Aleister Crowley: authoritative occultist, compelling writer, god-awful painter.
All of these Crowleyan modes and more will be in evidence in Windows to the Sacred, an exhibition beginning in Sydney on Friday. The S. H. Ervin Gallery, marooned on the appropriately astral prominence of Observatory Hill and separated from central Sydney by a great churning sluice of traffic disgorging on to the nearby Harbour Bridge, is the setting.
Subtitled “an exploration of the esoteric”, the exhibition is a dialogue between past and present, an examination of occult practice in visual art, moving images and sound. Along with Crowley there are works by Kenneth Anger and Austin Osman Spare, local luminaries Rosaleen Norton and James Gleeson; contemporary artists Barry William Hale and Thor Engelstad. A promising programme of events includes a lecture entitled “Artist as Prophet – Crowley, Norton & Visionary Art” and a Gnostic mass devised by Crowley for the OTO.