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Sunday, 28 May 2017

Spotlight - Connective reasons for making art, and Mandalas

This month, Spotlight shines on the meanings in mandalas and artistic wishes and ways to connect.
A mandala is a physical manifestation of gratitude
We are creators

Mandalas are usually thought of as patterns, drawings, multicoloured swirling geometric images. There are many forms. Now is a good time of year to make land mandalas: patterns on the land, on grass or soil or on rocks, made by placing colourful leaves, found petals, pieces of moss, stones.. pretty much anything natural. Placing them in patterns, typically circular patterns growing outwards as you go. It is basically like land art.

As with any art, creating a land mandala is an act of focus, and takes your mind from other things. It is this giving of yourself to the creation you are assembling and shaping, the object, and to the act, that is much of why it is a pleasure to make mandalas. A way to escape from what we may find tedious and uncreative in daily obligations and routines. Not an “escape from reality” but a shift into another reality: that of the work we are creating when we paint or sculpt or draw. And a shift into its meanings – whether we paint a sunset to convey a cosy warm feeling, or an activist piece to make viewers aware of politicians’ unfulfilled promises – or sketch about families, or sculpt about the environment.
Duck House Echos is a painting by Caroline Krieger Comings 

According to the mandala principle, a prominent feature of tantric Buddhism, all phenomena are part of one reality. Whether good or bad, happy or sad, clear or obscure, everything is interrelated and reflects a single totality.
It is particularly rewarding to make mandalas with other people – sharing that letting go, and sharing a creative process. Placing leaves or petals or stones, everyone does their thing for the collective whole. Like a social blending of different ages and wisdoms, or views and cultures. When we drop the burdens and worries, and the petty politics, and money worries or whatever it is that we think makes other people enemies…. Connectedness is stronger.
This is true in our art practice. Does anyone do art to take something away from someone else, or make them into enemies, or make them feel small? We do it for connectedness.
As with art, some people think it’s a waste of time, or an indulgent hobby. Many of us see its value. What it conveys, what it gives, and why people do it. What it shares.
Mandalas communicate less obviously. They still do. Their meanings are maybe a bit more obscure, generally. Like art, their meanings are very clear when you do them. Also like art, what a mandala means is up to you.


  1. Amazing piece of connectedness.... The day after I wrote this, in a field I met someone who wanted help on how to explain mandalas, for a children's workshop about drawing a mandala. All of this blog writing was perfect prep to be really helpful in the solid world. The workshop host is Polish, and felt that her English language skills needed help to explain generally, and particularly to children. I helped her plan how to do a collective mandala with kids without starting with a circle to fill in - a limiting circles that counteracts the essence of growth. How to grow from the centre. And how to do an earth mandala. Managed to really help someone, who is doing great stuff for tiny humans. Thank you Claire and Camp Conscious and providence and connectivity.

  2. A mandala is a physical manifestation of gratitude