This month's writing tip:

Confronting Writer's Block

But when the six emotions are stagnant,
the will travels yet the spirit stays put-
a petrified and withered tree,
hollow and dry as a dead river.
Then you must excavate your own soul,
search yourself till your spirit is refreshed.
But the mind gets darker and darker
and sometimes you must pull ideas like silk from a cocoon.
Sometimes you labor hard and build regrets-
then dash off a flawless gem.
Though this thing comes out of me,
I can't master it with strength.
I often stroke my empty chest and sigh:
what blocks and what opens this road?

from The Art of Writing: Teaching of the Chinese Masters. Shambhala.

Seek Berried Treasure. To experiment and excavate your soul try lifting the manhole cover and enter the subterranean world of your psyche.

Lemurian Garden

Trendle Ellwood's Lemurian garden has been ablaze with colour, warming the souls of those of us in the southern hemisphere, where the skies are gray and ice cold winds are sweeping in from the Antarctic. Walk through the blue gate and visit a Secret Lemurian garden. Enjoy the simple beauty of this place, meditate upon the blooms and consider Monet's comment that "more that anything I must have flowers, always, always."

A word from the Tenth Muse.

(It is the Muses)
who have bought me honour
through the gift of their art

Sappho's words are a timely reminder to offer a hymn to the muse who so generously bestows her gifts. You can add to the Muse Hymn Box here at The Soul Food Cafe.

Manhole Cover Project

Manhole covers have intrigued me for some time. The notion of our inner world being beneath a manhole cover is one way of explaining why some of us are reluctant to enter an inner world. Some of us may be prevented from doing this because the manhole cover is so tightly fitted, so heavy, that we quite simply cannot go within.

What is impeding your inner work? What does your manhole cover look like? Check out these manholes for some ideas.

What is behind your manhole cover? How does the symbol of a manhole cover resonate for you? How does it help you understand your writing life? How can it help you contain your inner work? Draw the manhole that shields your inner world in your visual journal and write about it.

Manhole Cover Sites
Manhole Cover Quilts
Manhole Covers etc.
Artist Designed Manhole Covers
Govind Steel - Manhole Covers
Insulator Manhole Covers
Manhole Covers of the World
Manhole Covers

Manhole Covers of London
Society for Preservation of MHC
Sewers of the World Unite

June - July 2003

Featured Writing Exercise

Since I learned that my husband has recurrent bowel cancer I confess that I have been looking at the world with an altered perspective. It doesn't actually take anything as dramatic as this to change your view.

When I asked my Year 12 class to make Dame Edna glasses they had a lot of fun. We set up in the art room and used bright paint, glitter and feathers. Then we walked around the school wearing our glasses to see if it looked different. Upon return some class members expressed a desire to take cans of paint and splash colourful paint everywhere.

Read about Dame Edna Everidge and make yourself a pair of glasses like she might wear. Take a wacky walk and then write from a fresh perspective. I am trying to do this in my journal, Ways of Seeing, here at Soul Food.

Featured Artists:

The Art of Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

Where does her art come from?

My own Chinese background, through that of Roma, Celtic, Greek, Roman, and Indian to name a few. I have been interested in fantasy since I was eight when a friend introduced me to the world of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and for a long time, my art was just about creatures and figures from fantasy novels. Even now, much of it still comes from these sources, because I still enjoy it. But I slowly found myself moving away from strict fantasy in both literature and my art, and into the realms before and beyond "fantasy", which is mythology and folklore.

Tales in mythology and folklore stem from emotions, needs, desires, hopes, and beliefs that have survived through time, for thousands of years, across hundreds of cultures. These things are part of the essence of being alive, and of being human. There is something in these tales that makes people hold on to them, even without need of words on paper, but simple word of mouth. And so it is these images that I try to capture with my paintings.

In addition to mythology though, the other aspect of my art is the concept of "sacredness". I remember in an art class I once took, the lecturer was telling of a trip of his to Africa. He had stayed among tribes. One day, one of the men took him out and pointed to a lake, far in the distance. "That is a sacred lake," he was told. And he spoke to us in that lecture hall about how little in our world today is truly sacred any longer. The reverence that African held for the lake, the wonder, and absolute belief he held.

It is that sense which I try the most to convey with my work, a sense of wonder for things within the human experience that somehow sit upon the edges of our consciousness. Things that are hoped for, or perhaps only half remembered. Things that could be, if one were to look on the world and think and live with a different mindset that could see all the possibilities and wonders in this life.

I suppose that is why I also get asked quite often whether I am a pagan. The answer to that is no, but there is something on a spiritual level in my mind when I paint. It is something that is independant of religion however.

Aside from all that though...there is the part of me that just loves to draw and paint for its own sake. Forget meanings and high-minded interpretations...when it comes down to it, I just have a need to draw and create.

Mountain Tops of Lemuria

The wonderful oases of Lemuria was inspired by the writing of my maternal great grandfather, George Chale Watson, who sailed through Polynesia in the early 1870's on a schooner returning Kanaka islanders to their home. His book about this journey, The Mountain Tops of Lemuria provides fascinating insight into the region during that period. Make sure to read about Watson's extraordinary experience with the Custodian of the Seas. Many thanks to Dame Jane Resture who has kindly permitted me to use images from her collection.

Guided Imageries

Patrons will have been aware of the new collection based on my European Tour in 2003 which I periodically add to. These guided imageries provide an alternative travel diary.

Tholos Dreaming
Dodona Oak-tree
Portinucula Chapel Assisi
Paradise Found
Ancient Tree Wisdom
Glastonbury Tor
Chartres Cathedral - Labyrinth
Echoes of Past Master
The Sacred Way - Delphi

Apart from the new European collection you will find the Secret Lemurian Garden. This was inspired by the photographic skills of Trendle Ellwood who has been sharing her Lemurian Garden with patrons.