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  • Zoë Atkinson Fiennes, Founder

Art & Feng Shui

In past articles we have opened out the role of art as a tool for self-realisation and begun to explore how and why art and culture can truly offer support to us in our lives; as a source of self-help and a vehicle for getting on track to fulfilling our innermost desires and reaching our biggest life goals. The main reason that art is able to fulfil this therapeutic role is because it can transcend space and time and bring us face to face without our essential essence. Pablo Picasso put is beautifully and succinctly with the following words, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”.

In this article we take the time to reflect on why feng shui and art make such great partners, focusing specifically on the work of expert on feng shui and inspired living Jayme Barrett and her book Feng Shui Your Life. In layering feng shui principles surrounding art over the backdrop of themes we have already begun exploring we will see how all these theories are connected in that they curve around to the same core philosophy - that art is a multi-faceted emotional and psychological tool that we can use to enhance our well-being both within ourselves and in our external environments.

My interest has always been piqued by the mention of feng shui, but I wasn’t aware that it is so inextricably linked to art until recently. Like a breath of cool, calm and collected air Jayme’s book came into my life and blew the confusion and uncertainty around the feng shui way of life away, leaving in its wake a grounded understanding of this philosophy. It is a philosophy with the power and potential to revolutionise every area of a life, through the adopting of a considered and systematic approach to designing our internal and external environments. Jayme gifts the toolkit we need to intentionally implement changes in the now, to make the lives we truly want our everyday reality.

By its very nature our inner state of being will inform what works of art we are drawn to and what we choose to visit or indeed bring into our home - our artistic impulses reveal much about how we are feeling inside and what we desire most and it is important to pay attention to the messages we get from our interaction with art and culture in the outside world. It’s also important to know that the moments of self-reflection art presents us with can actually be wielded and channeled to assisting us and empowering us to stay in line with our goals, principles and desires. Jayme teaches us through the path of feng shui that symbolic objects such as paintings, sculpture or decorative items that are chosen with intention and sensitively placed, invoke the powerful emotions in us we need at key points in our daily routine to propel us forward on our path to our idea of heaven on earth. She writes, ‘Symbolic objects are items that affect you physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. Feng shui teaches you to use artwork, photos, mementos and decorative objects to symbolise what you want to manifest…when you place these items in your environment, you are actively and purposefully programming your entire being to achieve your goals’. 1

Once honed, the skill of carefully selecting and placing objects works not only on the ebb and flow of our everyday emotions but also on the subconscious mind, Jayme explains, ‘Everything you see creates a certain psychological and emotional effect, many times beyond your level of awareness’.2 To think that the objects we are surrounded by could have such a deep effect on our well being in the present and our power to bring the life we want into being is at first a startling concept. One fear entering our minds might be that we have unconsciously chosen a lot of the objects we have in our home, or we might have a sinking realisation as I did, that my home doesn’t actually reflect me or my desires. It could seem such a monumental task to get then from A to B, but we are assured that even small shifts can make a huge difference. Just as a single drop in the pond ripples out into infinity so too can our deliberate yet small shifts in mindset or habit, ripple out to inconceivable depths.

Much of what we learn from Eastern philosophies like feng shui is just that, that the path of least effort, of least resistance is the path to greatness. It’s really a shift in consciousness that we are talking about at the heart of it all, not necessarily a huge overhaul of everything you have ever owned. For once you are conscious of how profoundly your external environment sends signals to you, and alters your emotional landscape and your subconscious mind, you can easily wield that knowledge and the power it brings with it, to your own advantage and promote well-being. You can start with changes that requires the least effort, for example repurposing or bringing in a new illuminator, ‘To illuminate is to enlighten, vitalise, and inspire. In feng shui, color, symbolic objects, and artwork are considered illuminators. These enhancements makes all the difference in the energy that your home exudes. Imagine your home is a blank canvas ready for your creative hand. You can use color, symbolic objects, and artwork to paint the life you want to live’. 3

Jayme suggests starting where you are and taking the time to reflect on your existing surrounding and how they impact on you. Observe all objects, artworks, colour, plants - everything that comes together to make up the landscape of your living spaces. Do your artworks speak the tune of your dreams, values and aspirations? Do they visually represent your idea of happiness, of joy, of balance - are you uplifted and inspired by them or pulled into dark emotions? If they don’t encourage your ‘well-being and forward momentum’ 4 then Jayme advises you ought to make a conscious choice about whether they deserve a place in your personal space. Your choices will be necessarily individual as what represents well-being and inspiration or love, for example, will look different from one person to the next and so we ought not to feel pressure to choose or refuse an artwork for any other reason than the one that feels natural.

5There are some kinds of artwork that are considered best and best avoided in this philosophy however, ‘According to the principles of feng shui, the artwork that you display should be positive, colourful and abundant. Avoid artwork that depicts poverty, death, depression, lonely images, or bleak scenes. Seascapes and landscapes bring in nature and soothe the soul. The expansiveness of these scenes opens up the space and elicits a feeling of freedom as you “look out the window”. Colourful gardens with a multitude of flowers and trees are excellent feng shui’.

Consciously choosing what we bring into our environment should be fundamentally rooted in what we consciously want to encourage to flourish in our inner worlds and what we want to see manifested in our lives. ‘You become what you focus on’ 6 Jayme imparts, and so it follows that we need to make sure that the environments in which we spend most of our waking hours are full of symbols that represent us, and in addition that they are full of opportunities to interact with uplifting and meaningful images. In the same vein it’s key that we remove any negative imagery that brings up emotions or memories that don’t serve us, this could include anything from an artwork you don’t feel connected to or don’t find beauty in, to a beautiful heirloom painting that brings up negative connotations because of who it belonged to previously.

There are of course certain areas of the home that lend themselves best to displaying art as Jayme describes, ‘the two most meaningful areas to display art are across from your front entrance and opposite your bed. Every time you enter and leave your home, you should be greeted by your favourite piece of art. In your bedroom, you will be inspired as you fall asleep and when you awaken…’ 7 This is, she reveals, a way to capture the power of the first and last impression of the day to creatively influence your psyche and your subconscious and fill your spirit with positivity both as you begin your day and as you dream the night away.

Art and feng shui make truly great partners. This fruitful relationship has so much to offer and is one that will keep on giving if you put feng shui principles into practice with a carefully curated and expertly placed art collection. I thoroughly recommend Jayme’s book Feng Shui Your Life and keep a look out for more of our articles on the role of art as a tool for self-realisation!


1. J. Barrett, Feng Shui Your Life, New York, Sterling Ethos, 2012 p. 105

2. J. Barrett, Feng Shui Your Life, New York, Sterling Ethos, 2012 p. 102

3. J. Barrett, Feng Shui Your Life, New York, Sterling Ethos, 2012 p. 102

4. J. Barrett, Feng Shui Your Life, New York, Sterling Ethos, 2012 p. 102

5. J. Barrett, Feng Shui Your Life, New York, Sterling Ethos, 2012 p. 102

6. J. Barrett, Feng Shui Your Life, New York, Sterling Ethos, 2012 p. 102

7. J. Barrett, Feng Shui Your Life, New York, Sterling Ethos, 2012 p. 178

For more information about Jayme Barrett go to

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