ANGELA SCHÜTZ

My professional career began in 1985 as a commercial artist in Germany where I was born. I worked in advertising for 7 years when an increasing desire for a deeper understanding of human nature led me into psychology and I enrolled at the University of Bremen, Germany where I graduated in 1999. My main areas of study were psychodynamic theories. These theories explain how we become who we are in the formative years of childhood but never managed to give me a satisfactory answer to what enables personal growth after that. How can we become more than who we’ve learned to be, if what we have learned to be is all there is?

At this time my practice as singer in a jazz duo made me aware of the spiritual dimension in myself that I hadn’t yet experienced that clearly. When singing I had recurring moments of being plugged into an energy that seemed to lift me out of myself yet made me completely one with myself. I stopped making music and started being music, there was no separation. In these moments I was most expressive and playful, most creative with the least effort. This was the beginning of an understanding of creativity as a spiritual act and the spiritual dimension as part of the human being.

After university I decided to give myself time to explore this further and left Germany for a voluntary year at a retreat centre in London. At the centre I met an artist who encouraged me to take up painting and introduced me to Quakers. I got interested in the Quaker practice of ‘listening within’ as a way of connecting to the ‘divine Light’ that reveals the truth in all things and helps us to centre our lives in it. It reminded me of the healing gift of silence and inner stillness I had experienced on silent meditation retreats before. I started working as a warden at the Quaker Meeting House in Forest Hill, London in 2001, and painting became my main creative outlet.

From 2002 until 2006 I trained as a Psychosynthesis counsellor, a model that embraces the spiritual or, in psychological terms, transpersonal dimension as part of human nature. According to psychosynthesis the transpersonal realm of our psyche is the home of our potential, what we may be, and motivates ongoing development: We follow an inherent tendency to become fully who we are and get into conflict and pain if that natural flow gets blocked.

During my training I discovered the powerful work with imagery in the personal process. Images are like doorways to the hidden parts in ourselves. They can unlock transpersonal energy that is able to transform blocks into stepping stones. Inspired by this I started painting much closer to my personal experience using the images that emerged from it as a creative guide. Over the years this work has been supported by other practices such as dancing the 5 Rhythms and working with movement to access the wisdom of the body. This more active process is complemented by the stillness of silent meditation and writing as a tool to connect my more intuitive insights with the thinking mind and play with ideas, questions and answers.

In 2010 I left the Quakers and London to fully step into self-employment. I studied and worked as a freelance teacher at Tobias School of Art & Therapy in East Grinstead, West Sussex, trained with Michael Ganß, Medical School Hamburg, Germany to work with the elderly with dementia, and ran creative workshops, retreats and art groups in various places in England. Following the need for something more tactile my own art practice branched out into working with wire and I started making jewellery and small sculptures from found objects.

Since 2015 my home has been in the beautiful seaside town of Folkestone, Kent, where a thriving art community gradually turns its reputation of a rundown deprived area into a creative hub. The years 2016-18 I mainly spent refurbishing the house that is now my home. Since the major work is done, space is opening up to turn my attention back to art again to let my soul hang out with the new materials I’ve discovered, connect with people in the community and see where it takes me.

What matters to me is that I turn up and open my heart to whatever it is I do, whether it is building my home, making a sculpture, a painting or a piece of jewellery. In the end it is all soulwork as Thomas Moore says:

“Creativity is being in the world soulfully, for the only thing we truly make, whether in the arts, in culture or at home, is soul.”