Year of Residency: September - November 2016

Systems and Collaborations

My research is focused on fields of energy as they engage with conceptual thinking within art based languages and intuition driven modes of enquiry.

Much of my thinking is developed in sync with the growth of my biodynamic garden near Auckland in New Zealand. The non-linear principles of biodynamic and Goethean agricultural theory link to my practice in that I seek to unfold how things work and are interconnected in real time in the space with the viewer.

My projects operate on the proviso that all materials have vibrational qualities that are floating in a sea of energy and that when brought into certain proximities and arrangements together in space, can and do affect that space.

Many of the works are site and duration specific in that the site and time of placement function as materials that shape the formations that emerge. The processes engage faith in real time where artistic outcomes function as evidence of the potential for intuitive and nonlinear logics.

One of the research projects I am doing whist in residence at McCahon House is to use the September, October, and November light referred to by McCahon as a miracle, as sculptural material.

One of the ways I am doing this is by performing an action-based resonance technique called Agnihotra twice a day at sunrise and sunset for the duration of the three months residency.

Agnihotra is a Vedic super science utilising the element of fire, Pyramid power, the resonance of specific sounds ( Sanskrit mantra) and the major circadian rhythms of the planet ie. sunrise and sunset. This 15 minute twice daily practice harnesses energy (sunlight) onsite and uses it to re-harmonize the qualities of the atmosphere for approximately 12 kilometers up and ¾ of a km diameter from where it is done.

It has been demonstrated to have practical applications most notably in the later 80s and early 90s where it was attributed with eradicating a fungi called Sigatoka Negra that almost decimated Banana Plantations across vast regions of Peru.

With the residual ash from this procedure I am making a healing tree paste which I am applying to the trunk of six kauri trees on site.

The tree paste for each tree is made with ghee, clay and the ash from sunrise and sunset Agnihotras. I will be able to paint 6 trees while here in residence.

This procedure gives me one way to develop a working relationship that includes as its collaborators myself, light, and the kauri trees in the immediate region of the McCahon House, and feeds into my other studio based research I am also doing while in residence.

These trees, which are now suffering, and the sunlight present in 1958 functioned as powerful motifs for McCahons work The Wake. This project attempts to perform an Awake in service to ‘McCahons’ kauri trees and to embrace anew the structures that he used to develop his capacity to see beyond the visible realms of the material world.

The rhythm and focus on the daily acts of service and the painting of the six trees places the plight of these trees, and the human potential to engage light to heal, at the centre of this creative art-making problem.




Sarah Smuts-Kennedy has extensively exhibited in Australia, India, Korea and New Zealand since 2003. Smuts-Kennedy graduated with a MFA from Elam School of Fine Arts 2012. She has two strategies for art making which include a collaborative practice and a personal practice. Her personal practice is focused on a research-based investigation into fields of energy as they engage with conceptual thinking both within art-based languages and other intuition driven modes of enquiry. The collaborative practice allows her research to emerge in forms that are social and refer more directly to culture. Her biodynamic, permaculture teaching garden, 45 minutes north of Auckland, functions as a central axis for her research.

Sarah Smuts-Kennedy was born in Lower Hutt in 1966. Her work is held in significant collections including Art Bank Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia Adelaide, Macquarie Art Group Sydney, Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, Ten Cubed Melbourne, Deutsche Bank Sydney and the James Wallace Arts Trust NZ.

Recent exhibitions have been held at Rm Gallery (2013 & 2016), Malcolm Smith Gallery (2016), Breen Space Sydney (2013), Sophie Gannon Gallery Melbourne (2014 & 2016), tcb Gallery Melbourne (2016).  She is currently working on a asocial sculptural commission for Auckland City Council 2016-2018 called City Bee Collaboration.

Artists Website


Agnihotra comes from the Vedas- an ancient body of knowledge. It was reinvigorated by Shree Vasant Paranjpe who created the movement called Homa Therapy in the 1970s, writing his book Homa Therapy, Our Last Chance.

In the ancient tradition it is described as follows

“At sunrise the many fires, electricities, ethers and more subtle energies emanating from the sun extend all the way to the Earth and produce a flood effect at those coordinates where the sun is said to rise. The flood enlivens and purifies everything in its path, destroying what is impure in its wake…At sunset the flood recedes.”

Agnihotra is a process of purification of the atmosphere through the agency of fire prepared in a copper pyramid tuned to the biorhythms of nature corresponding to sunrise and sunset.

A small fire is built with dried organic cow patties in the pyramid and lit so that the fire peaks at the exact second of sunrise. This moment can be determined by checking the earth bound locators of longitude and latitude for your site. Mantra, geometry in sound, is inserted into the fire at this precise moment and rice and ghee offered twice after the word ‘Swaha’ during the 2-minute procedure.

The location for doing Agnihotra has been chosen to best utilize the procedure to help the Kauri Trees.  Smoke from the Agnihotra pyramid travels east in a counter clockwise spiral before traveling up moving simultaneously in an outward direction with a large concentration of the energies ‘thrust’ towards the north. The six trees that will be painted during the residency are all located east, and north east of the McCahon House Museum.

 The pyramid itself faces east as it is from this direction that the flood of energies, electricities and ethers come.

It is reported that plants grown in Agnihotra atmosphere evolve networks of veins that are cylindrical and larger than normal, permitting water and nutrients easier movement to all parts of the plant. This helps as a catalyst on plant metabolism that is speed up. The ghee used in the procedure is the catalytic factor creating a chemical reaction with the plant, aiding enzyme and vitamin production and encouraging and increasing the cyclic rate.

The ash when put onto the soil helps stabilize the amount of nitrogen and potassium present.

However “The Chemical reactions that take place where H2O, CO2 and CO are produced and the radiation of the visible and infra red light are less important than the more subtle structures of the fire where electrons jump from one atom to another like a flash of lightening. This causes some emissions’ on a very subtle level…..when it is practiced  a tremendous amount of nutrients and fragrance are injected into the atmosphere to replenish it. “

Vasant V. Paranjpe Homa Therapy Our Last Chance

Agnihotra is a system that harnesses what nature already does and amplifies it. It has been useful in environments where nature’s capacities to work as it once did have been compromised due to pollution, soil degradation and other factors.