The Tabula Project aims to provide a new perspective on the mind. The paintings seek to depict different states of consciousness and thought. They are in three main sections and were produced in parallel over a period of more than 25 years. Examining Thought seeks to explore current predominant thought forms. Clearing the Mind is about achieving a state of consciousness without thought. Building a New Framework is about discovering a new integrated framework for thought where the whole mind is in balance.
Faulty perception is at the root of our suffering and much of the trouble in the world. If we can correct this perception the world will radically change. We need to examine ourselves, the filter through which we perceive the world. This leads to the recognition of our fundamental interdependence with each other and the biosphere.
Metamorphosis explores the fluidity of the self and the infinitely malleable and changeable nature of consciousness. The paintings depict states of awareness, and a range of sensations of pain and pleasure which could be experienced by any sentient being. The fourth painting in the series, Easing the burden of consciousness (pictured) encapsulates the driving motivation behind The Tabula Project.
[1993, 15 paintings, oil on canvas, each 96×106 cm]
Evolve to Survive explores the self-limiting nature of much of our current thinking. The series describes how thinking that is focused primarily on self-interest can become self-defeating and destructive, as described in the second painting Life shrinks further inside (pictured). We are hard wired to focus on that which serves our immediate narrow self-interest, but this leads to poor decisions.
[1994, 4 paintings, oil on canvas, each 80×88 cm]
Forms of Thought attempts to represent generic thought forms. The paintings in this series are deliberately devoid of figurative content, the assumption being that the patterns depicted could apply to a wide range of subject matter. The paintings seek to explore in the most abstract sense how the mind processes and generates information.
[1994-2007, 9 paintings, oil on canvas, each 80×88 cm]
Clearing the Mind
Our minds are often cluttered with repetitive thoughts that make it very difficult for us to be fully present. Managing the mind is a key skill, and this includes the discipline at times to be able to switch thought off. We need to discover the ability to live fully in the here and now. This is the pathway to true understanding.
States of Mind depict different states of consciousness. Each ink wash was produced very quickly, the result of a spontaneous outpouring of visual thoughts and feelings. It was an enormously cathartic process. The effect was one of at least briefly decluttering the mind, accessing stillness, before more thoughts and feelings emerge.
[1993, 15 studies, ink on paper, each 34×44 cm]
In Search of the Perfect Line, illustrates the challenge of quietening the mind. The paintings seek to define the mind at rest, the landscape upon which new thought will eventually emerge. The perfect line represents a clear mind. But in searching for the perfect line, new lines continue to appear seeming to replace the previous ones – like repetitive thoughts which echo unprompted and repeatedly through the mind.
[1994, 6 paintings, oil on canvas, each 80×88 cm]
Tabula Rasa depicts the mind at rest, free of thought and full of infinite potential. The perfect line emerges as the interface between black and white. Clearing the mind of thought, creating a blank canvas on which we can create a new framework. This creating the conditions for mindfulness, pure potentiality and the freedom to redefine ourselves.
[1995-2015, 16 paintings, acrylic on board, each 92×92 cm]
Building a New Framework
The goal is a new integrated framework for thought, where the whole mind is in balance, with thoughts, feelings and intuitions working together in harmony. The mind becomes a tool at our disposal. Free from incessant thoughts we can become open to new insights, and eventually able to reach a place of enlightenment.
Building a New Framework develops further the generic patterns of thought depicted in the Forms of Thought series. The nine-part series presents an evolution to an increasingly integrated thought system. The journey begins with a representation of basic cognitive awareness and gradually builds in layer by layer more developed thoughts, feelings, and intuitions. The final painting in this series (pictured) seeks to bring all these aspects together into an integrated whole.
[1994-2010, 9 paintings, oil on canvas, each 80x88cm]
Finding New Frontiers illustrates some insights from the fields of quantum mechanics, string theory and the complexity sciences, including The Particle and the Wave (pictured). Patterns can be a way of expressing the inexpressible where verbal communication is inadequate. There are fundamental principles about how things work, and these principles can be captured in patterns.
[2006-2007, 6 paintings, acrylic on board, each 92×92 cm]
A New Framework. In the final series the boundaries between thoughts, feelings and intuitions begin to dissolve. The paintings point to the beginnings of a new framework for awareness. We may recognise that the self too is an object in our awareness, a filter through which we see the world. We may come to see our knowledge as a tool or a construction, and our “selves” as constructions too. This brings the possibility of real change: the liberation from the self. With this liberation comes the realisation that any division between ourselves and the world is an illusion.
[2011-14, 3 paintings, oil and acrylic, each 92x92cm]