Words & Illustration: Graydon Theron

The word “space” is strange as it possesses both physical and immaterial connotations. On one hand we have geographical space, the size and volume of which can be calculated through the use of various units of measurement. On the other hand there are the slightly more confusing ideas of the immaterial, the spiritual or the mental spaces that we interact with on a daily basis, spaces which are – more often than not – created within the conscious or the subconscious mind. When we walk into a room it has an innate “feeling” to it, when we are engaged in the creation of an artwork there is a kind of trance-space that seems to exist between the artist and the artwork – such spaces cannot be pinned-down using our units of measurement or any mathematical formula as their domain is not the physical. These spaces are drawn up from another dimension, and as indistinct as such a dimension can often be I will nevertheless attempt to provide a personal perspective on such spaces and how they impact on our lives every day.

As a child we spend most of our time caught up in wide-eyed wonder of the bright new world around us; everything seemed so huge, so out of place and many times so very scary. Walking around the garden was an adventure, small plants seemed like trees and the trees themselves were the impossibly huge guardians of the surrounding natural environment. At this stage of our development our minds were being populated by the grand mystery of life, untainted by the opinions of a society or the perspectives of adults our brains quite literally threw open the doors to our mental spaces and shouted “Please, come in! Stay a while!”

And yet over the years we find that these layers of images and sounds and feelings build themselves up, opinions and ideas establish themselves and we begin to judge the world in a manner befitting our experiences. As I grew older those spaces still held their magic despite the fact that I had physically outgrown them; the tree did not lose its respect and the small spaces between the plants still held mystery as I looked upon them with adult eyes. Mental spaces stay with us, create us, and are in a way us. An artist draws upon such secret spaces in order to create a personal style in his/her artwork, we look upon others with eyes conditioned by our minds and a room does not become a room until it is filled with the memories of a human. Such inner sanctuaries are sources of inspiration; they drive our creative minds and fuel our ability to order an otherwise disorderly world.

So in a way the ethereal, the immaterial, justifies the physical; there is no such thing as objectivity when walking into a particular environment and feeling something about it, or judging an artwork that we are studying with a friend. The layers in an individual’s mind will always be different to that of their contemporary’s yet at the same time each will be completely and fully human in that no other animal has the ability to project onto their surroundings the mental images that exist in the depths of our brains.

We can say that although the shared geographical space of this world is out there, visible and tangible to all of us, it would not exist as a human construct without the power and the authority of the mind and its various dimensions and realms. Our realities are constructed using the bricks and mortar supplied to us by our subconscious, fed into it through our mental spaces, constructed by our experiences of the lived environment. One cannot exist without the other; it is a circular pattern which lasts as long as our physical bodies are alive.