The Story of Cluny Lounge’s Indian Garden Painting

Foundation co-worker Swan Treasure donated one of her beautiful paintings to Cluny, where it now hangs in the lounge. Here she tells its story:

I painted this painting in India in the 90s. At that time I was living in a spiritual community in many ways similar to ours, the Osho Community International, which was then called an ashram. I was learning art therapy from an amazing Japanese artist called Meera.

My training started in 1991 and ended in 1996. I painted every day from 7:00am to 7:00pm as part of an international and multicultural group that was exploring the mystery of life through art. Yet my strongest memories of painting there were of being absolutely alone and one with the vibrant, tropical nature.

IndianGardenSwanPaintingWe all used a technique that Meera taught which consisted in mixing multiple layers of colours and mediums such as acrylic, inks and watercolours. In fact it was more than a technique, it was a way of shedding the layers of our ego onto the paper while the painting became alive, infused with life force, a living experience rather then just an object. We all shared about our inner journeys at the beginning and at the end of every day.

When starting a new painting the first part of the process was cathartic and supported by music. We danced and expressed the movements through colours on the paper. That could go on from one to three weeks, layer upon layer, sweat and tears of grief and joy, laughter and frustrations, pain and bliss, it all went into the painting until STILLNESS happened. From that spaciousness we were ready to take our piece outside and we went to sit in the beautiful gardens.

I sat with each plant and flower and learned to communicate with them (as I am writing this I just realised that while I was in India doing that, the very same thing was happening here!) or rather I learned to commune with the plants and to translate their essence into the paper as well as my connection with the elementals. The heat of the sun, the wind amongst the bamboo stalks, the sound of a waterfall, the coolness or dustiness of earth wanted to become part of the painting.

I remember being on “my own personal mission” to capture the endless playing and shifting of light and of life itself onto the paper until after struggling with my inner critic for about a year, I realised that it was a “Mission Impossible” and I was able to give it up and to discover ease and flow in painting instead of an effort to achieve a specific aim. I just had to let it all happen, the “good bits and the mistakes” could be together because the judgments were gone and I could simply move the brush in harmony with creation and enjoying it, as if I had become the plant itself making a new leaf from the depth of its being. That is how ‘Indian garden’ was born, as well as many other of my paintings.

It is a great joy for me to share it with the Cluny family and guests. This painting has come all the way from India to Scotland, to be in a very, very special place and I am truly grateful for it.

Thank you all for welcoming my heart and art with such openness and so much love.

Swan Treasure

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