- a form of chemistry and speculative philosophy practiced in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and concerned principally with discovering methods for transmuting baser metals into gold and with finding a universal solvent and an elixir of life.
- any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.
Alchemists and artists alike are highly ingenious, transforming materials and creating their own worlds and realities. Alchemy and art are therefore intimately related practices and they both, alchemists and artists, have mutually influenced and enriched each other throughout history. Alchemists were convinced that mercury transcended both the solid and liquid states, both earth and heaven, both life and death. Its interesting to note that in Sanskrit, ‘rasa’ translates to “mercury”, and Nāgārjuna Siddha was said to have developed a method of converting mercury into gold. Mercury is one of the seven metals of alchemy: gold, silver, mercury, copper, lead, iron & tin. Rasa in Hindi also means the agreeable quality of something, especially the emotional or aesthetic impression of a work of art – it can also mean the juice of life.
Alchemists used symbols, hypotheses and experimented. Artists are continually experimenting – with new styles, materials, symbols, subject matters and new ideas. I’ve really enjoyed experimenting and working with iridescent and metallic pigments over the past 15 years. I use many mediums and paint to mix with these iridescent pigments creating a huge number of new and exciting colours that I couldn’t create without the use of metallics. The opalescent quality of the paint is like magic – catching the light, changing as you walk around the room, complementary refractions like shot silk happen before the viewers’ eyes. I also love working in clay and using glazes – the firing process is magical – in that moment when reaching the necessary heat in the kiln – the glaze turns, transforms and mutates into something totally different to what it was before. You never really know what the outcome will be.
Alchemy in art is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained. An example of using alchemy is a person who takes a pile of scrap metal and turns it into beautiful art. This is what Creatives do best. We see something that looks normal to most – and we notice it’s unique quality, its inherent beauty, it’s special shape or the potential of it, we see the magic, the colours, and through that vision we pursue the creative quest.
Alchemists’ techniques, and their pursuit of creative power, have had a huge influence of on art. The successful transformation of raw materials into precious materials is somehow like the creation of precious artworks – from the use of certain materials and the imagination – comes a unique creative gift or offering. Creativity or art making is a magical power, a special and fascinating process and in society has a real and great value.
I believe Creativity is not just for the ‘artistic’ – I believe ‘non-creatives’ just don’t exist. It is all about seeing and thinking in a different way and therefore producing something unique. By starting to focus more around self expression and self reflection and staying curious we begin to notice the everyday things in a more magical way. We see that if we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. We notice. We observe. We understand. We change. It’s all creative alchemy.
By staying open and explorative and looking & listening with intention we have a desire to create what we see in our unique way. Our visual voice and our interpretation of nature and the environment grows and we strengthen our connection with ourselves and others. We hear our inner intuition. We realise that each and every decision we make is shaping the future for ourselves and others.
The Creative Process is healing and transformative and plays a huge part in inclusivity, building a healthy community and staying grounded. It develops confidence, builds self love and acceptance and compassion.
To be creative we must be patient with ourselves and develop an inner dialogue of compassion otherwise we would never show up at the blank page or canvas.
More than ever before we need the CREATIVE PROCESS in our lives to spark joy, to find peace of mind & body, and to live a fulfilling life of understanding, self expression and meaning.