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Pathways Art  - Moira Pagan

I have attempted below to give some idea of the thoughts behind the paintings as they developed, as well as ideas arising afterwards on what they mean to me. Tomorrow they could mean something else and to another person something different again.

The paintings here are all linked by aspects of a spiritual journey into the Unknown. They were shown together in a 'Pathways' exhibition in November 2009.

The three paintings called Offering Bowl relate to the offering bowl which is one of the few possessions a Buddhist monk will own.  Traditionally he or she survived on the gifts of food given by lay people and the monk would have to eat whatever was offered without judgment or choice but to accept all in gratitude as gifts in order to enable them to live and therefore to train spiritually.

The above can also symbolize our willingness to accept whatever arises in meditation without grasping, judging or searching.

The sense of movement towards the light is often recognized as part of a spiritual journey but the dark areas can often be perceived as something 'bad' and the light parts as something 'good'. It can also feel more comfortable to stay in a dark place rather than walk forward into the light. Whenever there is a pull in one direction or other there is a sense of unease. In my paintings the underlying textures and lines of melted wax cross both light and dark areas and can be seen to represent something which does not differentiate between the two but which just is there.

In the dark areas there are colours and gold leaf, which again hint at the spiritual potential within the darkness.

The bullet-shaped figure which has emerged in many of these paintings  represent neither male

nor   female, young or old and are a symbol of that which goes beyond the personal. The gold leaf texture of these beings represents that which is unchanging within us all.​ 

There are visual references to the perspective devices used in the paintings of the Mediaeval Italian masters which were my first introduction to sublime artworks in the cathedrals of Ravenna, Siena and Florence.

Coming out of the dark into wide landscapes may provide a sense of freedom and openness but it seems that much of the time we can find ourselves in a perfect situation with no apparent problems and yet we are still locked in by our own perceptions of ourselves that we have built up, perhaps over lifetimes. The figures imprisoned in red boxes or crouched in corners or stuck into a wall represent those parts of ourselves which may hide from view or who still believe we cannot be free to drop this Self we have created.

In the 'There Are No Obstacles' paintings there is the hope that the clear direct path to the ultimate freedom of being at peace wherever we are, in whatever situation we find ourselves, is possible and something we can have right now  were we to allow the bars and resistance of Self to fall away.

This quote is taken from:
'Constantly I am at the Ryozen meeting throughout endless ages:
Even should there be a great fire, my heart is always calm and safe and filled with angels'
This is a quote from a collection of Buddhist writings called The Denkoroku: The First Ancestor Makakashyo (from Zen is Eternal Life by Roshi Jiyu-Kennett 1987 edition)


Whilst I may sometimes feel alone in this journey which is Life there is always help around and within me. This help is represented in the paintings by figures, which stand either side of a pathway or who go in front or behind. They may sometimes seem to be frightening, or loom like giants, or tiny and almost imperceptible but they appear in whatever form is needed. It is a personal choice whether to notice them or not. 


Pathways  - Moira Pagan

Guardian Kings

Mixed media, 380mm x 760mm  


Gateway 3

Mixed media, 380mm x 760mm

$ 590 

Offering Bowl 2

Mixed media, 380mm x 760mm


Mountains of the Mind

Mixed media, 915mm x 610mm


Offering Bowl 3

Mixed media, 380mm x 760mm

$ 650 


Mixed media, 510mm x 510mm


Those Who Have Gone Before

Mixed media, 380mm x 760mm

$ 590 

The Canoe Without Oars 

Mixed media, 310mm x 915mm



There Are No Obstacles 2

Mixed media, 915mm x 610mm

$ 750 

My Heart is Always Calm and Safe 2

Mixed media, 305mm x 760mm


Gateway 1

Mixed media, 380mm x 760mm

$ 590 

My Heart is Always Calm and Safe 1

Mixed media, 305mm x 610mm

$ 490 

There Are No Obstacles 1

Mixed media, 915mm x 610mm


Offering Bowl 1

Mixed media, 380mm x 760mm


Gateway 2

Mixed media, 380mm x 760mm



Mixed media, 1015mm x 760mm  


Artist Notes Gateway and Pathways Series

Gateway 1   Mixed Media 380mms x 760mms h $590

This Symbolises the journey towards the light and the figure shape is pared down to the minimum to suggest neither male nor female, young nor old. The shape of the doorway reflects the shape of the figure as well as referencing church architecture. There may be a suggestion that the doorway itself beckons the figure onwards as well as the ‘wings’ of feint light which appear either side of the gateway.

Gateway 2  Mixed Media 380mms x 760 mms h $590
This Gateway painting has three tiers and the figure appears near, far and approaches the light yet is already in the light.

There are memories too of the phrase taken from John 14:2 King James’s Bible
'In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Gateway 3  Mixed Media 38cms x 76cms h $590
The journey within oneself can be difficult but there are helpers on the way who stand beside us or who walk with us even though we may not be aware of them. They wish us to find peace and self worth.

Offering Bowl 1 mixed media 380mms x 760mm sold
The Offering bowl is one of the few possessions a Buddhist monk would own and he or she would traditionally live by accepting whatever food the local people would give them as their daily meal. It also symbolises our willingness to accept whatever we receive in life without judging, grasping or resisting. The light/food or spiritual gifts which ‘pour’ into this bowl has no beginning or ending – we can’t see the bottom of the bowl. It is limitless.

Offering Bowl 2 mixed media 380mms x 760mm  &650
As in Offering Bowl 1, the bowl form accepts whatever is poured into it – and from this angle we can’t see into the bowl, which seems suspended and supported by other forces. The textures forms and colours, which appear, represent the rich experience of living and the light within the darkness.

Offering Bowl 3 mixed media 380mms x 760mm $650
Sometimes our lives seem to be full of challenges and we may find that our way is full of lumps and bumps and difficulties. But all is held within the offering bowl and dissolves into it eventually. Our unresolved Karma may arise like volcanic larva flow or feel solid like these floating rocks but all will eventually become transformed into a ‘cool and silver lake’.

Mountains of the Mind mixed media 915mm x 610 mm  SOLD
Our journey towards finding our own true selves may seem impossible at times and the way ahead too difficult with Mountains impossible to climb or rivers never to be crossed. However we may be surprised to know that the way ahead is actually clear and one step at a time is enough to take us to our destination. We may feel very alone in this journey at times and unable to see that the very mountains and rivers and pathways call us home and open the way for us.

Those Who Have Gone Before -mixed media 380mm x 760 mm $590
Those who have followed spiritual paths before us lead the way with their example and their writings as well as their encouragement. We literally follow in their footsteps. The structures in this painting represent the structure that a spiritual practice can give us and provide ‘bridges’ to our innate understanding which has perhaps been there always and at all times.

There Are no Obstacles 1 mixed media 915mm x 610mm  $750
The landscape of our life can reveal our fears and resistance, which can halt our progress if we let ourselves remain ‘locked’ in  self -made prisons of doubt. The way up the impossible mountain is there and the path opens up and guides us out of our limitations into the Eternal light.

There Are no Obstacles 2 mixed media 915mm x 610mm  $750
New Zealand’s volcanic landscape has its own symbolism in how eruption and havoc can explode from the land causing mayhem and devastation but when it has cooled down - a new land is provided which is rich in fertile soil and beautiful in form and shape – so can this be for events which cause devastation and loss for us in this life. Grief and despair can result in us realising new strengths and finding new directions.

My Heart is always Calm and Safe 1 and 2 Mixed Media, 305mm x 610 mm $ 490 each
This quote is taken from:
'Constantly I am at the Ryozen meeting throughout endless ages:
Even should there be a great fire, my heart is always calm and safe and filled with angels'
This is a quote from a collection of Buddhist writings called The Denkoroku: The First Ancestor Makakashyo (from Zen is Eternal Life by Roshi Jiyu-Kennett 1987 edition)

Guardian Kings mixed media 380mm x 760mm $590
This painting reminds me of a time when I was a young mum and I had to go to a difficult meeting with someone who was spreading incorrect rumours about me. I wanted to face her and ask what I was doing to upset her. I was very nervous about this meeting and sat and asked for help in meditation.

On my way to the meeting I sensed two enormous presences walking either side of me like giants.

Unresolved - mixed media 1015mm x 760mm SOLD
This painting represents the Spiritual Path which is always clear ahead On the way we discover parts of ourselves which wish to be revealed to us and accepted by us. Sometimes these shadows may hide in corners or seem to be imprisoned within the illusion of ‘Self’’
We need to trust that all will eventually be seen and stand within the light as pure and undefiled and free of all obstructions. Within the shadows are also helpers who wish us well and encourage us despite our fears.

Pathway - mixed media 510mm x 510mm $550
Based on a bushwalk experience of walking amongst dark tall trees and seeing the boardwalk snaking into the forest – again it seems that however dark and unfriendly the walk may feel – there are those hidden presences who watch over us and help us on our way even though we may sometimes feel the opposite is true. They may appear frightening and unknown. Those who seem to hinder our progress can actually help us to be stronger and point the way for us to progress beyond fear.

The Canoe Without Oars - mixed media 380mm x 760mm Sold
The’’The Canoe Without Oars will Guide me’ was inspired by an image which appeared during a meditation retreat in which I saw myself standing in a boat being pushed off into the ocean by my meditation teacher. It was a small boat with no sail, no engine and no oars.

In 2004 I was about to embark on a journey to New Zealand to live for an indefinite period of time and this image came with a strong sense of being able and willing to trust in that which is greater than ‘self’. Allowing  oneself to be taken in the right direction not knowing in the worldly sense but letting the spiritual life take the lead. The tall cliffs which seem insurmountable, dark and forboding in the painting, are at the same time the gateway through which the boat will pass into the light and travel across the ocean to the ‘other shore’

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