clarice beckett—the present moment (art gallery of south australia 2021)
Among Clarice Beckett's most treasured books was her copy of H.P. Blavatsky's The Voice of the Silence. The artist's interest in spiritualism, and in the spiritual, led her to attend lectures on Theosophy held in Melbourne at the turn of the twentieth century, including the lectures by Annie Besant, the second President of the Theosophical Society, on her tour of Australia. The liminal qualities of the early dawn, of twilight, and the bleached out noon of the Australian summer are prominent in the 156 or so paintings currently on exhibition in Adelaide.
Beckett was in the habit of taking long walks in the pre-dawn, arising at 4am to wander to her favourite spots for painting and contemplating. This coincides with the period identified as Brahma Muhurta in the Veda-s: the most auspicious time of day for meditation, being the two period of 48 minutes before sunrise. A time of day in which the soul is naturally more attuned to the voice of the true Self. The art of Clarice Beckett is as though saturated with that silence, and the infinite possibilities it contains.
The Art of Seeing—Through the Eyes of Clarice Beckett
In her article, Olga Gostin thoughtfully considers not only the work of the artist, but also, the art of seeing:
As the pall of nationwide lock-downs lifts from our nation, it seems extraordinarily fortuitous that the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) has opened an exhibition of the works of Clarice Beckett that invites us to refine the art of seeing. And not only seeing, but doing so in a context of inner stillness and wonderment at the innate beauty of the present moment captured in the simple, the mundane, the very ordinary.
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