Last week I finished my latest miniature project called ‘My Secret Garden.’ For the project, I transformed the interior of a book box into a mini garden using a range of materials. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was my inspiration. While making the book garden, I reflected on the magic of art and how it can help us leap towards our dreams. I share some of my thoughts in this post.
Longing for a secret garden
In The Secret Garden, Mary comes alive again after she discovers a secret garden on her uncle’s estate. She had recently become an orphan and felt unwanted and unloved. Mary’s story echoes some parts of my own. In my life, I too have experienced grief and loss and at times, I confess that I haven’t always felt safe and cared for. While I live in a rental in suburbia, I dream of one day having my own secret garden. Slowly, I work towards this dream. Starting a potted garden was one step I have taken. But at times, I become despondent; it feels like my dream will never come too. In these moments, my imagination helps me keep it alive. There, in the garden of my dreams, I can rest.
The magic of art
Art can help visualise our dreams. I learnt this magical lesson as a teenager. I once intuitively drew a simple-looking house with coloured pencils. It wasn’t a place I knew. All the homes in my neighbourhood were made of brick or concrete and the house I drew had a reddish brown coloured exterior. After I finished it, I put it away, unsure of why I had felt so compelled to draw it. Then, several years later, I arrived in Tasmania to live with my mother and sister. My mother was looking for a new start in a quiet area, after battling with chronic illness for almost a decade. She was also looking for acreage, where she could establish a veggie patch. Our search came to an end when we found a small house built of western red cedar. Years later, I found my drawing and saw similarities between my imaginary house and my mother’s home.
There, I lived at this place for the next two and half years. Almost every day, I helped my mum build her garden. We planted potatoes, spinach, tomatoes and lettuce, apples, pears and roses. This sanctuary, nestled into the base of a hill, was my mother’s final sanctuary. She sadly died just three years after we moved in.
Miniatures as a prayer
As I cut the foliage for my miniature garden, I remembered this experience. I felt this memory came to me a reminder that when we make art, we tap into our imagination and intuition. Now, having finished my little garden, the dream of having my own garden is more vivid – and somehow, more tangible.
There is great power in miniature-making. The process can gift me much joy, while helping me build confidence. But it is also magical. In the Central Andes, where I conducted research for over a decade, miniatures are made for various reasons. Spiritual leaders often use them on altars (mesas), Some maestros also call their mesas ‘medicine bundles’ (see Wilcox, 2004,184). Mesas commonly include objects, such as stones, crystals, small figurines and other symbols. These represent one’s personal power. The maestros teach that these objects are connected to the living energies of the cosmos (Wilcox, 2004, 199). So, one might say that the miniatures are alive.
Inspired by Andean practices, I now see my miniatures as a living prayer. A prayer is a heartfelt request for connection with whatever you believe represents the source. Through prayer, we open our hearts and share our thoughts, our fears, and wishes.
So, as a way of bringing this post to an end, I invite you to allow your spirit to dance as you create. You are magical. You possess a wonderful gift: your imagination. Allow it to animate your creations. Most importantly, try not to create with assumptions or expectations. Let go of the outcome and then just be curious. You never know what may happen next.
Have you also read The Secret Garden?
I’d love to what you thought of the book. Please share with me in the comments or write to me.
The book is now available from Amazon in various formats.
Wilcox, Joan Parisi 2004. Masters of the Living Energy. The Mystical world of the Q’ero of Peru, US: Inner Traditions.
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