The work was inspired by the Japanese symbol ensō (circle) that holds an important place in Zen Buddhist tradition. Painted in one brush stroke, with no possibility of further modification, ensō shows the expressive movement of the spirit at that particular moment. It is believed by Zen Buddhists that the character of the artist is fully exposed in how she or he draws an ensō.
The film shows Alma Studholme engaged in the process of making a ceramic version of an ensō. Attracted to the sense of movement created by a quick brushstroke she aimed to recreate a similar kind of energy and movement in a ceramic form. The result is a unique sculpture that can never be replicated because of the number of chance occurrences during the casting process. In this way the Zen Buddhist aesthetic that embraces chance was respected and maintained.
Mandala Project, Multimedia Installation
Porcelain pieces of Firing Ensō sculpture,
raked salt, performance video,
Youngdong Kim's video of
Alma's brainwaves during meditation.
The Mandala Project is based on the broken pieces of the Ensō porcelain sculpture featured in the Verge Gallery's 2015 group exhibition "Accreation: Un-becoming and the Surface as Sight". The broken sculpture takes a central position in the installation which is a collaborative project with Youngdong Kim. Kim's EEG recording of Alma Studholme's brainwaves during meditation shows them transformed into Buddhist mandala patterns that are "broken" at certain intervals by distractions. The ontological states of being fragmented and being whole are explored in visual links between a circle and a single point of focus. Both the raking-performance and the salt-mandala reference the Zen Buddhist gardening practice and aesthetic.
Firing Ensō, Ensō Ink Drawing by A. Studholme
Firing Ensō Performance
Ensō, Porcelain, 53x11cm
Salt Mandala, photo by Brett Studholme
Mandala Project Installation, photo by Brett Studholme
A. Studholme's brainwaves during meditation. Stills from video by Youngdong Kim.