Evolution of Expression

There have been so many suicides around me lately…..there is nothing sadder, than losing hope… than losing life. Imagining that this moment now, is all there is and will ever be…..

This has been the impetus for me to write this blog…..

When I was about 13 years old, a few traumatic events happened in my life.

My beloved grandmother died suddenly at 67. I spent a lot of loving time with my grandparents.
I ended up in hospital with an extremely rare and near fatal throat infection, which required immediate removal, and a 10 day stay in an oxygen room.
I suddenly became a woman……what ever that meant!?
I began getting regular migraines

My life changed - I was scared - I felt alone, like I had never felt before! In some ways I was use to change, my parents split when I was five and then again permanently when I was ten years old. My two older brothers lived with my father, and my older but youngest brother and I lived with my mother.....but permanent loss - death was new to me.

With the death of my beloved Nan, and my own narrow escape........ life became suddenly fragile.....and I began thinking about life and death in a up close and personal way. Until then, it was just an abstract idea.

With these new experiences, came new emotions and realisations.......and with those an inability to express what was going on inside. I hated school, I felt alone and isolated from people my own age.

Later that year, I remember, wanting to commit suicide (commit - is such a weird expression in itself), writing a suicide note.....in a strange way, it was a way for me to take control of life. My last bastion of self! Luckily my mother found the note....Would I have completed the promise? I don’t think so, but I truly don't know! Am I please I didn't.....absolutely!

Im not sure I had a understanding of what it really meant.....other than I felt in so much pain and I didn’t know how to stop it. I knew and imagined I could take lots of pills - our house was full of them (my stepfather was a doctor). I thought this was something I could truly control ...because it felt I had no control in my life.

I didn't know at that time, I was in the middle of a transformation, I had no idea, that one day I would become a butterfly and would fly with my heart beating my own wings. I could only, feel the pain and liquification of my then 'self'.

It was then I found the guitar! I never was a decent guitar player, more of a chord strummer. But my guitar gave me an avenue to express my pain.....It brought my emotions upward and let me explore them in private. I started writing songs - the accompanying music allowed me to find the emotion and words that always seemed to abandon me when I was around others. The music and the formation of my words often brought unexpected tears in its birthing........

Were they great songs....Yes, they were lifesavers...... for me! From an objecrtive perspective.....no, not so great! :-)

But I am so grateful that I stumbled across this wonderful form of expression..........at this young, transformative and painful time in my life. All I can add to the incredibly sad story of suicide…is my own journey and to encourage people towards a creative outlet. It truly is healing. Whatever form of expression you take….

A motto that we all need to remember at times…..”This too shall pass”……it always does…..its called life!
We are all yet butterfly's in the making………….even when we don’t know it!

Richard Clague
Tension Within

I am currently working on a piece that is focused on the inner tension.

This piece is about the inner turmoil and conflict that happens within all humans.

The horse's torso and legs represent our choices - the push-me pull-you aspect: each end going in different directions and trying to pull the other their way by force.

The Female and Male represent all the aspects within ourselves that are fighting for their view, their needs and their wants. We all have many traits that take opposing sides within us, struggling for their place.

Richard Clague
New Sculpture - a work in progress

Adam and Eve

Back in my studio after being lifted out of it for way to long!

It seems to me that the great sculptors were masterful at reproducing the tension lines that are created by movements. It is literally the Life in Sculpture - the emotion one feels!

The lines are where the muscles pull in various directions to create movement. So for me, it is at least as important to study the inside mechanics of the body as it is the outside. As it is in life the Inner world creates the outer.

.......and so the journey begins......and life takes it's form....for today anyway.

It amazes me how you can look at the very same thing and see such a different view. That's what makes the first five minutes of each sculpture session so valuable. Your eyes get to see it for the first time again...

Richard Clague
Healing through the dark emotions

Healing through the dark emotions - Miriam Greenspan

It is through surrender to the unwanted that we embrace our vulnerabilities. Our helplessness teaches us humility. When we are humbled by pain, we see our smallness in the vastness of the cosmos. The ego gives up its hold on reality, its paltry attempts to control and to dictate it terms. It lets go of its agenda. Its grandiosity thus diminished, there is an opening, and a larger vision can emerge. Amazingly, this letting go which is a kind of death, is also one of the great joys of life – an effort that is the end of all effort. When we unfurl the gnarled fist of control, letting the hand open up to receive and to give our smallness = once the source of our agony = becomes a source of comfort.

Vulnerability does not mean wallowing in passivity abdicating responsibility, or relishing being a victim. It means being fully present to what is happening and staking no claims on the outcome.

We can transform pain to joy by keeping our hearts open. Keeping an open heart in hell, we learn the art of vulnerability, the power of no protection. This is a spiritual power not an egoic conquest. To learn its secret alchemy, we must be willing to accept suffering and vulnerability as a normal part of life. Because we are vulnerable, life hurts. We are not here to be free of pain. We are here to have our hearts broken by life. To learn to live with vulnerability and to turn pain into love.

“There is nothing so whole as a broken heart”. The world breaks out hearts wide open: and it is the openness itself that makes us whole. The open heart is the doorway inviting the angels in, revealing that the world – evening the pit of hell- is charged with the sacred.

Excerpts from healing through the dark emotions by Miriam Greenspan.

“Your heart will give you greater counsel that all the world’s scholars”.
— The Talmud
Richard Clague

In my sculptures I aim to capture the fullness of a single moment in life.
I hope they reflect the human face of joy, sorrow, tears, laughter and fear.
In them, we may all recognise our own emotions - those of both our light and our shadow.

Richard Clague
My Continuing Lessons

  1. I must always be prepared to throw everything I make out – otherwise I become attached to the result not the process. This means that I give way to fear and stop learning and experimenting with my art and style. The process then becomes only a means to an end – only the outcome becomes important instead of the process. Be scared but have the courage to do it anyway. It’s the boldness that enriches the expression. I must risk ruining my art everyday, to go beyond yesterday.

  2. There are no such things as mistakes in art. Because that assumes the importance is a) In the outcome b) less than it should/could have been.

  3. Don’t think that I know better (my mind) than the force of the art itself – the creation- God- creation is the highest force.

  4. When truly aligned I gain a fuller understanding and experience than I would have ever been able to have gained on my own. Some force comes in and creates through me.

  5. Just start – do something – something will emerge. It can only emerge out of nothing. Often it’s good not to know what – let it happen. Let it move my heart, my soul and then it will move my hands.

  6. If I don’t start anything then nothing will happen – all will stay in potentiality, not manifested. Have discipline and faith.

Richard Clague
My Commandments

I have noted the following commandments/notes over my time sculpting:

  • Creativity is my spirituality

  • To create something, I must first become nothing.

  • My Art is seeded in my soul, held in my heart and then birthed through my hands.

  • Art helps me to find myself but I need to lose myself first.

  • If my Ego orders me to do a sculpture, it won’t be very good.

  • Clay is left dormant until the time is right.

  • I believe it is imperative that sculpture be touched in order to be fully understood. Sculptures need to be experienced not just looked at.

  • Nothing always leads to Something

  • My personal judgment of my art is none of my business.

  • When I feel paralysed…that painfully exquisite moment before any form, when everything is possible and so nothing is – I just move my hands.

  • No-thing, is something, just yet to be unformed.

  • When there is nothing in my head I know I’m ready to begin with the art of creating.

  • Sometimes getting out of my own way is my biggest obstacle to creating.

  • I need to be very courageous to allow myself the opportunity to make mistakes.

  • Courage to let go, is one of the hardest things I seldom know how to do.

  • If I am attached to the outcome then it is not a creation but a making.

  • The clay used in sculpture has already lived in many different forms. All those beings are still alive within it. It truly is a living being.

  • It feels as if an unseen force enters my soul – all I have to do is stay the hell out of it!

  • My Art - It is not of me but through me.

  • Sometimes I am blind until I close my eyes and see.

  • We understand most when we close our eyes to our mind and what we think we see.

Richard Clague
Shona Lyon, Sculptor

A passion for sacred geometry and its magic is behind the stunning, powerful and sometimes shocking pieces created by new sculptor Shona Lyon, exhibiting for the first time this month.

Lyon’s work features bronze nudes created using the principles of sacred geometry and the classical French sculpture technique introduced to her by Martine Vaugel, an internationally acclaimed sculptor and winner of two awards in the Rodin Grand Prize Monumental Figure Competition.

Lyon was privately trained by Vaugel in France in 2008 following an earlier visit to Chartres Cathedral. According to legend, since 876 the cathedral's site has housed a tunic said to have belonged to the Blessed Virgin Mary so for centuries Chartres has been an important Marian pilgrimage centre and destination. It was here 46 year old Lyon was introduced to sacred geometry and developed a deep love for Mary.

“I continue to be in awe and inspired by the many faces of Mother Mary,” says Lyon. “Her enormous capacity for compassion, acceptance, serenity, love, wisdom and finally, surrender. Mary embraces us all and although she may have many different faces for millions of people she is our archetypal mother. I know she continues to bring hope, comfort and love to all of us who seek her.”


While Lyon doesn’t consider herself a religious person she is spiritual and says that spirituality is reflected in her creativity.

“To create something I must first become nothing,” she says. “My art is seeded in my soul, held in my heart and then birthed through my hands.”

As well as the bronzes, Lyon is exhibiting several clay composite pieces which require a very different process as no armature can be used to provide any rigidity to the pieces. While the same detail cannot be achieved for figures, larger busts and torsos look, weigh and feel like marble or stone and make wonderful indoor entrance pieces.

Lyon, the daughter of former Watties managing director Cliff Lyon, has one son, Nicholas. Following her visit to Chartres she decided to sell her import / export business and take an art sabbatical.

She now sculpts full time in her studio at home and focuses on sculptures that aim to capture the “fullness” of a moment of life.

The exhibition features 16 pieces including A New Earth inspired by Eckhart Tolle and his book A New Earth.

“This sculpture signifies that it is time for another birth. The mother is ageing and her ability to birth a New Earth is coming to an end, just like our planet,” says Lyon. “The dangerous stage of labour has begun.”

The Burmese Monk was created by Lyon when the monks in Burma took to the streets and were beaten and killed during their peaceful protest calling for the release of their democratically elected leader Aung San Sui Kyi.

“I continue to be deeply moved by the courage and spirit of these people in the most horrendous conditions,” says Lyon. “People’s inner strength to withstand is far more powerful to our world soul than the strength of any army.”

The bloodied rag around the monk’s mouth signifies the military banning of communication with the outside world while in his face you still see a resolute inner strength and peace.

“The outer world and our responses to it are a reflection of our inner world. The journey inward takes a lifetime and the closed eyes signify the importance of that inner journey. “

In the future Lyon wants to study and sculpt planetary archetypes along with Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. While these gods and goddesses are Lyon’s inspiration for most of her bronzes she adds a modern bent.

“Myths tell us the stories of the past. Archetypes act as mirrors in which we can see a reflection of various parts of ourselves, both the light and the shadow. They depersonalise roles and situations in order that we can personalise them.”

Lyon’s exhibition - very much a hands on experience because Lyon is adamant sculpture should be touched to be fully understood - is being held at her studio in her Mt Eden home on June 9. Following this private exhibition, Lyon's work can be viewed by appointment.

Richard Clague
The Beginning

To create something I must first become nothing.

My art is seeded in my soul, held in my heart and then birthed through my hands.

When I feel paralysed…that painfully exquisite moment before any form, when everything is possible and so nothing is – I just move my hands.

Richard Clague