is perfectionistic, potentially violent, exploiting and controlling, but when in balance he represents integrity and strength. I experienced him initially as a critical inner voice. He can be seen as the yang force and is represented by the white lines in THE ZEBRA-FISH. He is seen at the fire of his own transformation.

MARY MAGDALENE (1992) is his feminine counterpart, the feminine principle, or the personification of the unconscious. Together they form the inner couple, he is the sun, consciousness; she is the beautiful moon, nature. As the alchemical pair, they are Sol and Luna. In our culture and in our lives she is suppressed and wounded, and often projected onto dark-skinned people. She is the yang force and the black lines in THE ZEBRA-FISH.

SPLIT FEMININITY, MARY MAGDALENE AND BARBIE (1992, reworked 2004) is the eye of Mary Magdalene; it is what she sees, the psychic wound. The two women are mother and daughter: in this image, the mother represents the basic psychological pattern and structure of the personality, while the daughter is the life manifesting from this structure as real lived life and influenced by the culture. As opposites they are forever in conflict and struggling to restore the relationship again, a process by which one grows toward maturity; but this natural process is sealed off, as if in an egg, and the process of inner growth is hampered. That is the wound. They are seen in moon horns, the waxing (younger feminine principle) and waning (older feminine principle) moon, associated with ancient cultures and religious practices that centered around the feminine principle. Together they protect the inner fire of compassion.

SOPHIA (1994 – 2014) stands for the wisdom of nature as opposed to the one-sided power of the culture. She is the true containing force. The gorilla represents the instinctual aspect of human nature. His left hand is upon the shoulder of Sophia: is he pressing her down, or is he her right arm? The urge to suppress nature has to change to the instinctive support of one’s own true nature, a long and uncomfortable time in the fire. The light falls upon the right arm of the gorilla, holding on to the line that Sophia holds in her hands; he has to hold on and trust in the outcome. The sun, Sol as one-sided consciousness in need of balance, has such a long rope, he does not even realize he is bound, but as the element of air he is the first to be influenced by change. In this way Sophia is gradually growing back into consciousness and her rightful central place, her message to the patriarchate.

THE KING OR STRIDER (2003) is the king who lost all and has to be restored to his rightful heritage. In THE ZEBRA-FISH, he is the sangoma at the edge of the water who has the vision that has to be conveyed to the conscious personality. To me he represents healthy animus energy.

MULBERRY WOMAN (2003 – 2012) is born from the tree, from her ear, for I am born through hearing myself. Yet, she is also the tree. In front of my window, where I often sat, struggling with my load, there was this tree. Mulberry Woman goes down into the underworld, she suffers it through, and brings new growth with the new spring. She goes up and down, restoring the lost connection between above and below, over-bridging the divide.

THE WAY (1999 – 2003) is the seeking and the struggle to restore the relationship to the mystery of one’s own life.  Nine women are following one after the other. They represent phases in the development of the inner process of renewal and reminds one of pregnancy. At left is the Trickster in unconscious form as a small figure, and at right he can be seen as Thoth, the baboon-god, representing wisdom. Behind the woman can be seen text from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, referring to that ancient knowledge about the inner process of death and rebirth. Even today this ancient mythological pattern provide containment on one’s path.

THE BRIDGE (1996 – 2016), from a dream, is the end of a time, as opposed to the dawn of a new period in THE ZEBRA-FISH. The stones are a collective sacred place reminiscent of Stonehenge, and the place of the waters. Therefore it is also the place of the Mother as the unconscious, a place of death and birth: through self-acceptance, the boat, the vehicle and vessel of the process, may become the boat of the vagina and birth. At this doorway, on this threshold, one may find one’s own true name and one’s own sacred stone.