Cornwall based artist Jon Middlemiss is known for his precisely constructed ceramic vessels and sectional sculpture which have won him international awards and acclaim. The "temple" piece is unlike previous works and uses a variety of media to express a personal journey in a series of spaces.  

  "I have always worked with themes of transformation, journeys and pathways. Often these are distilled into vessel forms exploring the ideas in formal and abstract geometric symbolism, but "temple" has been a personal journey to the emotional core of my sense of individuality, what I believed to be 'me'. Regression to discover elements of life in times and places that I have assumed to just be influences natural to artists brought me face to face with extraordinary philosophies and spiritual practices, magical and bizarre experiences and a willingness to participate in a 'life' I cannot recognize today.  Making artworks for this piece were less conscious than anything I have ever done. Images, created idols and gestural expressions of experiences that seemed to unfold for me over a period of four years make up the content of the installation which I called 'temple'. It was clear from the outset that this was not some place of reverence, but a raw and emotionally charged engagement with the 'temple' as a reflection on the emotional, rational, psychic and physical field I inhabit, and which I call 'my life'.

As the journey unfolded it was accompanied by a sense of rightness, a thing to be done. From writing and deep auto-hypnotic regression that led me to making the works of 'memories' I found myself plunged into a series of experiences that challenged me further. Dancing the anguish that needed liberation, sensing the beauty of knowing myself as bigger than my limiting beliefs, re-connecting to the childhood family life I had rejected... all came as I experienced 'five - rhythms' free dance movement and cut the ties that bound me to the ways I knew myself to be.

Towards the end of the journey I was given opportunities to travel to India and Nepal, to make connection to cultures and people I had not seen as part of my heritage. It added to the life changing experience of seeing beyond the little picture of me and knowing my sense of belonging in many places which had remained unexpressed.

The journey was lonely (perhaps of necessity) and hard to explain to anyone else. I had to retain my own sense of faith that there was some purpose, and it built a deeper trust in the connection I have now to the hidden worlds that seem to guide our lives. I know know that it helped me release the attitudes that held me in poor relationship to others because all actions were weighed on a distorted scale. In that sense it was a fundamental piece of healing work. I have been asked to take others through the journey, and if they have the courage to go there I would love for them to find their own path, and I will offer to be their journeyman.

As it progressed I realized that the path of spiritual re-integration or connection to true purpose followed the inner map of the Qabalistic Tree of Life, which I had studied for some time in my twenties. For those of you who partially recognize the map drawn below, I can only say that it arose as I started to make sense of the way I needed to go. It was not prearranged or planned, so the drawing came as a part of an inner map unfolding. Each stage of the journey has a sense of the 'Otz Chiim' or Tree of Life diagram.

  The 'temple' developed as a series of spaces each with a particular energy and form that reflects on my own process and I am grateful to the Hotbath Gallery, the Arts Council and all the others who helped me realize the piece. In particular I am grateful for the patience of my family at that time."  

The exhibition of "temple" has been a combination of created spaces and responses to the ritual engagement in that space. It reflects on the sequences of a ritual healing journey from emotional disconnection to re-integration, from a lack of awareness to a re-membering of the strong inner threads that underpin being part of a greater world consciousness than the one we model ourselves on. 

From exhibition to place of reflection the linear structure of the installation offers participation in a changing process of observation and contemplation. Each was a walk-through space in the exhibition.

The five sequential spaces are as follows, leading from "inner family" to "celebration":





"the dance"-------------------------------------------------------------------


"spiral of descent"----------------------------------------------------------
"inner family"----------------------------------------------------------------



(Article by Michelle Brown, curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library.)

Jonathan Middlemiss received two major project awards from South West Arts, and has had support from Falmouth College of Arts, City of Bath College and collectors of the Renwick Alliance (Smithsonian Institute) the Crafts Alliance Missouri, and other collectors for this project.