I was born in 1971 to an Egyptian mother and English father, raised in London, and after completing my degree at Goldsmiths, University of London spent the following 4 years living and working in Padova, Italy; New York City and Tokyo.
I returned to London in 1998 and over the following 5 years continued to work and train with a range of crafts and processes.
In 2003, when I was 32, I had a very powerful heart opening experience with the Seiki Master Kishi-San. Somehow in that moment, I was able to centre myself more in my heart in ways that had a profound impact on my body/mind.
Spontaneous movement and vocal expression became potently available to me at no expense to feeling grounded or a regular sense of ‘being Stephen’.
That’s not actually true…in a strange way, I felt more regular than ever - closer to ordinary than I’d ever felt. Paradoxically the more I moved in ways I’d never moved before or made sounds or spoken languages I’d never known the more it felt simple and ordinary. That was the strangest part of it all - how strange it didn’t feel.
As I tried to make sense as to what was going on, I found it was something that could be explored with others. When I sat with them and engaged from this space of heart connection there was a similar experience of lucid spontaneity for them too. Once again they felt more ordinary than ever as their bodies moved in ways they had never imagined. At any point, they could stop the movement, as it wasn’t involuntary, but it felt like it was coming from a deeper place in them.
For the first few years, I mostly explored this connection in a healing context, as I had been a full-time healing practitioner back in 2003. I saw that my clients were letting go of a lot physically and emotionally as they moved their bodies into clearer alignment and vibrancy. It wasn’t uncommon to notice a sense of rejuvenation and increased youthfulness as they experienced themselves more from their hearts.
As fulfilling as it was to support my clients to heal, my heart was telling me that there was a lot more to explore than simply helping people get ‘back to normal’. If someone had come to see me with back pain and then through their heart centred movements the back became better - for them it often was the end of the journey whilst for me, it felt like it could be just the beginning. I wanted to explore what impact living more from heart could have on all parts of someone’s life not just when they were out of balance. I figured I should start with myself and wanted to see what impact it could have on my own creativity.
Up to 2005, I had a lot of ‘artistic impulses’ but had never had any formal training. From the age of 14, I had explored my creativity predominantly through photography and dance and was mostly self-taught. For the 2 years after the opening with Kishi-San I was aware of the intensifying and speeding up of the spontaneous movements and wanted to somehow capture them. I went to a local art shop and bought a roll of beautiful Italian heavyweight paper 150cm tall and a stick of thick charcoal. The moment I entered the shop I heard a voice of my ego. It sounded similar to Billy Elliot’s father early in the film before he embraces his son as a dancer. “What are you doing? What on earth is the point of doing this? Why are you wasting your money? Haven’t you got more important things to do?” Without any effort, I found myself somehow COMPLETELY ignoring the voice and proceeded to buy the materials, take them home and then cut a piece off of the roll about a metre wide and tape it to the living room wall.
I stood there with the stick of charcoal in my hand feeling incredibly vulnerable and exposed. Whilst I enjoyed photography immensely and had the sense I had a decent albeit amateur eye I had no confidence whatsoever that I could draw or paint - at all.
The Billy Elliot dad voice intensified and I stood my ground. I closed my eyes and waited. I connected to my heart and after a few seconds my arm floated upwards slowly as if being pulled by magnets. Everything went quiet in my head and after what seemed like an eternity the charcoal came to rest on the paper with my arm pretty much outstretched above my head. I waited again. I felt a growing intensity of energy that was almost unbearable to hold coursing through my body as my hand shook on the paper tightly gripping the charcoal. My heart whispered to me - ‘wait’ and right up to the moment I thought I couldn’t take the intensity any more my arm and hand made one rapid powerful downward spiralling movement. I opened my eyes and looked at the drawing and was stunned. I see a self-portrait of me in spontaneous movement, in profile, with one hand above my head, one in front of my face, my chest forward and my behind sticking out.
In that moment that particular Billy Elliot dad voice disappeared forever and my journey as an artist opened up. Over the following year, I continued to explore drawing on paper but as my speed of spontaneous movement increased I became aware of the limits of drawing on paper with charcoal. My heart suggested I try taping some small LED torch lights to my fingers and photographing the movements with long exposure. This wasn’t some sentimental way of looking back on it - I literally heard my heart whisper - go buy some small torches - tape them to your fingers - black out the room and set the camera to take continuous exposures. The heart is very specific.
I loved the explorations and the freedom of moving in space without being restricted by the limits of speed or pressure of charcoal against paper. After a lot of 1st aspect experiments with different camera settings, I started to create decent path captures.
I visited Cape Town in 2006 and had arranged to do a shoot in a large studio space. I taped 4 small torches to my fingers and started as I had done many times before, starting the camera to shoot in continuous mode with a 3-second exposure. I centred myself in my heart and as my body started to move spontaneously I felt comfortable in the familiarity of it all. My arms and hands started to make large arcs above my head and picked up speed moving faster and faster. About 3 minutes into it I suddenly felt an intensifying in the connection and knew something deeper was coming through in my movements. I felt this for about 18 seconds and knew the camera would be capturing something quite different. After another 3 minutes, the camera stopped - reaching its maximum for continuous shooting. Once I had uploaded the photos onto the computer I immediately went to the midpoint of the batch of photos guessing approximately where that 18 seconds would be recorded as 6 photos. I scrolled through and then stopped as I saw this photo. I knew that in this heart centred space something more deeply intelligent than I could ever ‘try and make’ was coming through my body’s movements.
Over the years that followed I continued to explore both the photography and the drawing as well as collaborating with other artists and performing the movements to audiences. I still carried on working with clients one-on-one and in groups and found the more I explored my own creativity that became mirrored in the clients that were coming. Increasingly I was meeting people who wanted support to bring more passion, creativity and freedom into their lives and work whether they were artists or not.
The more I shared this heart centred photography, drawing and video work the more I discovered that a similar albeit less pronounced effect was occurring and that people looking or listening to the work found themselves sometimes going into spontaneous movement and greater heart depth themselves without me being there.
This excited me very much. From a very early age, I was fascinated by art and what impact it could have on an audience. I wanted to understand why some art left me feeling expanded and inspired whilst other work left me feeling heady and fragmented.
In February 2017 it was early morning and I was just starting to wake up. I was somewhere in-between being half awake and half asleep and could hear my heart’s voice a little louder than usual. For the next 90 minutes, I listened to it describe the entire blueprint for The Fembot Oracle and how I would create it.
My heart said that I could use a framework of 78 archetypes that would map out and express my 3aspect model. Each of the images would be made from heart centred spontaneous movements captured by light drawing and long exposure photography and each of the texts would be written from a similar space of heart centred space.
After the 90 minutes, I got out of bed and wrote down everything I’d heard and immediately started to map out the 78 archetypes.
From that February morning over the next 9 months, I worked full-time to bring it to life. Over the following 4 months, I created the 78 images and then took 5 months to write the texts for each one.
Through 2018 I explored how The Fembot Oracle could support my clients and myself to live more from heart, and to my delight every day I discovered more and more ways.
In April 2019 I wrote the introduction and from my explorations over the course of 2018, created 5 protocol videos. I then decided to make The Fembot Oracle freely available as an e-book.
I work to this day, and have done over the last 16 years since my experience with Kishi-San, to support people with a passion for both engaging with life and exploring their spiritual depths to live more from heart. If you would like to find out more about how I can perhaps support you click on the work with me section above.
Exhibitions & Performances
Fembots - Solo Show - Photographic Work
Dalston Superstore, London
24th September 2015 - 24th November 2015
Heckles Horse - Billy Childish Studio Group Exhibition - Group Show - Monoprints
Sun Pier House, Chatham
23rd June 2015 - 11th July 2015
Songs for a Summer Night - Solo and Group Performances
Battersea Barge, London
22nd June 2015
Hearts - Solo Show - Drawing Work
19 Greek Street Gallery, Soho, London
December 12th 2014 - January 30th 2015
L'appartment du Progres - Group Show - Photographic Work
19 Greek Street Gallery, Soho, London
December 12th 2014 - January 26th 2015
Fembots - Solo Show - Photographic Work
Fiveseventen, Earls Court, London
December 4th 2014 - May 2015
Motion and eMotion - Performance with Neil Seligman and Helena Winkelman
The Burghof, Germany
14th April 2010
Chiarascuro - Group Show - Photographic Work
Ada Street Gallery, London Fields, London
11th-14th December 2008