Meg Viney : Sipapu Exhibition

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16 January to 19 February 2018

Opening 28 January 2018 (2 pm to 4 pm). All welcome.


Meg Viney-02In Native American culture, the sacred and the secular are closely linked – one informs the other. Most Native American tongues have no word for art as an independent concept – there exists a high level of unconscious affinity with Nature.

The Hopi Indians believed that they were underground dwellers, and were ‘born’ when a Shrike (bird with sharp beak) pecked a hole in the earth’s surface and they were able to emerge.

It is understandable that they lived in kivas, underground dwellings which were lit by fire. In time, they also created above ground dwellings. However, the shaman (spiritual leader) remained in the kiva. A tribesperson wishing to see the shaman would descend though this hole which, due to the fire, was smoke-filled. The descent through this SIPAPU symbolized the transition from the secular to the sacred world. And emergence symbolized a new life.

The Sipapu became, for me, a wonderful symbol for containment, a concept central to my work. One is held and nurtured, close to Nature.

‘Native American art celebrates the continuity of a land mass and man’s absorption of its features…. By subtly altering, decorating, formalizing nature’s materials, the perception of the quality and role of plant or animal life as man’s spiritual accompaniment is enhanced … the art evokes a living treasure: nature. Its aesthetic draws us close to the earth.’

The first time I created a Sipapu was in the 1980’s. Over the ensuing years, I have dipped into this form in one way or another. It is now time to express it as an installation, with multiple media and a variety of scale.

I have also been influenced by Japanese culture, with the belief that all materials have an essence, which it is the artist’s task to bring, in almost a meditative way, into existence, akin to a midwife ensuring the safe emergence of a child.

Shibori is the Japanese art of dyeing with a traditional Indigo bath, achieving pattern and design via a variety of techniques, with the attendant ‘accidental’ changes that are an integral part of Shibori.

Whilst these two cultures are very different, both have a strong affinity with Nature, treating it with a certain reverence that captivates my aesthetic sensibility.

Meg Viney-Bell



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