Garry Kennard at his exhibition 'The Sea and other icons' at Petworth House, July 2009

My images are created in the tradition of icons – objects of contemplation. These decidedly secular icons, usually of traditional subjects, present a combination of abstraction and illusion, making our brains jump from one mode of perception to another. I hope that this use of visual paradox will produce a kind of silence in mind of the viewer, a closing down of the prefrontal cortex ‘chatter’, allowing the emotional rather than the analytic parts of the brain to come to the for. Also, in this mode, the images attempt to communicate a particular view of the material world, showing everyday objects, strange in themselves when isolated and seen out of context, surrounded by a further enveloping mystery.

The writing explores how contemporary views of perception and the brain sciences effect our understanding both of art and of ourselves. I believe that this research is laying the foundations of the most important revolution in our understanding of what we humans are and our place in the material world. Even more than the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions of the past our growing knowledge of how our brains work is providing philosophical and ethical challenges of fundamental importance, the repercussions of which are only just beginning to reveal themselves. Not only in the arts but also in ethics, politics and social organisation, our understanding of our brains will change our self-image, and consequently our behaviour, profoundly.

We are beginning to be able to see how our brains create and sustain a coherent emotional and intellectual structure for use as a tool with which we can make our way in the world. We are beginning to realise the fact that we are not simply looking out of windows in our heads at the material world, but experiencing a universe created (and constantly recreated) by our brains from information arriving from our senses combining with innate structures.

Another part of this exploration has been the creation of the organisation ‘Art and Mind’. By means of festivals and symposia, I have brought together scientists, thinkers and artists to share a common stage from which to inform (and discuss with) the general public these crucial ideas in our understanding of the human condition. Please look at the Art and Mind website (see link on the home page). You may be inspired to join in the greatest adventure available to us in our age – the exploration of inner space. Or, more plainly, to try to find out what makes us tick.

Garry Kennard