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fourth exhibition:
Shambhala at Shambellie

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Animus artists

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third show:
Alban Arthan

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second show:
Harvest Moon

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first show:
Cherish the Extraordinary Crystallizing Summer

The fourth Animus ~ Art for the World Soul exhibition, Shambhala at Shambellie’,
was held at Shambellie House, New Abbey, Dumfries & Galloway, from August 17th ~ 29th 2017.

Participating artists were:

Ben Fosker (ceramics),
Catkin Van Hoppe (watercolour),
Fergus Hall (gouache),
Jennie Ashmore (leafworks)
Martin Wilson (slate)
Shen Chökyi (illuminations)
and Trevor Leat (willow)
Hein Braat also provided the potent mantas
which played for the duration of the show.

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'Song of Shambhala' by Nicholas Roerich, an artist and visionary whose search for Shambhala could be said to have formed the governing focus of his life.

According to legend, a sacred and mystical land known as Shambhala is hidden deep in the Himalayas, accessible only to those sincere of intent and pure of heart.
This fabled kingdom of peace and wisdom formed the inspiration for some of the artwork in the exhibition.
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Shambellie House (above) is a fairytale-like mansion designed by renowned Victorian architect David Bryce in a romantic Scottish style, set in a beautifully shambolic wild garden South of Dumfries...and, until recently, the National Museum of Costume.

It’s easy to get the impression from many stately homes is that life there must have been a bit staid, an impression confounded by a poem by the Scottish painter Francis Cadell which John Stewart, whose grandfather lived at Shambellie, showed me in ‘Cadell - A Scottish Colourist’ by Tom Hewlett. The house was one of Cadell’s favourite places to stay, where he was known as ‘Uncle Bunty’ by the youngsters there. He wrote a poem for them in the 1920’s, which begins:
Beware! Beware the kitchen stair,
For there the goblins make their lair
The ghosts you meet will raise your hair.
Beware! Beware!
After much gruesome imagery (which I can’t help thinking must have secretly terrified some of the children it was meant to delight) the poem ends:
Moral. Avoid this mansion strange
However much you need a change
It’s full of pestilence and mange
A Bloated Grange.

I also did my part to terrify small people at Shambellie during my time there; ‘my’ room was dark apart from illuminated glass, and resonant with the deep and sonorous sounds of mantras sung by Hein Braat...and two cheerful village lads from the village who turned up on their bikes asked me to go in with them as it looked so scary :)

One of the pieces inside was Journey Through the Holy Mountains; a small cast glass figure in a boat dwarfed by a range of towering wooden-slab peaks, here getting prepared at Rennaldburn:

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The Shambellie House of Cadell's poem ~ gently mouldering at the edges as it is after some time of not being lived in ~ is far from pestilential.

It manages to be grand in an utterly unpretentious way, its fairytale towers and turrets, crow-stepped gables and wind-vane half submerged by the surrounding abundant vegetation giving it a homely and intimate feel.

I have the same affection for it as I might for an eccentric but endearing relative, and it felt a privilege to make my home here, in the daytime at least, for two weeks. To see the changing view of the gardens out of the permanently shaded windows (UV filters still remained on all the panes after its museum days). To run down the imposing stairs...and, as a little offering the the spirit of the house, paint back on the patches of finely detailed William Morris-style wallpaper ripped off by signs for a previous exhibition in the Red Room. (John explained that this room could be identified as the Mens room due to its black fireplace. The neighbouring cream room was the Ladies room...and the dark green room, with its grey fireplace, was where they came together.)

Although the footfall was not vast, those intrepid visitors who managed to find Shambellie in its overgrown hideaway were hearteningly appreciative of the collective fusion of artists and mediums ~ and the soulful synthesis which comes about when they’re combined: the ‘ability to take you to another world’ guest put it.
Here’s a five-minute video to give you a sense of that otherworldly synthesis…
...which also takes you on a speedy tour of Shambellie’s outer environs, slowing down to enjoy how nature has reclaimed a previous monumental sculpture of Trevor Leat’s, which used to look like this...

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(Whirling Dervish: photo © Trevor Leat)

...and now looks like this!
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And here’s a two-minute video to give you a feel of the popular Leafworkshop Jennie Ashmore ran as part of the exhibition:

So many guests commented that visiting the exhibition left them feeling personally inspired to create some artwork themselves, that I set up a table with art materials in the top gallery. I enjoyed going up there each day and seeing new sketches (and origami :) begin to appear, left as a gift to the space. Here's my favourite ~ inverted, as I like doing that with images to reveal their hidden side :)

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In a broad sense, ‘a gift to the space’ could encapsulate the intent of Animus ~ Art for the World Soul as a whole.

A tapping in to the ancient understanding of art as offering to, and revealer of, those invisible sacred realms which underpin existence...with the understanding that this spaciousness permeates, as well as enfolds us.

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© shen chökyi 2013