Tobie Giddio, artist/illustrator, on a piece of white peacock feather
GB Tell me about your object.
TG It is a tiny piece of a white peacock feather. It happens to be for me the most beautiful object because it is literally a magic wand. It came from the peacock feathers that a great Saint brushed over my head at a moment in my life when I was becoming aware that a very profound transformation was in process. It is a Hindu tradition from India passed down for thousands of years from many lineages called Darshan; Sanskrit: ‘auspicious viewing’. This object holds the transformative power of Grace. Beauty is the visual component of Grace. Grace is the power that holds us, guides us, and consciously or not, mysteriously brings about our evolution on every level possible. It is not a matter of ‘believing’ in something. It is an internal process that goes on with or without our acknowledgment of it. It is pure mystery. For me this is an object that holds the highest and purest intention possible.
GB How did you manage to keep hold of this tiny thing?
TG It was an ‘accident’ that as I went back to my room at the Ashram that day, this tiny white feather remained in my hair. It was a magnificent gift. I am filled with the resolve to make art that is a pure expression of Grace. To accomplish this I am required to have one foot in this world and one foot on the other side so to speak. That’s what enlightenment is all about. Teetering between the divine and the human while carrying on with whatever it is obvious that we are meant to be doing with our lives. I don’t find that it is really very hocus pocus. It’s about sensitivity; what we are willing to notice, feel, trust and express that arises in our own self. For me the transformation artistically has been about having the courage to stand behind the abstractions of beauty I see. To allow myself to move beyond the surface of fashion drawing and express from deeper and varied perspectives – while staying true to the subject matter; beautiful clothes and objects. The leap from pretty to beautiful is big.
GB So beauty is something that’s constantly on your mind?
TG To never stop inquiring about what beauty actually is, this is for me the most worthy aspiration. Beauty has the power to uplift and inspire. If I can make work that can touch that exalted state in us then I am consciously aligned with the transmission of Grace that has been given to me. In the hierarchy of art I do believe that music is the highest and most direct form of this, though I am aware that there is indeed a visual component to this and it is what I am committed to.
GB What makes something worthy of the word Beauty to you?
TG When an animate or inanimate object causes a positive emotional response there is a recognition going on. In the presence of beauty we are able to identify our own worth. We immediately place value on the object or place or being but the truth is that ultimately we are not really separate from that object, place or person. It is very important to pay attention to what we find beautiful because it is the pathway to knowing who we are at our best, what we want to be doing with our time, what makes our life meaningful. It is so personal. It is the language that speaks directly to our highest aspirations and sense of value. What we are focused on and think about is what we become. My tiny peacock feather is what I pick up whenever there’s any confusion about that sense of worth, my beautiful vision of the truth is restored and I carry on.