“The Lady of Shalott” by John William Waterhouse painted in 1888.
How beautiful is this artwork?
(Names are changed to protect the privacy of the consenting client)
The detail in this work is just divine.
And this was one of the main intentions by the painters of this time, was to paint in detail, showing their skill and mastery and to bring in story of legends, morals and ethics for consideration. In 1888, I’m sure John (artist), would’ve never of thought that his painting could be mass produced and shrunk to a smaller scale to be able to hung in someone’s living room.
These types of artworks were created at a time where mastery of art was the aim, where breaking of conformism and social constructs was the purpose of an art piece. This particular artist was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites (even though his work was decades after this school dispersed). He was inspired by their movement in which was predominantly focused on detail, nature, mythology, mood and atmosphere and of course, mastery. To be hung in galleries and commended on skill.
“The Lady of Shalott” also is ladened with symbolism and based on a Tennyson poem where a woman is cursed and escapes her tower, knowing that her fate will be death. The symbolism in this painting all pertains to her fate. There is a crucifix on the bow of the boat in which she stares over. There are three candles which represent life and light, two of which are extinguished and one is almost ready to blow out and the tapestry that she has brought with her that represents her time in captivity and her imprisoned life.
Though its her eyes and expression that tells the most of her heartache, yearning and surrendering to her fate.
This is an extremely emotive yet beautiful painting that portrays fear, death, loneliness, imprisonment and tragedy.
And it’s this image that sat in a client’s living room for many years.
Sue is a single woman, living alone and suffers from life long depression. She knows herself well enough to manage her depression, though sometimes can spiral and needs time alone to process and get back on track.
And this painting was one of the most prominent images that I felt needed to be addressed.
Sue loved this painting, she thought it was beautiful. She admired it for the colours, the detail and for everything that John William Waterhouse had painted it for. Though I also needed to question how it could be emotionally affecting her.
Sue knew on a conscious level the pain and hurt this woman held in her eyes, though hadn’t ever considered that this may also have triggered emotions for Sue as well.
Sue may have identified with this artwork, she may have resonated and empathised with the woman in the painting. Everyone will be attracted to a particular image or home, depending on what needs to become activated at that time, in order for it to be addressed. And for the time that Sue had this painting in her home, this may have been one of the catalysts that was needed for her to address those emotions that had been buried.
Though longterm, was it healthy to have this image consistently reminding Sue of her emotional pain? Was it time for her to let it go?
Art has a very powerful effect on you, on your psyche, emotions, energy and spirit. And symbolism dives deep into the collective subconscious and can tap into aspects of yourself without being consciously aware of it. And so being very selective and mindful of what you choose to display in your home, is very important.
Sue had discussed with me her long standing battle with depression and so I felt it necessary to suggest that Sue reconsider having this painting in her living room. Your living room is one of the most active rooms in your home and it’s where you usually spend most of your conscious and waking life especially when relaxing. And you don’t even need to be sitting and looking at a painting for it to have an effect on your subconscious, your brain already knows its there, it’s seen it many times and knows the detail of what energy it holds in your space. So imagine the messages Sue was receiving and integrating when she was intending to relax at home whilst having this artwork present in the room.
Sue was a little bit tentative to get rid of her artwork and so I suggested she take down the painting for a period of time and see if it made a difference to her mindset. The beauty of practicing Feng Shui is that you can experiment. Sue packed up her painting and stored it in her spare room for a few months. And then, with some sadness, decided to eventually get rid of the painting altogether.
After some months, I spoke to Sue who had purchased a new artwork, which she now has hanging over her dining table. Sue has named her Foxy Loxy.
Sue’s connection to this painting is something she hadn’t considered was possible.
These are just some of the comments Sue made about this new painting and the energy it provides her.
“Whenever I look at it, it just lifts me up. I feel lighter”
“I often think, if there is a house fire, it will be one of the first things I would take to save”
“I could look into her eye’s all day”
“I say good morning and good night to her every day”
It’s obvious that this artwork is positively uplifting Sue’s spirits, it seems to bring a light heartedness to her and her space. The difference in the interaction with the artwork is so contrasting compared to “The Lady of Shalott”.
Reflecting back over the process, Sue said she found it difficult to let go of a painting she loved, even though she knew it was a sad depiction of a tragic tale. Though when she compares it to her new painting of Foxy Loxy her tone in her voice changes, she sounds lighter, happier and connected to something that only she shares with the Fox. Her connection on a daily basis with her painting is much more intimate and uplifting and as she said, will be one of the first things she would save if ever there was a fire.
The symbolism of the Fox is also one that helps you to move around obstacles, tackle problems head on and find different ways to solve dilemmas. The fox is also regarded as being very clever, determined and adaptable. Positive qualities Sue can tap into when she is connecting with Foxy Loxy.
What artwork have you got hanging in your home?
How does it make you feel, or what does it trigger for you?
Sometimes it’s not until you sit down and write out a list that you realised that you have feeling, thoughts or perceptions of an artwork that are sitting there in the back of your mind but you have never voiced them or outed them. Is it time that you reevaluate the art you have in your home?
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