The Numinous: the phrase itself is mysterious, suggesting a depth and breadth that cannot be measured in normal terms. It’s a word that commands your individual response to the experience it describes.
Contact with the Numinous: the spectacular and unforgettable experience of being in direct contact with the forces of both creation and destruction. A privately powerful experience, one that confirms mortality while at the same time pointing towards the infinite. Time is big and small at once; individual and collective exist within each other.
The word originates from the Latin for “divine presence”, numen, with the verb nuene, “to beckon”. The Divine beckons. It is also a word well suited to the sense of pure wonder that can be experienced by people of any culture, background and religious tradition. It describes an overwhelming sense of awe at an incoming power; it comes over and through us. Some numinous experiences can be terrifying, like sensing the enormity of the abyss, while others are ecstatic, as though the whole world is dripping with gold and light.
So I have been looking for it.
And I find it in landscapes. Not always, and definitely not reliably. But I keep on looking, specifically for a way to translate, interpret and record this ineffable, wordless experience. I find the Numinous most accessible when alone in a vast, open, natural space, with the scars of time shaping the ground and the eyeless sky glaring down upon me in my smallness. This faceless, unknowable power; it scares and thrills me so I want nothing else; it threatens to obliterate or offers to heal. It gives meaning and it takes it away.
I use strong contrasts of black and white to emphasize the extremes of the experience. Extreme because it’s so different to everyday waking life, like a light bursting through the dark, and also because of the potential for apparently opposite emotions to arise: fear or love, hope or despair.
So the exhibition at RAMM is a record of an ongoing journey, glimpses into moments that represent the fullness and the emptiness between the spaces that join us all together. Life, its wildness, and our beautiful, fragile planet Earth.
Thanks to: Carmen Marin, RAMM, Mark Carter, Margaret Dawkins, Calmar Framing, Sylvan La, Louise Page, and all the people whose contributions to the journey made it possible.