Saturday, March 28, 2009


Ashes by Jennifer Khoshbin who is a carver of books. (see more of Khoshbin's prints here)

Most, if not all, cultures have used the spiral as a positive symbol. It has been associated with the cycles of life. Cycles of birth, death and rebirth. Cycles of time and growth, nature and her seasons.

Spirals found at Newgrange, Ireland. It has been suggested that they relate to the solar cycle. Read more here. Intriguing!

Container with spiral decoration, Bronze and Iron Age, Late period, 300B.C. - 200 A.D. Thailand. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Spiral Meditation by Kalyna Pidwerbesky. Felt and fibre.

Spot of Spiral Tea by Christie Reynolds at New York Art Exchange.

Sweet grass basket sculpture by Debora Muhl.

Cell Division by Patrick Dougherty
"Dougherty's works allude to nests, cocoons, hives, and their lairs built by animals, as well as the manmade forms of huts, haystacks, and baskets, created by interweaving branches and twigs together. Many of his works look 'found' rather than made, as if they were created by the natural force of a tornado sweeping across the landscape. He intentionally tries for this effortless effect, as if his creations just fell or grew up naturally in their settings." - Linda Johnson

Brick Things by Bennett Blackburn

Land Art by Jim Denevan

"Jim Denevan makes freehand drawings in sand. At low tide on wide beaches Jim searches the shore for a wave tossed stick. After finding a good stick and composing himself in the near and far environment Jim draws-- laboring up to 7 hours and walking as many as 30 miles. The resulting sand drawing is made entirely freehand with no measuring aids whatsoever. From the ground, these drawn environments are experienced as places. Places to explore and be, and to see relation and distance. For a time these tangible specific places exist in the indeterminate environment of ocean shore. From high above the marks are seen as isolated phenomena, much like clouds, rivers or buildings. Soon after Jim's motions and marks are completed water moves over and through, leaving nothing."

Hundertwasser regarded the spiral as a symbol of life and death.

"Our earth describes a spiral course. We move in circles, but we never come back to the same point. The circle is not closed. We only pass the same neighbourhood many times. It is characteristic of a spiral that it seems to be a circle but is not closed."

"The spiral shows life and death in both directions. Starting from the center, the infinite small the spiral means birth and growth, but by getting bigger and bigger the spiral dilutes into the infinite space and dies off like waves who disappear in the calm waters.
On the contrary if the spiral condenses from outer space, life starts from the infinite big, the spiral becomes more and more powerful and concentrates into the infinitely small which cannot be measured by man because it is beyond our conception and we call it death." - Hundertwasser


  1. Amazing compilation. Especially the one in sand.
    How many times I have walked past a spiral and not noticed it. And yet, how many times I use it in wire work, doodling etc. It is so soothing and calming both to look at and create.
    Thank you for the deeper meanings and ancient symbols.

  2. "The Plant Kingdom opens like a Flower from the Middle of the Earth where the Eternity lie."
    William Blake
    On my Woodland Walks I met the Spiral every Day. Because one goes to the Whole and the whole thing goes to one.
    Greetings, Hukwa

  3. Beverly, I find drawing spirals very soothing too. It is quite amazing how many spirals you notice when you are tuned into them.

    Hukwa, lovely quote. You are right about the spiral being everywhere.
    I visited your blog and love the photo you have used for your banner.

  4. Oh, I love this post! Spirals are one of those universal symbols that always gets me spinning in a good way!! and you have found a fabulous set of examples for us - wow! Each so unique and powerful... Have you read Angeles Arrien's Signs of Life? She does some good stuff on the spiral, along with the other 4 universal shapes :)

  5. Once again, Robyn, these are cool. I have always used a lot of spirals in my work too. I love that feeling of "full circle"ness.
    Nice post. I love the pic with the bricks. How cool is that?

  6. this post blew me away - my husband and I tried to figure out how the spiral of bricks was created and then the sand spiral - wow! and I loved what Hundertwasser has to say about the spiral- thanks Robyn!

  7. get out of my head! just kidding - I just find it so crazy how often your posts seem to connect with my brain ... I am working on a spiral mandala right now, so have a bunch of thumbnails of spirals in my notebook. I think it's time to paint it. :)

    thanks, Robyn.

  8. Robyn, I have always enjoyed visiting your blog, and have nominated you for a Lemonade Award. To find out more, go to
    This is a great compilation of spiral designs, where/how do you find them all? Thanks for sharing all these fabulous images.

  9. Hundertwasser's comments about the spiral's start and end are interesting. If I have it correct he is saying that the spiral represents both sides of view...finite to infinite and expansive to the infinitesimal.

    I like his super colorful representation as well.

    Robyn, how in the world do you have time to produce so much work and research all of these topics so well?

  10. The brick spirals: probably rebar, chicken wire and cement base. Just supposing.

    Thank you for the many informational and inspirational posts. I depend on your site for new ideas and links. You are one of my 5 top blogs to visit, and the source of all five! Thanks! I have not commented before, but just thought you should know.
    Carry on!

  11. Your blog is stunning. Thank you for the birthday wishes. Cheers.


    Love Renee

  12. You've posted a great set of inspirational shots again. Wonderful! Sounds ridiculous yo say that I had forgotten about Newgrange, but I guess I need to look at their website again.
    I just love the book carving - so much that I am going in search of my scalpel and a suitable book to try this out with once I have shut the computer down.
    Thanks for posting.

  13. Its amazing how many times spirals crop up in art, modern and historical. I use them often.
    I enjoyed the carved book.

  14. Another great theme for a post. Jennifer's work is amazing!

  15. Karin, I havn't read Signs of Life but have now put it on my Kalahari wish list.. thanks for the recommendation.

    Katie, the brick spiral is rather effective isn't it? Very cool.

    Jeane, Blackburn threaded cored bricks onto steel reinforcing rod.

    Michelle, I'll hold you to that. Waiting to see your spiral mandalas.

    Sharmon, thanks so much for the award. I find art for my posts by googling...a lot!

    Stevie, I work in the day and blog at night.

    Janet, you are probably right though Blackburn does mention threading cored bricks onto steel reinforcing rod....and cement.
    Thanks so much for commenting. It's great meeting like-minded bloggers.

    Thanks Renee, hope you had a fantastic birthday.

    Annie, glad you enjoyed the spiral post....and better yet, feel inspired.

    Jackie....amazing how they crop up in nature too.

    Seth, I enjoyed this theme too. I have so many more images especially the well known spirals by Escher,Victor Pasmore, Calder and Goldsworthy.


  16. i love seeing spirals in nature and art. you've shown some delightful examples.

  17. Spirals are one of my favourite shapes along with circles. I use then all the time in my carved stamps. They are also a symbol of great energy.

  18. Robyn, I have always been fascinated by the symbolism of spirals and you have assembled an wonderful list here.. These Art pieces are wonderful... They each stand on there own.

  19. Amazing! Wonderful collection of art!

  20. this is a great post; spent a lot of time on Hundertwasser's site... he's a truly a mystic. My favorite is the brick spiral, the way it makes people wonder how it is made and also the strength of it; recalls for me rams horns, and that power, and yet it is buried or embedded in the earth so it is seems stuck, but not if you think of the power of a spiral in that Blake quote (which seems also like images of the soul, with the flower at the center.

    lots to think about here for me, Thank you again, again... *echo the again... again. :)

  21. Wonderful post Robyn. Spirals are so connected with the human psyche in so many ways. It is one of the symbols I have always doodled since childhood. The labyrinth has always fascinated me too. I wish we had one nearby which I could walk. The book art and the sand art are quite amazing. The sand art reminds me of our crop circles here in the UK.

  22. This is a stunning post Robyn.

  23. Thanks Julie, Ro, Gwen, B&W

    Mansuetude..again..again..again :-)

    Cathy, a great doodling symbol! I would love to walk the labrinth too and have discovered there's one a few miles from here. So one day soon...

    Thanks so much Yoli!

  24. Wow! What a fascinating post. The spiral is an element that I use a lot in my work, and I had never thought so much about its history and symbolism. I so appreciate your discussion.

  25. that's a nice a teenager i was fascinated by fibonacci spirals and daydreamed away entire math classes whilst doodling them...

  26. Each one is amazing in a different way. Hypnotic spirals!!

  27. Fascinating post, all the different art inspired by the spiral... all so different but with the one common thread. I too find the spiral so compelling, and to read about each of these artist's interpretations makes me think and wonder... and read it all again, (the last quote especially). I love the sand spiral photograph and story the most, how Jim Denevan walks for miles on a beach at low tide, finds his drawing stick and begins making his "land art" Thank you Robyn.

  28. Hello Robyn,
    thanks once again, breathtaking!
    I particularly like Jim Denevan, fascinating!
    You can't throw a pot without leaving a spiral, turning wood...
    Sometimes I don't leave a comment because I just don't want to say wow again, difficult to explain, I know, but sometimes the more you say something, I feel, trivialises it. Anyway, wow!!

  29. Thanks for the spinning experience Robyn. Its incredible how you manage to dig out these various sculptures from all over the interest.

    The Sweet grass basket sculpture is my favorite in this series. Awesome

  30. Elizabeth, glad you enjoyed the post. I find that researching each post renews my enthusiasm.

    India, I think I did the same with Golden means divisions of all my exercise book covers, inside and out, spiralling within each division.

    Bindu, hypnotic indeed.....once I start drawing them.

    Roxanne, I don't know how Denevan manages to keep his designs so perfect especially on such a huge scale.

    Jude...and mixing with the cake mixer....Wow is wonderful...please feel free to wow at any time :-)

    T&S, amazing how basketry is stretching to sculpture. I seem to be finding it everywhere.

  31. mmmm spirally...once again thank you for taking the time to inform and inspire x

    Ripple of applause for artnight interview ...gone straight into my favourites and I am offically declaring my LOVE for Cows for Lobola door!

    Hope life is dandy with you missus!

  32. This is such a dynamic shape, just loved this post, Robyn. That last quote blew me away. Intriguing and comforting both.

  33. I love them all but I am particularly drawn to the teapot(go figure) and the land art by Jim Denevan. Hunderwasser has always been a big favorite of mine and it is fun to see his work on one of my most favorite blogs.

  34. Hey Mimi, life is dandy thank you ...will be over to see what you're up to in a minute :-)

    Shayla, the quote intrigued me too.

    Leanne, now why did I think you would like that teapot???

  35. I have always wanted to place my foot on the very first brick in the yellow brick road. I loved this post!

  36. Love the spirals - is there an artist out there who hasn't used spirals in their work?? I know I have, and I read that many others have too.

    So if you carve during the day, and blog at night, when do you sleep??? You amaze me. I always feel like I am two steps behind...