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Meet “Sam Mandala”


                                                                                                                         — Heather Conn photo

July 2009

Each summer, the Pacific northwest coastal town of Gibsons, BC, Canada hosts an art display and auction, using a salmon theme. All entrants get the same wooden salmon shape and are invited to revision it their own way with paint,  collage, decoration — whatever. Participants can write a “fish bio” for their entry, if desired.

I decided to have some fun with this. Since I live in Roberts Creek, BC (aka Gumboot Nation), known for its alternative culture and a large, colourful mandala on its pier, I created a fish that I call Sam Mandala.  Here’s what I wrote for his bio:

Sam Mandala is no pushy, upstream sort. Nor does he wallow in the shallows. He likes to find stillness deep in the creek, floating in contemplative bliss along a gentle current. Some folks call it “going with the flow.” During his meditative journeys, he frequently keeps his eyes closed, never quite sure if he’s swum the same river twice. You’ll find him at the watery fringes of the pier in Gumboot Nation, the favoured habitat of the sacred circle. Om . . .

Honor the sacred circle


                                                                                                                         — Heather Conn photo

I love doing collage. I also love the spiral patterns of ammonites, and have collected a number of these intriguing fossils. The symbolic imagery of the circle, one of the most ancient human and sacred forms,  has always fascinated me. I seek out circular forms in my art work, photography, and life (mandalas, labyrinths) as a reminder of the unity and oneness of existence. My husband Frank and I were married in a friend’s labyrinth, which is patterned after the one in Chartres Cathedral.

I created this mirror using a collection of circular forms. The one in the top left is from Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party.


Celebrate yourself with SoulCollage


                                                                                                                         — Heather Conn photo

I facilitate workshops for a process called SoulCollage, which involves creating a personalized deck of collage cards that represent an individual’s archetypal and spiritual influences and sub-personalities. This is a fun and intuitive way to explore hidden parts of yourself and to share these with others. To find out more, check out my website at www.sunshinecoastsoulcollage.ca.


 Mermaids intrigue me


                                                                                                                           — Heather Conn photo

This mermaid tile was my first effort at making mosaics. I was lucky to have access to the studio of friends who are professional mosaic artists. I created the image myself and then they helped me with tips on how to shade with colors, work with the grout, etc. I loved the process and began to seek out public mosaic art. Now I find myself paying much more attention to mosaic designs and installations that I see on public walls, sidewalks, and floors.

For several decades, I have found myself drawn to mermaids, their mythology and their symbolic status of integrating two worlds and life forms. I love the whimsical idea of mermaids. As a redhead, I enjoy the fact that most of them are portayed with scarlet tresses. However, the notion of sirens luring sailors to their death perpetuates the women-as-temptress-and-evil stereotype.

I have collected many mermaid items from earrings and beaded forms to clay figurines. Friends have gifted me with books of mermaid lithographs and paintings. I even ended up co-writing a short film, Divine Waters, about a sea nymph who comes ashore and discovers renewed power on land.


Mermaid’s glory . . . a summer story


                                                                                                                         — Heather Conn photo

I decided to hand-paint a playful mermaid onto some tiles, combined with a simple rhyme. Since I’m a redhead, and most mermaids seem to have red hair, I decided to continue the tradition. This was a fun project which made me want to work with clay again. As a kid, I loved hand-sculpting quirky animals and people out of clay. I hope to get back to that one of these years.


To read some of my magazine features on creative thinkers and artists, please click on my website link.

July 22, 2009 at 11:20 am
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