A few years ago, VisionTV in Canada aired a fascinating documentary called “The Alma Drawings.” I remember being awestruck while watching the hour-long documentary. It was about Alma Rumball, a name completely unfamiliar to me at the time, but one, I hope will one day be better known around the world because it really deserves to be.
(unfortunately no video, if you want to watch the documentary, you can order it via the “Alma Matters” website)
The strange, swirling paintings and Alma’s own compelling story had me glued. Alma was a quiet farm girl born in 1902 in Huntsville, Ontario and lived most of her life in near seclusion. Her artwork was the typical flowers and trees variety until sometime in the 1950′s; she had a spiritual awakening which transformed both her and her artwork completely.
Alma drew hundreds of drawings, swirling, energetic masses of exotic deities, strange symbols, lush and vibrant colours. Sometimes she drew right off the paper and continued onto the furniture and up the walls. Besides not understanding where these images were coming from, Alma’s drawings were incorporating extensive symbolism, themes and references to Eastern religions and cultures as well as cultures which are anchored in “myth”. These included Tibetan symbols and deities, images of Atlantis, Joan of Arc, and strange and mysterious texts and references to Alma’s name.
When she died in 1980, Alma’s legacy was handed to Wendy Oke, the wife of Alma’s nephew, Colin Oke, who now share Alma’s legacy and the message of Alma’s artwork with the world but not many know about the phenomena of Alma Rumball.
This is Wendy explaining the work and world of Alma Rumball in her own words.
Alma Rumball was my husband’s aunt , and he grew up watching her hand race across paper provided for her by his mother, with her disclaiming any authorship of the gorgeous, intricate pen and ink drawings. She always said she didn’t do them, “The Hand” did, and that she was as excited to see what The Hand would do as we were.
She was both clairvoyant and clairaudient, seeing a vision of Jesus and a panther in the mid 1950’s. Jesus said, ‘You must draw and you must write’. She had a turbaned guide, Aba Pasha, whom she described as a ‘genius’. He was a black, turbaned man, who spoke with her and acted as confidante, as she drew unfamiliar, otherworldly beings, often connected by tubes from the mouth. She was unfamiliar with the word, so I researched and found that only a soul on its last incarnation, with an important mission to accomplish, is granted a genius as a guide. e.g. Socrates’ genius.
In the 1950’s she was shown that the Holy Ghost is Feminine; this information made her apprehensive about going against her fundamentalist Christian church teachings. Her Atlantean writings begin “You are the Holy Ghost” and some of her drawings are identified as holy ghosts for a particular purpose. Her writings go on to tell about the Queen of the Universe and the Queen of Atlantis. Many messages frightened her then, and she burned many pieces, but her information is appropriate to what we understand now, in this prophesied time.
She wrote “Alma Came To Earth As Joan of Arc” across a drawing, and knew very little about Joan, nor did she believe in reincarnation. She wrote about Atlantis, though knowing nothing about it. She rendered Tibetan gods without having travelled or studied other religions. Alma’s childlike acceptance of such strange phenomena allowed her to commit her life to the process. She never did understand the Source or the meaning of the strange figures and characters, although she said she felt they were from God. There was no outer life or family to distract her from her Divine mission.
Carmen Cereceda, Chilean muralist, and spiritual follower of Kirpal Singh, was Diego Rivera’s assistant and lived with him and Frida Kahlo. She became my mentor and godmother to my daughter. She said they are the most extraordinary paintings she has ever seen, pure Spirit, from a realm not ever witnessed before.
She took me to many places and held ‘salons’ in her studio. One Yoga Center Director said Alma had drawn the pattern the Tibetan thangkas were woven in. She recognized meditation symbols, i.e. Om, and arranged for me to see the Dalai Lama, who was in Toronto at the time.
Kalu Rinpoche, spiritual advisor to the Dalai Lama, identified 7 of 20 as Tibetan gods and deities, in correct postures and dress. (Rinopoche explained that there is no such thing as “free art” in Tibetan art. It is all spiitual, and you have to portray these deities in their proper mantle, the head-dress and mudra (position) and Alma did just that) He named seven deities, including the male and female aspects of the god, Indra; the Guardians of the Directions (North, South, East and West) and the Supreme God of all Gods. Alma was a fundamentalist Christian recluse from a small Ontario town, Huntsville and had no exposure to such things.
In 1978, Michael Greenwood, then Curator of Art at York University and faculty Professor of Art History, arranged a solo exhibition of Rumball’s work at the gallery and wrote in the catalogue essay on the notion of automatism. In it, Greenwood compares Alma’s phenomenon to William Blake who saw the inner eye and surrealist André Breton and his writings on pure psychic automatism. “In Alma Rumball’s drawings the phenomenon on psychic automatism is manifested in its purest form. What is also remarkable about the drawings, considering how effortlessly they came into being, is their formal consistency. No matter how intricate and densely woven, they still preserve an organic lucidity and shapeliness and possess an undeniable existence of their own as works of art.”
Her images of heaven and messages of peace may offer us a blueprint for living, plus a warning that if we do not change our ways, our fate could be similar to that of the lost civilization of Atlantis. Some drawings have writings on them; one is Alma Came To Earth As Joan of Arc. Another is Many Ghosts Are Alive But Are Controlled By God. Over two hundred pages are written on Atlantis, with abstract patterns above each page of writing.They have been called the sacred language of light, activation drawings, with codes embedded in them for the evolution of humanity at this time. These energies may be accessed through meditation.
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