Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

But to me nothing - the negative, the empty - is exceedingly powerful.

Alan Watts

As I travel along this arty life path I realise more and more the notions, ideas, concepts and principles that intrigue me and guide me.  I am engaged by the notion of nothingness; of emptiness and that which is absent.  I wonder how much can be left when you take so much away; what do you leave? How does the absence of something affect those things that remain?

I know there is a Japanese word for the sense of emptiness; and a buddhist philosophy that also suggests that emptiness isn't emptiness at all, rather the absence of something so that the emptiness is there, ready to be filled.

I remember the first time I actually articulated this love of emptiness and nothingness to myself was when I was flying over the Australian desert on the way to Perth. I ached with longing at the amazing emptiness, the quietness and the absence.  The landscape sang to me - high above and through the engine noise - it spoke so eloquently of its beauty and haunting presence. And somehow I knew it was important to me in my art.

Like Alan Watts - I think it can be exceedingly powerful.  

How to express it? How to share the essence of it? How to communicate the sense of wonder of it? It's not easy, and you have to be careful not to confuse simple, quick, lazy and easy with empty.  

I still think less is more, and I guess I'll continue along my way and try to find meaningful ways of speaking of absence and emptiness and nothingness, and the beauty and power of it.

©2011 Fiona Dempster, detail Absences


  1. Negative space. White space. Nothingness. Stillness. Emptiness. Silence. All so simple sounding and, sometimes, simple looking yet so incredibly powerful.

    In my art life, it took an old friend literally hitting me up side the head and lecturing me on the positive qualities of leaving what I then perceived as a hole in my basketry, before I realized that, for me, negative space is not only good, but necessary.

    I love your Thursday Thoughts - they set me to thinking and are so eloquently considered and written.

  2. Fiona....lovely ponderings on absence....a very compelling force! Thank you!!

  3. Less is definitely more... if only I could always remember that. It is often the negative space in a painting, or drawing, that have the most power.

  4. your are right.. the Japanese and Zen tenets believe that in 'emptyness' is the hope of renewal and transitions.

  5. Thank you Jennifer - I think understanding emptiness and its power is great. Its not just simply less, somehow. I know I have a way to go to really get the notion, but its lovely to know you're on the journey too!

    Thanks Patti - it can be very compelling and you know it when you feel it or see it I think...

    Interesting isn't it Jo? Sometimes the negative space can speak volumes...

    Yep V - he sounds like a guy to follow up a bit more I think.

    Thanks Donna - I have a way to go to fully explore and understand the notion in many ways, but I like the idea that emptiness is potent and full of potential.


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.