Engaging with living nature. LOGON (Petra Erxleben) interviewed the artist Barbara Meisner from Düsseldorf/Germany – Part 2

Barbara Meisner and Robert Reschkowski (also from Düsseldorf) painted and worked at the Christianopolis conference centre in Birnbach/Ww. for half a year on weekends. The artists then presented their work in an exhibition from November 2021 to January 2022.In this interview, Petra Erxleben is particularly interested in the way Barbara perceives the world, which work processes she goes through and what her works are able to trigger in the viewers.

Engaging with living nature. LOGON (Petra Erxleben) interviewed the artist Barbara Meisner from Düsseldorf/Germany – Part 2

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The viewer is quite differently attracted and taken in by the large-scale painting panels hanging in the room. These are much more familiar in the perceptual tradition of fine art. Something big has been done, everyone notices it, you can look at it in passing, so to speak.

P.E. They hang so freely in the room that you can get close enough to touch them. They show in great detail even smaller structures and narratives in the picture.

B.M. In terms of detail, they are similar to the picture rooms which are rather dark in comparison, so that you look into something mysterious and secretive. The picture rooms are more intimate. Viewers approach them rather shyly and cautiously. The picturesque panels, on the other hand, offer themselves and invite you to walk around them. You can hardly look away from the sheets. They are like trees. They simply have the statement: Here I am.”

The boxes are more like whispers. Like the mushrooms.

P.E. You also use natural colours for your works.

B.M. I use extracts from dye plants. In the past, when chemical colours did not exist, all colours were extracted from plants or minerals, sometimes also from animals, red from cochineal lice, for example. My interest in natural colours deepened when I once sat in front of a group of hallimashes and dipped my brush into the reddish fungal decoction. This experience led me to read books on the extraction of natural dyes and to take a dyer plant course. Later I bought dyer plants, which are only available in a special nursery: dyer’s madder and dyer’s woad.

I often use onion skin stock, which turns a nice yellow, sometimes mixed with walnut stock, so you get a browner tone or black tea and coffee. I always colour my papers before I draw on them, so that there is an “occasion”, a first contact that leads me into creativity. Afterwards, during the actual drawing or painting, I feel connected to something higher that flows through me. I want to serve creation with what I do.

Here in Birnbach, in the park of the Rosicrucians, I felt that these trees are strong, they have been here for a long time and are real guardians. I got involved with that. The force fields of trees became my theme.

Girl grows into connection”

P.E. Let’s have a look at this painted panel, my current favourite of yours, I call the painting Alice in Wonderland”.

The girl’s look at the sunflower so wonderfully shows the process of seeing, which reminds me of Goethe’s saying, Were the eye not of the sun, how could we behold the light? If God’s might and ours were not as one, how could enchant his work our sight? It reminds me of Shiva’s eye or of Meister Eckhart’s saying: “The eye in which I see God is the same eye in which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye and one seeing and one recognising and one loving.” I am also moved by the girl’s gentle gesture with the hand. I find it fascinating that she stands as if on crystal mountains.

B.M. The painting is entitled: “Girl Grows into Connection”.






















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The figure is rooted in the earth and the roots have become mountains or volcanoes. One could also turn the painting upside down, then they are funnels flowing into the feet. Fine fibres grow upwards from the head of the girl. From the crown chakra there is a connection to the sky and back.

P.E. We root ourselves in the divine and ground ourselves in the earth. According to Rudolf Steiner, trees are like inverted human beings, as thought is “rooted” in the mental worlds and the branches, like our extremities, are active towards the outside.

In the belly of Mother Earth

B.M. At first the green parts predominated and I had to add blue to create a balance, as well as this sunny yellow. Down in the burrow, underground, I put in an animal, the fox. In each of my paintings you find an animal. A small bird represents the air.

I’ve always been interested in the below-above, perhaps also because I’m a miner’s daughter. Quite classically, my father “went underground”, where women were not allowed to go in the past. They said women in the mine brought bad luck. When I was finally allowed to, I went underground four times, most recently in 2018 at Prosper Haniel Colliery in Bottrop. It was a really tough world down there, we went down hundreds of metres into the mountain, then into the galleries, seams, partly bent over, with these heavy clothes and the miner’s lamp plus the other equipment on the belt. I was already groggy without working. Unimaginable!

But I was in the belly of Mother Earth”. I really wanted to experience this. Bear in mind that the trees and ferns that virtually toppled over and sank into swampy soils became peat, and through several million years (the Earth’s age of incarbonation is called Carboniferous) became lignite and bituminous coal, and finally graphite. And when graphite is compressed, diamonds are formed. This appealed to me so much that I did a piece called “Door into the unconscious > through diamond thinking!”

So you could say coal is celestial light fallen into the earth and it also stands for something incredibly crystalline, precious and luminous. These cycles fascinate me. When treasures of the earth are brought up to serve man, for example, for heating or for steel smelting, when then something of them rises up again as smoke and comes down again in the rain and waters our plants which become our food. All are miracles of transformation, treasures!

Energy Networks = Love

P.E. Let’s go to the next image banner. We have this crystalline around the cave with the two children, the dog and the mushrooms. There we are in the earth and you have painted this delicate translucency again. I once saw a potato root under the light microscope. You could watch the cells dividing in the most vivid way. If you think there is nothing going on under the earth – the opposite is true!

Earth is something extremely vibrant, light in all the colours of the rainbow. You make this come alive in your pictures.

B.M. This painting is called “Energy Networks (Love)”, the mushroom mycelium above it is a symbol that permeates everything. Underground, the mushroom mycelium permeates the earth. I recognise in it something like a nerve network of Mother Earth that connects us all. Through what? Through love.




















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What comes through me is also a matter of trust. When you connect with the divine and creation in this way, your perception is directed towards this loving interconnectedness and liaison. You then also meet people and circumstances that promote this. That’s where the energy flows.

P.E. Yes, it is like that. It is resonance. We also found ourselves resonating with each other in conversation and I thank you very much for that.

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Article info

Date: February 3, 2022
Author: Petra Erxleben (Germany)
Photo: Barbara Meisner CCO

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