Alchemy & Lego: Connecting to the Unknown
- Words by
- Phillippa Carnemolla
- Images by
- Georgina Reid
I used to have this childlike daydream; I was transfixed by the idea that everything is connected, even across time. In fact I would often wonder about whether a carbon atom in my body was once part of a person hundreds or thousands of years ago, or inside a dinosaur or a meteor or a medieval rose. To think that once one of my atoms might have been in the core of a meteor brought up mindboggling new daydreams of transmutations, of plant and animal and celestial connectedness and of once being on the other side of the universe.
It was after a period of grief and facing my greatest fear that I started to make and celebrate geometry. I think I was trying to find ways of connecting across domains, across planes, across worlds. I was trying to find a bridge across my feelings of loss to hear a message – because somehow I felt that everything was still there, I just couldn’t make it conscious or real. In the sadder, still times of my grief and fear everything and everyone seemed so far away. I found myself in an isolated abyss and in an effort to overcome the isolation I hunted connection with vengeance.
Incredibly, I heard and saw new things, and my creative journey began into the geometry of nature and the connectedness of us all. The most important message that arose from my epiphanies of sensitivity to geometric form is encapsulated by an ancient geometry found in the cultures of many civilisations, the Visica Pisci. The Vesica Piscis is a simple drawing of two circles passing through the other’s centre (see image below) and it represents the all in one and the one in all. It is like the Rumi quote; “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” It resonated and got me started on the path. I was extremely sensitive to nature and its energy and form, its sacred form. One day I looked up into a fully laden pine tree in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and I swear I saw beating hearts where there were once pine cones. It was a message that crystallised my thoughts on the connectedness across animal, botanical, mineral and celestial realms.
How do the animal, mineral, celestial and botanical worlds interact and transmute? Well, this clearly cannot be answered in 1000 words, in fact I think it cannot be answered clearly at all. But as I embarked on my creative journeys, including my time as Artist in Residence at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, geometric languages of connectedness kept surfacing.
In words from Rudolph Steiner’s Lecture Series from 1906;
The minerals are plants which have degenerated; the plants are the remnants of animal life; animals and man (his physical body) have a common ancestor. Man has ascended, the animal has descended.
This process referred to as the ascension was a moving through of the mineral plant and animal worlds. I realised too that there are also dynamic real time interactions across these domains. We exhale carbon dioxide, the plants use the carbon dioxide and make oxygen. Minerals are made from old plants, plants grow from animal detritus, animals eat and utilise plants. It is never that simple and we haven’t even mentioned the influence of the planets; the celestial impacts all of these interactions even further.
The “mineral to plant to animal to man” ascension feels very straightforward in terms of power – who isn’t thrilled by the drama when our natural world throws exceptions at us, like the fungi types that zombify witchety grubs and ants, or a tree formation that grows from silver (Diana’s tree) or lead (Saturn’s tree). These examples are both alchemic and unexpected and so are powerful symbols of connections across all life.
I approach my work in a dichotic way, one that I feel is very human. Sometimes I search for knowledge with scientific rigour with frameworks and data and evidence, other times I work with a blind, heartfelt intuition.
Both feed me and both come together to create a narrative that celebrates the known and the scintillating unknown about the world/s that we live in. This is what I hope my jewellery gives those who wear my work – the knowledge of so much wonderfully unknown anchored in the wondrous world that we DO know.
The stacking rings pictured were made as a celebration of connections. They include a pinecone, banksia wreath, bee, sun and reunion geometry. Using the bees as a (somewhat obvious) example, some of my earlier felt works explored the interactions between animal, plant, mineral and celestial as a chakra-like map. Bees are of course influenced by all that is celestial, as are the plants, and you can imagine my delight when I found scientific evidence that the lunar cycle plays a role in the worker-bees’ chemistry, nutrition and habits* but in truth, I am simply not surprised.