The mandala project is a new embroidery/digital photography iteration of the utopian, contemplative labour ideas that underpin the Happy Sleepy collaboration.
Fine craft making as contemplation and creative labour as social and political action are part of many indigenous and traditional cultures. I (Magda) use the slow process of fine craft, such as embroidery and beadwork, as self-healing. Mandalas, themselves symbols of the universe, give form to ideas of providence and balance.
We all need reminders of the bigger truths that underpin our daily effort because the odds can seem stacked against us sometimes and the effort can feel futile. The text on the mandalas are personal sayings that help to integrate the paradox of our lives: we must foster an optimistic attitude while we also need to accept great change and loss.
The phrases “The Universe Provides” and “Reabsorbed by the Universe” are beaded within the embroidery, turning the mandalas into linguistic as well as visual meditations on the bounty and balance of the universe.
The mandalas were inspired by a kaleidoscopic filter on a cellphone camera app that turns any view into a radiating, swirling pattern.
The very first mandala, pictured above, was made by photographing a hairbrush. The brush had black tines tipped with pink plastic, on a pad of charcoal grey rubber. The resulting photo looked like the tines could be embroidery stitches and pink seedbeads on a grey fabric. The pink of the brush handle is the central swirl and outermost border.