The Roots of the Ecological Self:
Knowing through Nature

Images and Text by Jonathan Metcalf

I was interested in the power of nature and the reality behind European folklore and the underworld tradition. I explored this by concentrating on the hidden: the interaction of light and dark in places we may not see. One has to get one's knees dirty and crawl into the thicket or into the womb of the forest to see sunlight playing on the forest-floor or a shaft of light picking out the leaf of a nettle: the 'Heart of Darkness' if you will.

Slowly, the paintings changed from pathways and hidden groves to focus on the actual relationship of intense points of light on leaves or bark, to the darkness in which they were immersed. My paintings became darker and darker and the green, reds, whites and blues from the light become sharper, smaller, but stronger also. I found myself turning more and more to abstraction and exploring how darkness defines the light. (So much of our true knowledge must be gained by facing the fear and travelling through the darkness in order to KNOW that light) It was turning from a kind of German Romanticism to a reflection of the cosmos in nature: the "elsewhere" of physics, where time/space didn't exist. Then I realized the patterns I was creating with nature were the cosmos: the light of the leaves were the stars, the flash of sun-lit gold from the bark of the tree was the curve of the super-nova, the splash of day-light in the shadows the galaxies. The macrocosm is in the microcosm, and vice-versa.

Click on the image to see an enlargement
and the gallery of Jonathan's other artwork.

The Sphere represents knowledge inherent in nature, and the symbol of perfection, it is the power of nature waiting to be rediscovered, for we are literally part of her fabric; from the synaptic spark of the neuron to the spiral of our DNA. Knowledge is the sphere. The process of knowing through nature is at the root of the Ecological Self, which is I believe is essentially another word for soul or fragment of the universal Mind.


Originally a commercial artist working in London, Jonathan Metcalf has been exhibiting his own work as an independent artist, and is currently about to start work for an Holistic Education Foundation in Liverpool. Jonathan has plans to train as an educator with the view to teaching art with an ecological emphasis.