Behind The Personal Shrine Project
I am Gavin Ryan, an artist from Australia, who’s art has been about many things over the years but much of it has been about the nature of “Belief” as a core factor behind the best and worst of human behaviour and saying something meaningful about it in the context of the Big Picture issues of our time.
From an early age I was trying to make sense of the world, as we all do.
I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and the I Ching, and On Aggression and Woman at the Edge of Time and many others... and much of my art has consisted of satirical observations of the dark side of the human psyche in various different styles and media.
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The Tipping Point
Previously known as:
Giant Shopping Trolley of the Apocalypse
At the Edge of the Flat Earth
Acrylic on Canvas
2400mm x 3600mm
This was the centrepiece of my “Sex and Death ...and Shopping” exhibition in the late Noughties.
It was my big satirical observation on the state of the world and the human condition. Politics, religion, history, society, consumerism, mass media, conflict, inequality and environment.
It’s about Evolution and Belief...
and Sex and Death ...and Shopping.
It was a premonition then.
It’s a statement of the bleedin’ obvious now.
My works touched on various aspects of life as we know it. I derived much creative satisfaction from it and many people seemed to more or less get what I was saying but at a certain point I started to feel like I was just stating the bleedin’ obvious by focusing on the negative.
I started to want my art to be about making a difference in the world for the positive.
I found that I wanted to profoundly touch people’s deeper core beyond thought and belief and inspire an emotional response that comes from that mostly-dormant sense of wonder and child-like openness beyond ego, fear and desire. To create an immersive experience so beautiful and compelling such as to elicit a momentary suspension of the habitual and compulsive mental noise that comprises our image of who we think we are and a rediscovery of our fundamental essence beyond the superficial material world.
I wanted to draw on ancient teachings and symbols but try and make them more meaningful and accessible in a personal modern context. I wanted to help people explore their own meanings and interpret those teachings and symbols anew... or better yet, make their own.
My goal was to create functional art who’s function was to define a sacred space, an inner sanctum that pervades the domestic environment with a sense of calm and symmetry, timeless wisdom, light and the truth that emanates from beauty and who’s meaning and purpose is a call to conscious evolution.
There is much use of the term, “Evolution in Consciousness” in New Age circles but I personally think many miss its full significance.
The process of natural selection... the drive to compete... survival of the fittest... dog eat dog... the pecking order... all mechanisms of Darwinian Evolution as it has always been have done a wonderful job of bringing the miracle of life to this planet.
We humans are the pinnacle of the old Evolution’s miraculous process thus far but now stand at the tipping point… to either crash and burn or evolve… Consciously.
Through us, Evolution itself must evolve for Life to fulfil the latent potential written into every strand of DNA.
We must start to realise that our survival now depends on leaving all that egoic separation and competition behind and begin to live and act from a realisation of our fundamental unity… and shared destiny.
What we Believe, and how we believe it, will either take us all towards that destiny or be the greatest stumbling block on the tipping point into oblivion.
Be careful what you Believe… and who wants you to believe it.
Hold it lightly and keep an open mind.
Question and be prepared to change or at least adjust what you believe if it no longer serves to make Life better... personally or collectively.
Our Beliefs are either stuck in the old evolution or are part of the new.
We don’t need a Personal Shrine or any other physical or conceptual object to become more Conscious, but if it serves as a reminder, and a beacon, and a doorway, taking you deeper into that which you hold sacred, use it.
Sacred Space Cadet Ryan reporting for duty!
This project represents my goal to create the most meaningful and profound piece of art I have ever undertaken. I hope that doesn't sound too pompous!.. I actually much prefer to let my art speak for itself generally.
I want to create an immersive experience that takes the beholder on a journey into themselves through a series of meditative interactions and explorations of the symbology and ancient teachings of Eastern Philosophy and spiritual tradition in a way that makes them profoundly relevant now.
Personal Shrines have been a fundamental feature of many belief systems since the dawn of history.
It is my ambition to bring the essence of those forms, and the universal understandings of life that can be discovered through them, into a thoroughly modern context.
To make sense of the chaos of contemporary existence through the lens of deep wisdom that originates in the earliest flowering of human spirit and evoke a state of inner peace... an individual evolution of consciousness in the here and now that will be essential if we are to have any collective future at all.
The first stage of this vision is to facilitate the establishment of a dedicated and compellingly beautiful sacred space at the heart of one’s home environment... one that shifts the energy of the room and the entire house just by its very presence but more importantly, draws one to engage with it ever more deeply.
There is nothing new about a Personal Shrine but I want to present the concept in a way that bridges old and new, drawing inspiration from as many sources as possible, offering an ever-wider selection of objects, symbols, embellishments and details as well as comprehensive explanations and interpretations of the traditional meanings and rituals from which they are derived. All of this in one place via a modern digital portal that brings them all together in a way that ultimately inspires a journey beyond the forms of the objects themselves, and the concepts they symbolise, and towards a higher and deeper state of Being. A transcendence of the fears and obsessions that have kept us trapped in endless cycles of dysfunctional turmoil and conflict throughout history.
Most of the physical elements I will be curating in this portal will be authentic traditional shrines and their associated components from many different origins but, as an artist myself, I am creating my own expressions in this medium, fusions and reinterpretations of traditional forms that are meaningful to me personally and trust that they will resonate for others as well.. The creative process itself is my primary spiritual practice... a conscious meditation that is rooted in present moment awareness with the purpose of bringing beauty and meaning into the world. The possibility that someone else can then utilise the fruits of my labours for similar aims is the icing on the cake.
Whether one buys into any of the rest of the Personal Shrine vision, is a personal choice. Even if its just a one-off acquisition with no intrinsic value beyond the utilitarian and aesthetic I hope it becomes a family heirloom that long outlives the digital devices it is designed for.
I have a team of carvers in Bali working on these. They are rural villagers who’s traditional carving skills this project is helping to keep viable and attractive to the next generation.
More on them here.