Life is an oscillation between movement and stillness - a soaring bird grounded by gravity's pull. Earth represents the still part of us, while light represents the dynamic; both are important within us - the celestial self held within the earthly body. The yearning for the light within us is what sets us on our journey.
The pigments I use represent stillness. Some are old and settled, having lived in their habitats for thousands of years, others newly born but strong and vibrant, both bringing forth grounding energy that lies within them. The diamond dust, however, plays with the light. It creates a continually moving feast between light and darkness, at once brilliant, at once hidden.
My use of these two elements is a re-writing of the origins of my journey, which began with my feet firmly planted in the glittering earth of Hormoz Island in Iran, witnessing ancient stillness and vibrant dancing light.
The pigments I use can be categorised into four groups:
By working with the Earth, I truly believe our heart centres are ignited with love, which then raises our vibration so we can tap into higher consciousness. It is a privilege to be part of the alchemical process that is the transformation from rock/earth/plant to pigment, and I take great pleasure in this physical part of the work, which is also very grounding. There is a lot to learn in the journey and the Earth has become my teacher throughout every journey we haved embarked on together. The more we work together, the more my heart burns with the desire to protect her, and so the process becomes one big cycle of healing.
I also find that by processing the rock or plant from scratch into pigment gives me much more control as to how the final pigment comes out, in terms of texture and colour. My work is often noted for the very vibrant and rich pigments used, and this is definitely a result of the pigment making process.
In addition to the earth-based pigments, a wide range of exceptionally vibrant and punchy colours can be made from the transformation of metal into pigment, bringing a lot of energy to the palette. I am always on the look-out for new and exciting pigments to use. In recent years I have become deeply interested in the healing properties of colour, being particularly fascinated with the effects that different frequencies of colour have on us. Every colour vibrates to a particular tune and having access to a huge world of pigments allows me to explore the subtle properties of the complex colour spectrum that makes up our universe.
My use of diamond dust is really a homage to that first pilgrimage I made to Hormoz Island, Iran, in 2016. Standing on its sparkling beaches, I experienced a truly life-changing moment as I silently watched the light dancing over the hematite sand. Observing how sun bounced off the glittery sand took me into a trance-like state as the light brought movement into the otherwise stationary earth. I think this is why glittery and sparkly things have always been so intoxicating for human beings since ancient times because it allows the eye to focus on the movement of the light, which can then induce a relaxing, meditative state for the individual.
As I watched the play between the sun and sand, it struck me that there is a powerful and beautiful relationship between stillness and movement that can also be seen to mirror our inner universe comprised of moving spirit bound by the stationary body, as well as the wider universe made up of Light and Earth. This magnetic visual effect led me to incorporate diamond dust into my work, celebrating the exciting dance between light and pigment, just as the sparkly sand did. Like the nightingale singing for the rose, we are all simply fragments of light yearning to return back home to the light.
The diamond dust I use is of the highest grade (99.8% clarity), ground down to my specifications and then stuck to the work using my own handmade gum Arabic solution.
All gilding is done using 24ct extra-thick loose gold leaf. I use garlic juice to stick the gold, which makes the gold even more luminous. I also make my own shell gold (gold paint) using 24ct extra-thick loose gold leaf.
All my paper is hand-made by traditional papermakers, mostly in Iran and India, and then further prepared by myself using methods from the Persian miniature tradition of Iran. The preparation involves a combination of sizing the paper with glue I make from ground-up foxtail lily root and burnishing to a fine polish with agate stones.
All my handmade paint is made using the highest quality of gum Arabic Kordofan, a natural gum made from the hardened sap of the Acacia Senegal tree in Sudan. I grind the raw gum arabic to a powder and then prepare it as a solution ready for it to be used in the paint making process.