Inner Alchemy

Ink and water-colours on Cloud-dragon paper mounted down on xuan paper.
244 x 124 cm
Hong Kong December 2014.
With four seals of the artist, 水松石山房 Shuisongshi shanfang (‘TheWater, Pine and Stone Retreat’), 如如居士 Ruru Jushi (‘The retired scholar who believes that all doctrines are equal’), 攜杖老人 Xiezhang laoren (‘The old man who carries the staff’), 石狂 Shikuang (‘Stone Fool’)


Entering the realm of Strange Stones is a form of inner alchemy, thatpromotes life essence, vital energy and creative spirit. Within the stone, as within the gourd, lies an alternative realm, a Peach Blossom Spring of limitless potential. The necessary feat of miniaturisation, metamorphosis is easy enough for the adept; one simply unites with the stone, breaks down the distinction between self and other. Once within this other-worldly realm, the rules of the Dusty World no longer apply, so dwelling and travelling within the stone’s infinite horizons pose no particular problem. One need not even remain on the ground if soaring like a bird, or joining brook trout takes ones fancy. For this reason Cinnabar-red colour seems appropriate for a strange stone, the same name as applies to Daoist Alchemy. Of late I have been donning my cinnabar robes to step into the world of strange stones more often, returning to the realm beyond the Stage of Time where past, present and future have no meaning and all those centuries of delight as a Stone Fool and Staff Master, within and without the passes of both realms, blend into one luminous experience. One day, soon perhaps, I shall simply remain within the stone and become the light, but in the meantime I shall continue to paint this inner realm of Strange Stones, including this one

Inner Alchemy

and join the brethren of the stone and staff as I provide a channel of communication between the two realms. Although I have to admit, I may be recalling the strength of colour of this particular stone with somewhat heightened enthusiasm. I have always been partial to cinnabar as a colour.

Inscribed by the Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat at the Studio Above The Dusty World, Hong Kong, December 2014 before departing for my own retreat in the chill but glorious delights of the Sussex countryside.