Marie Laywine

By Jeremy Miles

Marie Laywine says she could have been a landscape painter. But instead she literally followed her dreams and discovered what she sees as a  hidden world that speaks from deep within the subconscious.

For Laywine, who originally studied art in her native Canada way back in the 1960s, the only landscapes that really fascinated were psychological ones. 

Visted by a series of powerful dreams she set about unlocking what she felt was their essential message. It would be the start of a journey that would take her across the world, travelling where her muse sent her in pursuit of a visual language that would bring the mysterious world of the subconscious into some kind of beautiful focus.

“I use images and ideas from my dreams to help me represent visually the mountain ranges and coastal plains inside a person,” she explains.

Such statements are inclined to send ones psycho-babble detector screaming into the red.But guess what? Red is good, says Laywine.  It is the alchemic colour for femininity, the colour of blood, the colour of passion, the colour of fire. It is the also the title of Laywine’s latest exhibition which runs at the Lighthouse Centre for the Arts in Poole until January 26.

Her paintings are indeed overwhelmingly red, although she also uses black, gold and even white, applying paint with a palette knife.

 Gradually building up a texture, she then layers the effect with transparent glaze before applying more paint, more glaze, more paint, more glaze  and so on until she knows, with absolute certainty, that the painting is complete.

“It can take years,” she told me when we met at her exhibition. “I have to wait for the painting to resolve.”

She set about explaining how the mood and atmosphere of her works eventually fall into place and how every mark on the canvas is vital to the finished painting even if though it may have been apparently lost weeks, months or years ago beneath countless layers of paint.

The end results with their dense texture and almost plasticated finishes do little for me but they sell across the world for thousands. Marie Laywine was I suspect pleasantly surprised at my honesty when I told her that I really didn’t like her work very much.

She later sent me an email saying BLAH BLAH BLAH

Well I don’t know about being on the same wavelength but it was certainly interesting talking to this intriguing woman about her ongoing mission.

 She told me she records her dreams in a journal, putting linking ideas into special dream boxes. This is her source material. It speaks to her, tells her what to do and where to do it.  For the past 17 years she has been based in Dorset. Her dreams brought her to a  600-year-old chapel in Abbotsbury that serves as her studio.

It is the latest leg in a journey that in the past has found her living and working in Italy, France, the Middle East and, for a time, a primitive village 10,000 feet up a mountain in the Himalayas.

Myths and legends and symbols from a variety of cultures feature in the construction of her work. Her travels, she says, have enabled her to study “the point where dreams and reality meet.” 

Indeed she believes that  her paintings are a  translation of that place which she describes as “the third reality.” 

She calls the process that has led to the development of her extraordinary visual vocabulary as “an archaeological dig on a psychic level.”  Her excavations are ongoing and recently she claims to have found a fourth reality by engaging in “a dialogue” with particular segments of her paintings.  

It’s tempting to dismiss Marie Laywine as being just a little bonkers but in a world that seems increasingly intent on fighting individuality, blanding everything out and making the unorthodox suspicious, that is not an option. 

Whatever wavelength I may be on I’m clearly not ready for a third or fourth reality. I’m finding it difficult enough dealing with the first (that’s the second to you Marie).

© Jeremy Miles 2022