“The beginning of knowledge is the discovery
of something we do not understand.”
Frank Herbert American science fiction author best known for the 1965 novel
Dune and its five sequels. 1920-1986
I am part of a group of four women collectively known as MAS (the Mutual Admiration Society0. We four women share several interests although of course we each have our own particular interests. One is into antiques collecting and discussing them; one is a fabulous cook, spending her time checking and devising recipes; one is a keen golfer and bridge player, while as you know, I dabble at witing, and devising and running courses. And so where did the idea for MAS come from?
Well of course it is not original to us. In 1912 a group of friends at Somerville College, Oxford set up a literary society of women and called it MAS. Its members included Dorothy L. Sayers, Muriel St Clare Byrne, Charis Frankenburg, Dorothy Rowe, and Amphilis Throckmorton Middlemore, among others
While the members of our MAS meet regularly, at least once a month we have a special meeting, outing or reason to get together. January’s choice was “The Secret Paintings of Hilma af Klint” And we went to see he exhibition yesterday, Wednesday. We are told “The Secret Paintings is one of the most important exhibitions ever staged in New Zealand. It is presented with the cooperation of the Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm, and in association with Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.” Do you know this artist? Neither did I.
She was a Swedish artist (1862-1944) described as “a pioneer of abstract art, but for many years her paintings were kept hidden from the public” In fact it was her wish that her paintings should remain hidden and secret for at least 20 years after her death.
She had her own MAS. In 1895 she joined with four female friends to form a spiritual group they called The Five. “They met regularly to commune with spiritual beings through prayer and meditation.”
Klint assumed that there was a spiritual dimension to life and aimed at visualizing contexts beyond what the eye can see. When painting, she believed that she was in contact with a higher consciousness that spoke and conveyed messages through her. Like many of her contemporaries, she was influenced by spiritual movements, especially spiritualism, theosophy and later anthroposophy. Through her paintings, she sought to understand and communicate the various dimensions of human existence.
In 1906 she began a decade long project The Paintings for the Temple with Primordial Chaos. These ten are huge paintings meant to fill a room.
This is my favourite of the ten, but I’m not convinced that even if I had the room, I would hang it in my house.
So a morning well spent. However, I was left feeling rather confused. This artist moved from abstract paintings, the like of which we may have said “my grandchild could do that” through birds and animals to finally arrive at Primordial Chaos. I am not sure that I will go back for a second look.