Awakenings IV, 2020

Awakenings IV premiered for Artweek Auckland 2020 at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell Auckland. It is an installation artwork that offers an immediate and potentially sustained encounter. A large levitating partially concealed object of uncertain substance is illuminated in a field of white and gold coloured light. It speaks of the unknowable and unfathomable spiritual mystery and beauty of natural phenomena, and acts as a threshold into the terrain of the numinous. The concept of the numinous speaks to the realms of our experience which cannot be quantified, explained, or contained – our intuition, and our feeling-states; our connection to the cosmos, and, for some, a sense of the divine. I am interested in the intersection of art with spiritual experience, and aspire to create installations that activate spaces for audiences that offer a possible awakening to wonder. This exhibition aims to explore relationships between abstraction, colour, light, and space, contributing to the conversations around the connections between abstraction and spiritual experience.

The circle is the primary geometric symbol in this work and relates to sacred geometries which have long and rich histories dating back to 2000–1001 BCE in Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures. The circle or sphere is a universal symbol with extensive meaning. It represents the notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, life, and all cyclic movement. Sacred geometries, termed by Galileo ‘the language of the universe’, are trans-cultural existing in nature, architectural structures (in particular sites of worship) and art. The music of the spheres, harmonics, and music are related to the planets and their distance from one another and the sun. The sphere can evoke the heavens. The veiling of the sphere references the shroud, the veil between the seen and unseen realms, between the heavens and the earth.

Awakenings IV, 2020. Installation from custom pvc sphere, helium, air, organza mesh, light, 2 x 2 x 6 m. Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand. 

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Karen Sewell is a visual artist who lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland. Sewell graduated with a Master of Fine Arts (Honours) in 2016 from Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design. She is interested in the intersection of art with spiritual experience and aspires to create artworks that activate spaces for participants to be able to experience liminal moments of awareness of the unseen and unknown. Sewell works across multiple media specialising in installation practice. Her work has been selected for multiple awards, winning The Trusts Award in 2011 and is represented in private collections including The James Wallace Arts Trust. Sewell has exhibited work across New Zealand with a highlight being Awakenings IV at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in October 2020. Her work is represented in private collections including The James Wallace Arts Trust. In addition to her creative practice, Sewell founded The Bonfire and now facilitates this national artist network. The aims of The Bonfire are to assist and support the thriving of other artists, through online blog posts and face to face regular meet-ups involving workshops, retreats and events.

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