Artists' journey of discovery

IT has been said that two heads are better than one.

This has certainly been the case for artists Claire Skehan and Hil Van Dijk when it came to combining their artistic skills in their joint exhibition, Embracing the Angelic Realm, now showing at the Manning Regional Art Gallery.

"Working together and using shared minds created something bigger than one person," said Claire.

Described as a journey of discovery, of accepting and acknowledging a higher aspect beyond the individual consciousness, the range of works is a "smorgasbord", all linked and related to each other.

It all started with some original prints of Hil's from 10 years ago, which have now been revived into a variety of different works.

Claire used her graphic design background to plan and then used tools, including a scalpel, to create intricate cut-outs which have been used throughout.

From that starting point, the works evolved.

To allow their creativity to flow freely, Claire and Hil opened their hearts and minds and made "space" for it to come in.

"It's come from a higher being," said Hil.

"I believe angels are within everyone's consciousness," added Claire, which is where the overall theme for the exhibition began.

As well as added creative thoughts, working collaboratively has helped in times of difficulty.

Partway through the work titled, This is heaven, Claire's father died.

Hil pushed her to continue and in the end it was quite a therapeutic process to complete the collage on ply.

And while Claire and Hil say what they have created may not be another person's view of heaven, it is their interpretation as they see it.

Another section of their exhibition uses mixed media to demonstrate virtues including patience, grace, hope, charity, which Claire said are "meditative" pieces that are showcased in a present, tangible way.

Also included is a piece titled Mirror, Mirror, Namaste, which is mirrors framed with colours representing the seven chakras.

"It's about looking into the mirror and seeing the divine being," said Claire.

The showcase is a step away from their usual work, with Hil previously known for his painting (and as a finalist in last year's Blake Prize) and Claire's last exhibition more digital-based.

"It's good to have a bit of cutting edge stuff," said Hil about their collaborative work

Claire and Hil first started work on the pieces in October/November but did the majority of work throughout January.

The exhibition concludes this Sunday, April 6.

Part of the collection will be exhibited at the Glasshouse in Port Macquarie and the Downing Centre courts in Sydney later this year.

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