Thoughts & inspiration behind the work.

Wailing Wall from my trip in 80’s. Had I realised back then that it would be such an inspiration for my work, I would have taken a better picture. A good excuse to return though.

Wailing Wall from my trip in 80’s. Had I realised back then that it would be such an inspiration for my work, I would have taken a better picture. A good excuse to return though.

 

If you’ve been following my creative endeavours for a while, you will know that I was very inspired by a visit to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. It was a looong time ago, but the power and importance that people placed here has stayed with me. The act of writing wishes & prayers on paper and leaving them between the huge stones of the wall is specific to this religious site but the world over humans have constructed similar rituals to connect with a higher power. For example, ‘Ema’ are votive tablets left at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan, at Burning Man events you will find wicker structures onto which people pin personal messages before a final burning ritual. It is something we have done for years, it has history and tells stories. Below are some rather fancy silver votives from early 1900’s that are at Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford (One of my favourite museums). So, I’ve been thinking about this a bit deeper, it’s not the actual wall or the religion that captured me but the human behaviour surrounding it.

It’s the cathartic rituals that we create in order to make sense of our lives or to bring them greater meaning that really interest me. Many of us look to some sort of higher power to ask for help or strength in times of trouble. It helps us feel better for sharing our problems but also to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. Followers of organised religions have Gods, others look to nature and spiritual energies of the earth. While one person is praying on their knees, somewhere else another will be cleansing their space with smoking sage. Are both rituals not just for the same end - to purge negativity and make way for hope?

 

These rituals help us feel less alone with our troubles and paradoxically we feel more in control by giving things over to a higher power. I wonder if that is because we feel like we’ve at least done something in a powerless situation?

Perhaps it’s something to do with the collective focus of a community of people that also helps diminish our worries & fears. Undertaking rituals as a group makes us feel less alone. We don’t look for proof that these practices actual work because they make us feel better just for doing them, regardless of efficacy. As humans our emotions and beliefs are powerful drivers which shape much of who we are and how we live.

We’re a fascinating species, aren’t we?

I have begun exploring some of these themes in my new sculptures. Ideas of purging our emotions at a specific site or ritual. I am currently working on developing the theme of ‘Emotions’ by investigating them through form. What would our emotions look like in 3D? What colour would they be?

If you would like to see what I’m up to with this then please follow my sculptures account on Instagram for all the updates & behind the scenes developments. DianeGriffinArt

Votive Offerings on display at Pitt Rivers Museum. A votive offering refers to objects left by worshippers at religious sites to fulfil a promise made to god when a wish or favour was requested. The form of the object often represented the nature of the favour eg. if the devotee was suffering from an illness related to a body part, the votive offering would represent that body part.

Votive Offerings on display at Pitt Rivers Museum. A votive offering refers to objects left by worshippers at religious sites to fulfil a promise made to god when a wish or favour was requested. The form of the object often represented the nature of the favour eg. if the devotee was suffering from an illness related to a body part, the votive offering would represent that body part.

Diane Griffin