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“Anima” is the twin of “animus” in Jungian thought, the female and male aspects of the
psyche. Anima is the Greek for “soul” and also refers to that which gives life - “animates”.
The fluid and penetrating quality of water associates it with the life force, the “water of life” - no life is possible without water, more than any other element. Anima in the psyche is associated with the fluid and sometimes overwhelming nature of the emotions. Water in dreams symbolises various qualities of emotion.
Most imagery in this set is associated with water in the form of the sea - the sea symbolising the “oceanic” feeling of visionary and mystical experience, the origin of all life, and sometimes awesome and frightening death.
The engraving of the moon’s phases refers to the connection of the moon to the sea’s tides, and sometimes to human emotions, too.
The spiral nautilus shell shows the logarithmic spiral, connected to the Golden Section – supposedly the harmonious proportion of number associated with organic growth and our perception of beauty.
The shell, starfish and sea urchin are photographs of my collection of natural objects.
The engraving of a planisphere on the left hand shows the majority of the earth’s surface covered by the oceans.
The plates showing seaweeds and corals are from Ernest Haeckel’s “Art Forms in Nature”, an early use of lithography for this kind of illustration.
The engraving on the right of the middle section shows an alchemical process of elements conjoining which is symbolised by the formation of a hermaphrodite, in a bath symbolising the alchemical vessel. Interestingly, the figure outline which this series is based on is of myself, with female proportions, yet most viewers perceive the figures as male. A hermaphrodite has been formed without too much conscious intention, although I purposely didn’t emphasise which sex the figure was. The alchemical vessels on the thigh could be seen as phallic in shape.
The coral figure at the very bottom is one that gave me a strong shock when I first saw it exhibited. It carries a strong sense of “the uncanny”. This, plus the engraving of a personified typhoon, the spiky crustaceans all refer to the power of the depths of the ocean to inspire fear and disgust.
The alchemical stage here is solution - dissolving of one substance into another, contained in the phrase “Solve et coagule”, an important part of the alchemical procedure