A change of direction for Ashcroft artist Jo Petty

Jo started her project as meditation, to take her inside herself.

The first mandala produced by Jo Petty is a celebration of the birth of her second granddaughter.

Christopher Roden


There can be few people in the Ashcroft area who are not familiar with the art of Ashcroft artist Jo Petty her landscapes and bright flower designs are seen regularly in exhibitions, and are on display at many locations around the town.

More recently, Jo has been channeling her energy in a new direction, and regular visitors to Facebook will have seen a series of attractive mandalas, part of Jo’s new project to produce a drawing each day for a year.

Traditionally, a mandala (a Sanskrit word literally meaning circle) is a spiritual and ritual symbol. Commonly, however, it has come to be recognized as any diagram, chart, or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically.

mandala 2According to an article on Wikipedia, we owe the re-introduction of mandalas into modern Western thought to Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst. Jung’s circular drawings reflected his inner state at the time they were produced. He wrote: “I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing, which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time. Only gradually did I discover that the mandala is the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious.”

mandala 9Jo says that she started her project as meditation, to take her inside herself, and she thinks of the work she is producing as just that, rather than as an art project. She doesn’t set out with the intention of creating a specific design, “I just let it develop from my starting point on the paper.” That starting point can be a simple mark on the paper, but is more likely to be a circle, drawn around a circular shape. Using a set of Japanese gel pens, the design is developed to fit a six-inch square piece of black paper. She says that she doesn’t set out to create something that has a particular meaning apart from the end result speaking to the person she has in mind during its creation.

Others have felt differently and, indeed, it’s possible to place many interpretations on Jo’s mandalas. Some people see fish, others the sky and the planets. Each piece speaks to each person in its own way.

“I always wanted to be an abstract artist,” says Jo. “There is an element of what I have learned as an artist through the years going into these pieces. But this isn’t just about me. It’s about relationships with other people and the bigger world, and the spiritual aspect of the bigger world.”

The first piece was produced in February to celebrate the birth of a new granddaughter, but the project to produce one mandala a day didn’t begin until May. There are already six albums brimming with work.

There are no plans at present for this to be turned into a commercial project. “I turn the occasional one into a birthday card, but for now this remains a personal project. But who knows?”

Meantime, enjoy the small selection which accompanies this article, and be sure to drop by Jo’s Facebook page to see more.

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