Manisha - Collector of dreams.
Writer, performance artist, poetess & researcher at Neptune Archive; an archive of dreams, visions and hallucinations by the People of the World.
We had the honour of having Manisha as the face of Sunshine Symbol's Time & Space range and are delighted to share a little more about her and her process.
What are your earliest memories of writing and when did it become something you wanted to pursue?
I grew up thinking I was rich because my childhood was filled with books. We lived in the islands, and my parents didn’t have much money then, but they made sure I had folk tales, novels and encyclopedias. I was in a constant state of enchantment. At the age of five, I told my mother and father that I would be a famous author. I am not so much interested in fame, but I have dedicated my life to bringing imaginations to light.
Is there a piece of writing or perhaps a book that has really struck you and stuck with you on your journey? Or perhaps a writer you love.
In recent years my life and art has been moved by the poetry of Lal Ded, an iconoclastic 14th century Kashmiri saint/mystic who walked around with no clothes on. I am enamoured by the existentialism and glamour of Ukrainian-born Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector – her books A Breath of Life and Agua Viva have really stuck with me. At times I was reading passages that I felt I wrote – it was an experience of my inner labyrinths being seen and understood by someone I’d never met, such is the power of literature. I keep thinking about Richard Brautigan’s In Watermelon Sugar, Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others, Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf and Federico García Lorca’s The Theory and Play of the Duende. I am always reading and listening to folk tales, mythology and dreams.
Can you share a page from a dream journal?
I love that you have described the process of creating your work as '...going away on an inward journey, then sharing my findings with the world'. How do you prepare yourself for that inward journey or do you feel like it happens organically?
This is a way of being. I am a shy person who is also a performer. It is a funny dichotomy. Retreating into dreams, imaginations and travels for long periods of time, then sharing my thoughts, revelations and adventures. It is organic and innate.
Do you have any rituals you follow that help calm and ground your body and mind?
Writing down my dreams daily is a practice which is both grounding and stimulating. It is a process of reconciling activity between different realms that we exist on simultaneously; a way of balancing the travels of the spirit and limitations of the flesh. If I am away from my dreams and writing for too long I feel like I’m losing my soul. Keeping my imagination and spirit alive requires dedicating time to nurture it. It is a flame that must be stopped from ever going out.
I have been thinking a lot about meditative practices — the retreat and return. A few years ago, I meditated for ten days in Sarnath, a village on the outskirts of Benaras, India. Buddha taught the ‘four noble truths’ there. We would wake up at 4am to meditate. It was cold. I would sit in the meditation hall shivering, wrapped in an itchy woolly second-hand blanket. Books, writing materials and computers weren’t permitted. We had to take a vow of silence. At night, I listened to the howling of wild jackals. I think of that time of simplicity, silence and stillness. I remember that it was temporary. Just like our time of collective isolation.
What might you be listening to and/or reading that you'd love to recommend?
Last summer I became obsessed with Zamrock, a style of psychedelic rock, funk and traditional African music that emerged from Zambia in the 70s. Bands like Rikki Illilonga and Musi-O-Tunya, WITCH, Ngozi Family, Amanaz.
Paint me a mental image of a dream post-pandemic day in the life of Manisha
A painting of a circle in the sky to symbolise walking into the unknown.
What are you hopeful for, in terms of positive change, to come out of the challenges we've faced this year?
We are going through an uncomfortable and illuminating shift together. Imagination is really important right now – the collective imagination. I am hopeful that we can collectively throw away obsolete, oppressive systems of living and build a beautiful new world.