The first time I ever sat in a Spiritualist church and listened to the medium at the front I found myself wondering what the world of spirit looked and felt like to her. I wanted to know what she actually saw, how she saw it, and how she interacted with this strange unseen world. What did the ‘spirit world’ she was talking about look and feel like?
The reason I was asking these questions wasn’t actually because of a particular desire to know what the spirit world might look like (although that in itself is an interesting question!); but it was because being a geographer by training I always find myself wondering what it looks and feels like to be in the world from other people’s perspectives. We all have a physical ‘reality’ we move around and bump into everyday. We also all have other layers on top of that physical landscape of ‘things’ and ‘places’; we have memories and attachments, we have relationships and rules, we have expectations and habits. All of which influence the way we see and experience the world (for more on this see my previous post ‘Making a place your own‘).
But some people have additional layers of complexity to their worlds. Sitting in the audience of the Spiritualist church that evening I realised this lady had a complexity I’d never even thought about; and as a geographer I was fascinated. What was even more exciting from a geographical/philosophical point of view was the way in which the medium’s interactions with this unseen world overlapped and were woven through the worlds of people in the audience.
That was about ten years ago, and the ‘Spirited Stoke’ (or SpELS) project and our ‘Talking With The Dead’ exhibition are, in part, the result of that first experience of a demonstration of mediumship and the questions it opened up for me as a geographer.
As I came out of my reverie that evening – reflecting on the structures, meanings and implications of this unseen landscape for those who traversed it – I realised the medium had drawn a picture of a man. And that man had been recognised by someone in the audience. I have since learnt that what she was doing was ‘Spirit art’ – a form of mediumship where the medium draws the messages they are receiving.
We are very lucky as part of the series of events linked to our exhibition at Gladstone, to have internationally renowned Spirit artist Ann Bridge Davies doing two demonstrations of mediumship through Spirit art for us.
Ann told me:
“Spirit art is the drawing of portraits, landscapes and familial objects belonging to those who have passed to spirit by someone who never knew the people. The mediumship is through the language of art rather than spoken language… It is always exciting when a portrait is recognised by a person who doesn’t know the artist. And sometimes people have photographs on their phones or in their pockets which provide proof of the likeness.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about how the artist-medium works – and maybe even receiving your own message – why not come along to one of Ann’s demonstrations at Gladstone Pottery Museum? The first is on Thursday 17th September 1.30 – 3 pm and the second on Saturday 17th October 1.30 – 3 pm.
The sessions are free but you are advised to book your place in advance through the museum. To book, please call 01783 237777.