Below are some answers I gave a student from South Australia last year as part of her assignment in Art Studies. I thought the questions where very good and so I post them here for all to see.
Various sources worldwide have discussed that there is a “Spirituality Revolution” taking place; that is, people are turning away from traditional religion in search of a more personal spirituality. What are your views on this?
I would not call it a ‘Spirituality Revolution’ revolutions never happen without bloodshed and so that would go against the belief’s most spiritual people hold dear, that all life is very important and precious. This just sounds like the media trying to cause discontent again something it does so well .Traditional religions are growing again especially in countries like America, all forms of religion and spirituality are growing this always happens when the world is in turmoil as it sadly seems to me now. The media hype up the doom and people run to find comfort in whatever way they find best for them . True spirituality requires a great deal from people, it requires they think for themselves go against thousands of years of programming and in many ways be seen as freaks by the mass population ….For me Spirituality requires so many life changes that very few after looking into it stay with it for very long …Most religions( with the exception of some eastern religions like Buddhism) by their very nature require that you ask very few questions and if you do the answers are all to be found in scripture this fits well for many and if people truly find comfort with it and follow it’s teaching of peace and love and goodwill to all men (and women) that’s just fine.
It has been said that it was dangerous to an artists career to use the word “spiritual” particularly in the late 1930’s and 1940’s. You use this word quite openly. What do you believe has changed between now and then? And what exactly is your definition of the word ‘spiritual’ or ‘spirituality’?
Spirituality Concerns itself with matters of the spirit. The word “spirit” coming from the Latin “spiritus” meaning “breath”. Breath is sometimes used as a metaphor for life for example ‘he tock his last breath and died’ So for me Spirituality is the asking of life’s great questions the big how and why and who etc. I think of it as a life of study of ones self and the universe around you and how everything interconnects. I think people who use the word spiritual to describe themselves are from all backgrounds and from all faiths. For me It describes a person who wishes to help all living creatures in the best way they can, enjoy life without negativity impacting on others and the world and believe what they do without forcing it on others. Sadly many of the views I express in my art and on this site would be seen as deeply offensive today in the bible belts of the world, even though that is not my wish or intention …. so nothing really changes…artist are being persecuted in many countries across the world right now in china and turkey to name a few. You should never produce any meaningful art work without being aware that somewhere someone may be offended by it.
Do you believe yourself to be religious, i.e. devoted entirely to a particular religion? How greatly do you believe traditional religion has influenced your works?
No I do not see myself as religious i.e. devoted entirely to a particular religion …traditional religions all play a part in my work because I feel that all religions share many of the same principles. I can except much from many religions and believe it to be good, right and true, but I can also see much that is sadly harmful and negative but that is my belief and I respect all others even when they don’t respect mine ….
In reference to the “Spirituality Revolution” mentioned above, one of the major causes for this “movement” is that it is no longer believed that religion can speak to people on such an individual level. Working from a spiritual perspective do you believe that your pictures have that quality to better connect with the individual than say, a typical biblical picture?
Nope… I find biblical images very moving and they connect with me on a very deep level as they should anyone who has a well adjusted emotional state. I spend hours viewing other faiths art I would ask everyone to do the same, we should all seek out what connects us and not the obvious thing that separate. Just because I’m not a Christian or a Muslim does not mean I can’t see the deep passion in the works of those two popular religions. My art is different in style but it is backed by the same passion and belief and I hope those from all faiths can see that .. Your question sadly is worded in such a way that if answered un mindfully would suggest people who follow spirituality are at war with those in religion and that is just silly. I believe everyone in the world from this moment on should study every single religion and spiritual belief on earth in a unbiased way and people should be able to go with the one that resonates with them or indeed reject them all . In my art I simply offer a different view to those of religion I put my case forward as do they. I do it without malice and often with humour I don’t know all the answers and in this life I doubt I ever will I simple say how I see things and if people agree with the meanings behind my work great, if not that’s fine live and let live is one of the most important sayings on earth, and the one that is most over looked, by all faiths and belief systems .