The Art of Seeing: Rediscovering the Four Senses Hermeneutic

This is an excerpt from one of the presentations featured in the Pari Center’s event Seizing the Underlying Unity of Science, Arts and the Sacred, in Pari from August 29 to September 5, 2023.

with Mary Attwood

“There were stones asleep, and one felt that they would awaken at some Judgment Day, stones which had nothing mortal about them, and others embodying a movement, a gesture, which had retained such freshness that it seemed to be preserved here only until some passing child should receive it one day as a gift.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

In our modern age, we seem to have lost the vision to see beyond the surface of things to the numinous beyond. For centuries, the visual Art of the Western world has shown us the numinous in its variety of forms as they are shaped into the beauty of great cathedrals, paintings, sculpture. They tell us of a phenomenological experience of the world we have forgotten, of how the secular is infused with the sacred, of the human in relationship with the world. The older works of art we see today were not intended to be analysed by a small rational part of our brain, thereby reducing us, but were to awaken the senses, the intellect and soul. Ways of seeing and knowing may be revealed altering perceptions and consciousness and helping us meet the complexities of modern living by offering a renaissance of humane and sacred values.

Mary Attwood is an art historian, author, mentor and business creative with a particular interest in the ways in which our perceptions of art can awaken us to a deeper, embodied dimension of being which we have lost in our post-modern age. She is a founding member and co-director of the Centre for Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred, and c- founder and co-director of Dr Iain McGilchrist’s platforms and online archive of work. She holds a BA (hons) in the History of Art from London University where she followed her passion to study Italian late medieval and renaissance art and architecture, while also pursuing her interest in Eastern philosophy, qualifying as a teacher in yoga, meditation and mindfulness, and co-authoring two books published by Watkins. She holds an MA with distinction in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred. Her thesis, Rebirthing a Lost Vision of Renaissance Art, researched quattrocento Florentine Renaissance art from a broad context of ancient Greek philosophy, the neuroscientific approach of Dr Iain McGilchrist’s thesis on the left and right hemispheres of the brain, archetypal psychology and Renaissance artistic approaches.