A few years back I began work on ‘bringing out’ images of Elders – they became an ongoing theme – here are just four from the series that emerged, along with a little background on their evolution and info on how the images are made….. 

GRANDMOTHER  ‘tender heart’: ELDER SERIES 1998

white and black inks on paper – 13 x 13 cm

…..this old grandmother was the first to show up, full of love and an ancient tenderness that just blew me away – she also reminded me very much of my maternal grandmother Florence, who was a healer and diviner – Florence introduced me to divining when I was just seven years old, so maybe there is something of her intitiatic energy in this Grandmother……..

it seems there is no accident in this work coming about – for a couple of years I had been engaged with ancestral healing within a communal setting – I was also working with some of my own ancestors – our links and communications became stronger as a natural consequence of this – amongst other things the healing process helped clear up unfinished business, which is always present as a potential blockage until resolved – subsequently, it seems, a renewed energy was released out of  which the Elders Series grew – and it really did feel as though there was new sap flowing up from the old roots of our family tree, an irrepressible force for new life…

…..thinking on this, it became clear that a potential creative route for healing was being opened up, one that could be shared – as a visceral process it promises to reach across time and could bring the present as well as the future into more harmonious relationship with the past  – after having studied creative work in contexts of ritual, ceremony and healing for some years, everything suggested that this development had to be good for us all, contemporising and further earthing collective healing…..

exploring this impulse the images that followed ‘tender heart’ became more visceral too and literally grew,  needing to be expressed on a scale that would hold their energy – but, Grandmother was the first in line and I found that the seed energy that she had brought with her needed to evolve on the physical plane – this led to more experimentation and exploration of different media – I had to wait nine years before her companion appeared and, when he did, he also initiated a new impulse……..

GRANDFATHER ‘tender heart’ 2007

compressed charcoal and natural chalk on canvas  –  67 x 67 cm

Grandfather marked a big transition point – he was the first of the Elders to be exhibited – making the transit from the healing (or ritual) space to the ‘public’ – there is a powerful aura around him that emanates not just from the physical size of his image, but, also from an intensity that he shares with the initial Grandmother, his partner  – he is clearly from the same spiritual root as Grandmother

by the time Grandfather arrived the techniques I was using had developed and changed – they had come from a specific approach to drawing that I learned shortly after Grandmother came along – it is a free-from technique that employs a mild trance state to allow the drawing to take shape and the image to emerge – it is akin to a shamanic state of consciousness, and yet, it is the physical nature of the drawing process that facilitates it – one thing that is particularly appealing about the process is that it can be used in virtually any therapeutic context, from the most agnostic to the most spiritual…….

……….the technique was shown to me by an indigenous healer who told me that all the faces (and images) that come through belong to people (and times) whom we have known in previous lifetimes 

 in the course of time, this process has developed and can be successfully passed on to others – it brings a creative beauty and tangibility to both ancestral and past life healing – we get to see what otherwise might remain hidden or latent, and, at the same time, get to keep artwork that can at times be astonishing and inspiring on both a personal and collective level 

in the years between the two Grandparents many other peoples showed up – the collective aspect of the work also began to come to the fore – I continued exploring the technique, applying it to illustration and other settings and applications, and out of this drawings with two or more people in them began to appear – ‘friends’ was one of the first………


compressed charcoal and natural chalk on paper  105 x 88 cm

I have the sense that these two have known each other for many years – as well as the sharing that they appear to be engaged in there is an inner conversation going on as well – perhaps they are sharing memories or the common ground of experience – whatever it is, they seem to have completely dissolved their boundaries and have a unity of spirit that we find so often with old friends – I found this to be very healing as an emergent image

in this image you can see the bare bones of the process more clearly – the whole starts with a basic spherical structure around which everything hangs – the initial lines are produced in trance and appear rather random – and yet, after some minutes, there appear nexus of energy within the creative graphics – it is out of these that the features emerge – when two faces are emerging the energy of their interaction feeds into the image and this further brings out their individuality on a different level, one of relationship, of identity within relationships – this development brought a deepening and refinement to the solo images 

it has also, quite naturally, led to the exploration of specific qualities within people – again, between the times of the two Grandparents, I began to frame an intent to meet people through the drawings who had clearly specific roles within in their community – I was particularly interested to meet with artists, healers and diviners and invited them to come through at the beginning of the drawing process –  one of my favourite characters to come through as a result of this refinement is the Seer – she is also one of the largest of the drawings – she fills the space with a wild and effulgent energy and this is so strong that I keep her safely tucked away most of the time………


compressed charcoal and natural chalk on paper  –  105 x 124 cm 

I was walking across the Avebury Downs when I first got the Seer’s calling to come in – I was collecting the natural chalk that I use for these drawings at the time – it is a lovely dense, fine and slightly wet stone that seems so alive in the hand – at one point, my partner and I entered a spinney (small hilltop woodland) that surrounded an ancient mound just north of the ‘Sanctuary’ within the land surrounding the Avebury complex – as I sat next the mound and gazed out across the fields towards the great circle and Avebury village I felt a shift, a wave of energy – a presence, warm and yet enigmatic – later, as we left, I almost felt as though this presence was walking with us

I had been wanting to invite a diviner to come through the drawing,  and so on my return I invited someone with this energy and focus – as the image took shape I knew this was the same presence I had felt up on the Avebury Downs

 She/he, for this one is ambiguous in their sexuality, has both a fey and earthy quality – they are otherworldy and at the same time wiley – wise to the ways of the world – more than anything else though, there is a quality of feral  magic, a certain look in the eyes – the Seer has a wild joy that holds our attention – its as if they are tangibly infusing the physical dimensions 

some of these images are best only brought out from time to time – they have the potential to change the contours of space and time when in their physical company – they can bring healing to the maker and the family line – they can equally inspire creativity, and, as they do not rest on artistic ability for their effectiveness, are accessible to many – with some care and respect they will maintain their power, and have their voice – I hope you will enjoy meeting them………….

through finding form the Elders remain strong within our lives – their presence fills the void where their voices could be – for this reason I feel this work is worth every ounce of energy that we can give it – it is available to all and through it, in the course of time, the importance of the elders and ancestors will be born out, remembered and embodied – if you are interested to find out more please send me an e-mail or post a comment……….all blessings

respectfully, please feel free to copy these images for your own personal use and, if you wish to share them, please give them attribution to the author – many thanks


Rob Purday wishes to be identified as the author and copyright holder of the ‘Elder Series’ images, as reproduced in The Elders’ article above, and,  in relation to this, reproduction of these images for commercial or promotional use, in any form, is strictly prohibited without permission and consent of the author.


apologies for any automatically generated material appearing below………

4 Replies to “ELDERS”

  1. Those images are fantastically lovely.. I can feel the texture and how lush they are with my eyes..

    but you don’t need me to tell you that.. I just thought I’d share my opinion because they really moved me

    .. magical and utterly solid feeling of mineralization, strength and powerfulness as though you have transformed the idea of flesh into living breathing precious stone..coarse yet soft and elegantly lines.. I am in awe. I am just trying to capture the words that come to mind when I see them.

    1. Hi Alter – good to have you visit – thanks for the response – I am an esotericist in both creative and healing work, so, credit should go to the otherworlds – however, makes a great difference to have this kind of feedback – the real pay-off, as a diviner as much as anywhere else, is in the stories that come back…..thanks again!

  2. Rob I totally agree with your experience of the presence of Elders. Yes, they do exist and they actually make their presence felt with clear meanings to be understood at the very least. We have one female Elder following us from one country to the next…babysitting for my little girls when I’m out on conference. 🙂

    And she shows up every year during each of my girls’ birthday! She looks very similar to that one in Avebury Downs.

    1. Hi KK – good to have you visit – its that time of the cosmos – the links are clear – good to know the old ones are with you too in supportive presence – one day they will come out and form a circle of medicine, maybe soon – they will have their say
      thanks for the e-mail too – will reply v soon!

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