Arts / Culture

Gillian Wilkins on surreal sensations and unbound imagination in her latest collection ‘Pilgrim’

We are shadowed by our subconscious thoughts daily, tickled by our brain's surreal sensations, so alluring you just can't help but want to surrender to your psyche's most unbound imagination. Australian Artist Gillian Wilkins dwells in this surreal landscape, using collage and photography to form her unveiling knowledge of her dreamscape. Symbolic and traversed in her dream life, Wilkins turns inwards for inspiration to reconnect with the iridescent beauty in nature and the energy of imagination it illuminates.

Based in Mallorca, Wilkins' collection 'Pilgrims' was on display recently in Earth Core Gallery in Soller. In a sociotechnical world, being immersed in an "unlimited sense of imagination and freedom" has never felt so craved, that stepping into the captivating mind of Wilkins serves as a mesmerising reflection of the metamorphosis beauty of dreams created into artistry.

Gillian Wilkins speaks to RUSSH about the act of transcendence that 'Pilgrim' explores, rekindling the unbound spirit within us through her own introspective journey.

Your collection ‘Pilgrim’ reflects your journey of turning inwards for inspiration and a reconnection of unbound imagination, can you insight us on your introspective creative process towards this collection.

My creative process for this show was a mixture of revisiting ongoing dream work that started in 2015 and their relationship with the many metamorphosis that have taken place in my waking life. Considering all the lessons, blessings and insights along the way, this has been a sort of pilgrimage, hence the name of the show. Since Dreams have such an abstract and surreal nature, I wanted to feel “spacious” and “unbound”, a contrast to what we experience in our waking life where we are compromised of this unlimited sense of imagination and freedom.


What gravitated you towards the symbolic energies traversed in the dream life?

I have been very fascinated by my dreams since I was very young. They have always been energetic and vivid and a lot of the times, surreal and symbolic experiences occur afterwards. This is what I try to convey in the layers of my collages. Water and flying are recurring elements that come up in my dreams, there is a sort of celestial language in that which I am constantly intrigued by. The energies in dreams can sometimes shape my days. They are very influential in my life.


As an artist what feelings or meaning do you want the viewers to take from Pilgrim?

I think the experience is very personal and unique to each viewer, as we all have different experiences and perspectives we are attached to. If my art can transport you beyond your own self and perhaps creates a sense of freedom and sensuality, then I feel it has resonated on a deeper level somewhat.

How do you believe art contributes to a broader conversation about the nature of dreams, inner landscape, and the quest for higher knowledge?

Art can be a vessel that allows us to process many levels of being, the way an abstract or surreal image can evoke an inner landscape often comes with messages from another realm, well…. I believe so anyway. When you participate in any artistic expression and nature, you are activating something intuitive and innately powerful. You see it very much alive in children when they are left to explore their sensitivities uninterrupted, and I´m very much intrigued by that stream of higher knowledge that takes over.

There is a common theme of flowers and the woman’s body, can you tell us more about this…

I´m not sure if it’s related to hormones but my dreams intensified both times I was pregnant. The body and the mind in that time, feels very connected and I guess it’s related to the way your sub-conscious processes any fears that come up in that time. But for me there was a lot of freeing around birth, pregnancy and motherhood. By far it has been the most transformative and challenging period of my life and the essence and context that surrounds birth and motherhood continues to fascinate me daily.

There is a language to flowers that we can relate to symbolically.

I was very drawn to the Protea flower when I was pregnant with Amaia and like the first pregnancy, it was IVF. Other than the aspect of growing a human, the experience of IVF feels like it is taking over your body, your mind and creates a lot of havoc and this havoc feels stagnant at times. When I started to experiment with self portraiture, the Protea flower appeared a lot in my portraits. I didn’t really know it at the time but the Protea symbolises strength and courage, so its meaning is more significant to me now having felt that connection to it. I´d never paid that much attention to it as a flower before but it really captivated me especially as a totem alongside the body.


Your collection was created over a period of time, what were you reading and listening to that influenced your sensory experience into the dream life.

I officially started recording my dreams in 2015 so I leaned on that for inspiration. Sound and music artists like Hiroshi Yoshimura, Brian Eno, Nils Frahm, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ana Roxanne, Sufjan Stevens and Alice Coltrane (to name just a few) have been heavily influential and so has literature written by Dolores Cannon and Rudolf Steiner. Absolutely fascinating perspectives!


Do you see yourself working amongst the surreal landscapes in future collections?

Absolutely, but also open to working with other mediums and also the more abstract.


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