elizabeth turnbull
outsider art
iain andrew turnbull
guest artists
Get In Touch
elizabeth turnbull

A Tale of Some Consequence and Truth

My first book consisting of meditative prose and poetry and original black and white drawings, inspired by a series of inner spiritual encounters with Mary the mother of Jesus. (200pp text + 29 B & W illustrations)


She sits behind me, she leans on me, I feel her on me like a cloak as I walk along. What is it about her that insinuates itself into me, pulsates, prods me, fascinates me, threads in and out of my life? Is it that she is trying to help me, but tell me also that she needs my help?

Today I went for a walk down by the river, seeking silence, searching for that one place where all is revealed and one is completely alone, where truths become reality.

I found something, and someone, waiting for me that was so unexpected, yet so familiar that I knew it at once.

I was sitting on a rock, gazing out feeling peacefully attuned to a slight breeze ruffling the surface of the water. The corner of my eye caught a tiny speck of blue. Slowly I turned my head and looked into the most serene face I have ever seen. The gentle, compassionate eyes matched in intensity and clarity the colour of her cloak.

No words were needed as we sat together in a space so clear and light. Then I had to ask the question that had been niggling in my head since that Christmas Eve.

"Every Christmas you have to go through the birth again, only to watch him die every time. Your grief must be profound. How many times can a mother watch her only son die? You attempt again to give life to this ultimate truth that we must remember to live eternal free life – a life of joy and peace. You must tell me what it is that we are missing on so that at last you can have your own peace”.


"Mother, you are me, and I find myself in you. Your need of me is so intense that it burns away all my lack of self-value. And I find I am there, with you beside me, and in me, and I am beside you always and within you.

"Today, my need to talk to you is strong. I went and sat by your little ‘altar’ table and felt you there. As I sat, this piece wrote itself for you. And maybe others will understand you better from what it says — and my drawing is a dedication to you, in thanks for the joy I felt in putting together this altar. Every time I look at it I get a lift and feel you are with me.”


On the corner of my work table sits a small, white, ceramic madonna figure – hands together in supplication, head on one side, eyes downcast, her candle not yet lit. I bought her at the markets, after several visits to see/feel if she was to be mine. And yes, she waited for me. She keeps me good company and reminds me of our thread/connection through time. But I’ve always felt she was lonely – so pensive and alone.

And then, on one of my walks one day I came across a small piece of broken mirror, very thick, roughly in the shape of a triangle. I picked it up and immediately thought of my madonna, and that it would be just right to put in front of her with all her other pieces that try to keep her company – a piece of seaweed, moss on a piece of bark, an opened seed pod, feather, leaf, a piece of bleached bone, incense, blue sequin, mauve glass, my tiny sculpture of a female on a found-wood cross.

I wasn’t prepared for the magic thing that happened when I placed the piece of glass in front of her. She was incredibly lit up and shining.

Now she looks at her own reflection and can see herself in all her beauty and for what she is – herself – instead of someone’s mother. She looks down and is forever peaceful and whole; then her image is thrown up and out for all the world.

She has grand company now – herself – and is never alone.


Warm air,
Mind adrift,
I sit in my chair;
And would dissolve
Into the earth beneath my feet.

“ I sit here in the bush, the air is starting to cool, the cicadas are quietening down. I am at peace with my beloved trees, earth and sky; they allow me to expand out and become at one with them. And I wrote this for you about how I feel in the bush – your beloved nature.”

The forest, the trees, are very mysterious. So quiet and still. If I am quiet and still also I have a great sense of – something else, some other presence; another quality, which we in our normal way, do not see (feel).

There can be a great stillness, and then a little flick of grass moves, a leaf falls, an insect crosses a light beam, a tiny circle of wind turns some leaves, as if someone has just disappeared from there. I feel that the woods are presenced by unseen people (essences). They like the dark, cool atmosphere, the shadows, the greenness, the sense of decay, which of itself, is the extreme sense of change which is all around us.

I feel that things go on there that we could only glimpse from the farthest corner of our sight, and then only just.

If I could let myself go more, would I be part of it all? I am part of it all, but for some reason it has been shut off over the centuries. Is it the great essence of the earth that I feel — and yearn to be a part of because it is myself? A need to go ‘home’ – for I have finally realised that that is what I feel – at home. I wonder if this is why we like birds so much and are so interested in them – they inhabit the forests and trees where we would like to be, have a longing for, and feel our home is. And I wonder if this is why I feel such a need to keep the big trees in our garden intact, why I feel such a need to be there with them and am so vehement about not having them cut back, mutilated. For some reason they have to be whole. To continue to reach straight up in their own natural way. Not to have their energy spread out from chopped-off branches. I’ve never quite understood why I was so strong against everyone else about it. What it was that was keeping me so.

When I am in the forest I find it hard to come out into open ground and I want to go on walking, and being there, forever. Yet that would not be living this life I have; but for me it can be such a renewal, a recharging of my life-blood's energy.

But then there is still that strange pull to go and be there forever, in a living meditation. And where would that take me? And what would I find? And yet one is aware, in some forests, of being an intruder, or if not an intruder, then aware of your vulnerability – if you should cross a snake’s path it may bite you, a tree may fall at the precise moment you walk beneath it. So there is a wariness, in some forests, an awareness of a respect for your unsafeness, a need to be careful, alert. The adrenalin rises, and yet for us this is part of being human – the awareness of being vulnerable — all life has its strengths and weaknesses.

In My Garden
“The sound of rain is so beautiful after so much dry. Even the weeds are dying from lack of water. The big trees cry out for deep searching rain. No hose held by human hand can quench the thirst of a mammoth old tree. One can only send/give healing energy to the tree of one’s love, special love, and trust that it will be enough to keep it going until the rain. My lovely old mango tree is having some sort of struggle – perhaps it is being crowded out by the other more vigorous, younger trees. I have held its hand and asked if I could help. I can hear it now, sighing, as the rain caresses its leaves and runs down the thick scarred trunk; down, down to precious roots. Life’s blood to a tree.”

The image in the mirror,
Is that me?
Brittle and hard
With tenseness of years
Of holding it all in,
Lest the other me tumble out
To be seen by all.
Too soft and subtle
To live;
But to dissolve into the now.
All women breaking open
Inside me.

My studio looks derelict and bereft;
Dust lies thickly on the worn table
And the skeleton of a small gecko
Mocks me
For its unuse – creatively.
In my mind I see it thus
When I am not there,
To fill it with my being,
My painting,
And my love.
It will wait so for me,
Till I return – to give it a dust,
a sweep
and life.

Now all is known.
A gentle wind drifts through my mind.
A tree canopies my soul,
With a bird to companion
Solitary hours
Of brilliance
And light.
A raindrop to bathe my body.
A rainbow to ride
For sheer joy
Of being alive.
All moments of terror and fear,
Self loss and denial,
Have been worth it
For this ultimate feeling
Of serenity,
And the sheer bliss
Of being human.




Cover picture




home :: about me :: about outsider art :: my art :: my writing :: iain andrew turnbull :: guest artists :: get in touch

© elizabeth turnbull 2013