I have started with a series of Mandala paintings. My brain is a prolific producer of such symmetric, circle-based patterns. When I look back through school notebooks, through journals, through documents doodled on in endless meetings, through papers from conferences, there are circular patterns interspersing my notes, in the margins, sometimes covering pages and obscuring the text.
My obsession with symmetry started early. I can remember sitting on my bed as a child trying to decide which foot to put down first. They had to touch the floor at the same time, or it would be unfair. If I did something with one hand, I had to do it with the other. That was not entirely satisfactory since one hand went first. My childhood was filled with such conundrums.
I never lost my fascination with symmetry and the satisfaction of patterns that rotate and reflect. It led me to study mathematics where I took great delight in algebra and the symmetries that result from finite groups. I spent hours playing with these, making patterns.
Mandalas are associated in the Buddhist tradition with wholeness. They seek to depict all the facets of existence in one, emphasising the interrelatedness of all things. For me, the traditional forms of the mandala, a circle within a square canvas, containing a square, containing a circle brings to mind the old mathematical problem of squaring the circle; how to find a square and a circle with the exact same area, a problem which led to explorations of some of the great philosophical mysteries of numbers.
My mandalas each depict a particular feeling, state or process. Each of these is represented by colours, shapes and patterns. Thus Happy is painted in bright, clear colours and Peace is a collection of shapes that contain and calm. The image above is from the Energy mandala.