12 January 2011 by Julienne du Toit

The Eco-shrine Revisited

The first time we met Diana Graham she was defiant. Or maybe just angry.

An artist, she had built what she called an Eco-Shrine on her property in the forest town of Hogsback in 1995. She was disappointed because people just didn’t really get it. They thought it was a dippy attempt at outsider art.

Diana was trying to express something she felt very deeply: a profound interconnection with Nature in all her vulnerable, everlasting beauty. Nature as a universal force. Nature as the cyclical rhythm of birth, death and rebirth. The Earth arising like a seed or an embryo in the Universe. The sacred in all things. The interconnection and interbeing of all life. The holiness of the human process in trying to understand it.

Her mosaics and paintings express a reaching toward deep ecology. She paints Earth angels, eco-consciousness hatching like an egg, river shrines, inter-being, destruction and creation as part of the natural flow and balance.

People didn’t understand.

Recently we went back to Hogsback. In the very early morning, we snuck into the Eco-shrine, wanting to take first light pictures. Olive the Dobermann welcomed us. Diana emerged from the studio to say the shrine wasn’t open yet, then recognised us.

She was busy on a huge painting: the universe in a giant bubble, lying by a tree that is dying, and that in dying is giving life.

Open on a table were two books - one of the Universe seen through the Hubble telescope, and the other Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle.

Down at the Eco-shrine we talked as she took the covers off the oil paintings, one by one.

Over the years, things HAD changed, she said. “People are transforming. So many more people come to the Eco-shrine now, and they’re aware, they recognise its meaning. Especially women. They say they’re worried about the future for their children and grandchildren. I really sense a new ecological consciousness arising.”

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