top Greetings from London Christine Lambie, editor

Sometimes people say to me, 'I know insight's not intended for me, but I do enjoy reading it.'  If you're reading this, the newsletter is for YOU - All readers are welcome.  Please feel free to forward insight to anyone who might enjoy reading it.  

I've been tutoring Part 2 on 'true happiness' this term.  It's been a treat to explore the subject with a wonderful group of students here in London.  

Have a happy Easter,

Christine Lambie, Editor


Tanya Russell sculpting

Tanya Russell, inspirational founder of successful art college, tells her story 
Agato-San Shrine

Read about this surprising Shinto Shrine in Japan
vedic astrology
A scientific system for understanding how the planets influence us
Vedic Astrology
Tanya Russell, Principal
Story1Insight's first alumni article: Tanya attended classes for many years;

her father was the leader of the Guildford branch of the School in the UK.  Tanya's artistic training was, unusually, an apprenticeship with her parents.  Already established as an artist herself, in 2000, she founded The Art Academy, to give young artists a thorough training without losing their enthusiasm and talent.


The Art Academy

Tanya Russell, London


The Art Academy
Watch clip of the Art Academy

What does the Academy teach?  How is it different to other art colleges?

The Art Academy is unusual because unlike most art universities we teach skills. Skills give you the tools to express yourself, so that you are able to choose what to say without being limited in how you say it.  Some of the best professional artists available teach our students, for more time than almost anywhere else, 26 contact hours a week on the Diploma course.

At the Academy we balance creative and professional development with traditional and contemporary technique classes. In 2d classes you can learn basic painting skills, or develop your understanding of abstraction and the language of varied 2d materials. 3d skills include sculpture, ceramics, wood, stone, contemporary materials, plastics and fabrication materials and performance and installation work. We now also hold '4d' classes in our digital suite, which include film making and digital photography techniques.

Art is only appreciated by people and through the language of art, people can

be inspired to help others, and all that exists in our world.  Art is no different to speech; words spoken with heartfelt meaning, passion and clarity are very powerful.  It is fundamental to me that artists speak about what they know and care about. It takes huge amounts of care and thought to give each individual what they need, as everyone and every situation is different; this requires a nurturing community.

I hope that the Art Academy might influence mainstream colleges to adapt their focus back to running courses with more tutor contact-time, teaching of skills, professional understanding and individual creative vision.  And I would like The Academy to make every person who comes through the doors: students, staff, tradesmen etc. a tiny bit richer when they leave than when they came. 

What obstacles did you have to overcome?

The biggest obstacle was my complete lack of knowledge in almost every area, but this was also the most fun and still is - I learn so much every day. I do not really do anything and I am not really an expert in anything.  My main job seems to be like a conductor keeping together all the amazing people with huge skills doing what they do best. I am so grateful to everyone who has helped over the years.

How is the Academy placed now?  

Next year we expect to have more than 100 students on courses lasting a year or more, and we now fill over 1,575 places on shorter courses, all after only 15 years! We have a wonderful team, who've really pulled everything together in spite of the recession: growing the Academy's turnover 14% last year and an even higher 22% this year from our short public courses. What

this means is that we can help more people from different backgrounds on our certificate courses. A huge number of our alumni are now gaining commissions, having exhibitions and winning prizes.

You did an apprenticeship with your father?  How would you describe your own art?  

Looking at the mainstream art colleges, I was disappointed with the work produced, so I decided to do an apprenticeship with my parents. There are great benefits in this system; I really learnt how to work hard and how to survive as an artist.  I learnt fundamental skills and developed a strong style to move forward professionally. What apprenticeship cannot give is a more rounded education, including academic understanding and the opportunity to study and understand much broader techniques and ideas in art. So the Academy tries to combine the best of these two worlds. 

In my own practice I do public and private commissions in a similar vein to my parents, but more recently I am developing my work following my own interests. Animal well-being is my greatest interest and I have been doing commissions to raise money for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and am also developing a body of work around animal welfare, animal suffering and the beauty in nature.

How has your experience in the School prepared you for founding and developing the Academy?  

In the School, people give freely and work at things with such amazing mental stamina and focus; this was a real inspiration for me growing up. Setting up

the Academy has been tough emotionally at times. It's sometimes easier to dwell on mistakes I make, so I have to be quite tough with myself in moments of self-doubt and personal neediness.  After 35 years in the School, I have complete confidence that if you completely surrender, the universe gives you what you need. I have a permanent feeling of immense gratitude and an enjoyment of continual new opportunities.

Studying philosophy as I grew up gave me a never-ending love of enquiry. Art and art education are wonderful for this; there are never any complete and right answers - just constant fascinating questions and debates that spread a little light here and there.

I have to thank the School for its huge support over the years, both for me personally and in establishing the Academy, without which it would not have been possible.

What's your vision for art in the coming decades?

It is said that after the industrial and then digital revolutions, the next big

step is the creative revolution.  Ideally, creative thinking will power people to be more intelligent, humane and creative in developing and caring for our whole world. All this can only happen if art education is again given the attention that it needs. 

If I ever get fed up in the office, I go and walk around the studios and speak to the students.  Seeing the amazing work they are doing and hearing them say how it has genuinely changed their lives, makes it all worthwhile.

Top Tips: recommended by readers

Tim's Vermeer Trailer
Tim's Vermeer trailer


1. Film: Tim's Vermeer.  A fascinating documentary film about the method Vermeer may have used to create his remarkable paintings.  Watch the trailer here.


2. Book: Tattvopadesha, The Teaching of Reality.  This work, translated for the first time into English is now available on Kindle.  Go to KindleTattvo.

3.   10 Principal Upanishads. An audio CD of the Upanishads, translated by Yeats and Purohit Swami. Go to SESBookshop to order a copy. 

4.  Economics Monitor.  For some years, the Economics department in London has produced a newsletter.  Now available online as a blog - go to EconMon


In April 2006, Elena Jessup and her husband Warwick went to Kyoto, the City of Ten Thousand Shrines.  In Japan, Kyoto retains its status as a centre of culture with countless temples and shrines.


Sacred Sites: Atago-San, near Kyoto

Elena Jessup, London

Elena at Atago-San
Elena at Atago-San

During our stay in Kyoto, we visited the most incredible sites, all enhanced by the famous cherry blossoms in perfect bloom.  However, the most profound place for me was a little-known Shinto shrine known as Atago-San, about an hour's train ride from Kyoto.  This shrine seemed worth a visit, as it is over 1300 years old and is an important pilgrimage site for the worship of the Shinto god of fire.  It is still in use today by the Mountain Ascetics, priests who combine the practice of Buddhism and Shintoism.  Since it is located on top of the highest mountain in the vicinity of Kyoto, we also thought we would get a good hike out of it.  However, what started out as a country jaunt soon turned into a profound journey.


The bus dropped us off in the village of Kiyotaki, located in a stunning gorge filled with trees bearing early spring leaves and, of course, cherry blossoms.  We each had a green-tea ice cream, and thus fortified, made our way to the trailhead.  The path was immediately steep and continued that way.  This had the effect of stopping our conversation, since we had to conserve our breath.  From that quiet I began to notice that the side of the trail was punctuated by little shrines.  Many were dedicated to Jizo, the guardian Bodhisattva.  There were other, more baffling shrines, such as one dedicated to a tree that had been struck by lightning.  As my mind became increasingly quiet, I worshipped at each shrine by falling quiet and repeating our mantra in my mind.  I don't think this was the traditional Japanese way of walking this particular pilgrimage, but it seemed to make sense to me.

We finally reached the shrine, after hours of a relentless uphill climb.  At this point, I was desperate to see the deity to whom we had dedicated so much effort.  The shrine itself was small and deserted, and it was windy and cold.  Entering the main building, we made our way to the altar.  There, the only object of worship was a mirror reflecting our windswept faces and the natural beauty behind us.  We had come all this way to worship ourselves.

On reflection, I learned something really important.  As a member of a Judeo-Christian, Western society, one is brought up believing that monotheism is the pinnacle of religious thought and is akin to Advaita Vedanta.  However, I realised that so-called polytheism is just as valid and, in fact, is just the flip side of monotheism.  One God, many gods - they are all really expressing the divinity of our own Self.

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Lily is the labrador puppy who lives with Donald Lambie, the leader of the School and his wife, the editor. Many people asked for more from Lily, so here she is again.
Lily's hotel
Lily's Hotel

Letter from Lily


I've just been to a hotel for the first time.  I arrived and got out of the car and was met by a charming receptionist saying, 'Hello Lily.  Here's your room, here's your bed etc'.  I could get used to this.  Even the treats were ready for me.  There was an en suite garden - just what a dog wants.  Ok it wasn't quite like that, but it was pretty good. 


I see lots of links in this newsletter, so here's one from me.  It's Fenton, a true Hero Dog.  You'll notice that he's a black labrador, just like me.  I should warn you, there's some bad behaviour in that clip. It's the man swearing - really it's quite 

Fenton, my Hero!
Fenton, my Hero!

atrocious.  Chasing the Queen's deer in Richmond Park - well, people seem to take that quite seriously - I can't think why.  Actually I'm quite good at chasing livestock and evading capture myself!  

Wags and licks, 

Love from Lily xx



Story3Gordon, senior student in London, is an enthusiast of Vedic Astrology. It is a highly mathematical and exact study, distinct from the vague horoscopes of tabloid newspapers. His love for this subject has demanded extensive study including a 5-year
postgraduate course, as well as Sanskrit language. Gordon also runs the London School's bookshop.

Gordon Brennan
Vedic Astrology
Gordon Brennan, London
I was never interested in astrology, assuming it to be mainly the form of public entertainment everyone reads in newspapers. But in the School I had the opportunity to join a group studying Vedic Astronomy or Jyotish, as it is called in Sanskrit. I discovered that this is also astrology, as it is only in the last few hundred years with the advent of modern science that astronomy and astrology have diverged.

What is Vedic Astrology?
The system is based on what happens to nine 'planets' ie the 7 visible planets plus 2 intersecting orbits - precisely as observed in the sky. The system is sidereal (based on the stars); it uses the influences of the planets seen against the background of the sky or zodiac. In the Indian tradition, the astrologer reveals for the client the significance of the planetary movements. Interestingly, in this ancient Indian science, the speed of light was accurately known!

What does a qualified astrologer do?
Mainly advice on current situations: an astrologer is an adviser for anyone who needs help. Usually a client comes when he/she wants help as to what direction life is taking.

Advice can also be given for choosing suitable times for new initiatives. For example, one factor in choosing a time relates to the energy available for the task. Another shows whether it will be personally satisfying. A third relates to efficiency. A fourth shows how the mind is affected and a fifth shows how the rest of the society will help or hinder. These apparently diverse influences are due to precise astronomical factors.
The amazing thing is that there is really only one astrology chart for the whole world at any time. The individual just plugs into it according to where and when he is born, or when he asks a question of the astrologer. The birth chart shows your nature. The whole of the universe, with its planetary and stellar systems, provides the insights.

How is a consultation conducted?
Traditionally a consultation is done face to face. The chart is pages of technical information, now normally produced instantly by a computer. Skill is still needed to interpret the chart. The exact date, time and place of birth of the client are required. From this a chart of the heavens is generated.

For young people the astrologer might indicate where their talents lie and what they will try to achieve in their lives. The chart shows the natural abilities of a person and what they will aim for in their lifetime; thus career advice is popular. For couples, astrologers can give advice on how compatible their two natures are.
Annual chart readings are also popular, as a new chart is available for each year. An annual chart is found with reference to the position of the sun or the moon in the birth chart and the planetary positions when the Sun or Moon arrives at exactly the same degree of the zodiac in the current year.

Can you make predictions?
Predictions are possible, but not generally easy. The astrologer can be misled into some related but not quite correct prediction, which is not much use. You can only predict what is already 'programmed'. Because most people act according to their nature, predictions are possible.
There are many famous instances of predictions, for example Indian astrologers predicted World War II. The time of the emancipation of India from rule by foreign powers was predicted some 500 years ago. Some astrologers predict the coming of a great soul; the Magi/Zoroastrian astrologers foretold the birth of Jesus Christ.

Isn't astrology basically fatalistic? Is there a conflict between a person's nature, as readable in their chart, and an aim of personal freedom?
The horoscope is a picture brought about by nature, so it can be read like a picture. Informing a person about where desire has brought them in their life can equally be used as an encouragement to self-development. So in my experience, astrology normally helps clients to have confidence in the future, dispelling fears and trepidation.

What contacts have you made?
We went to conferences in America and joined up with two experienced astrologers in the UK to enlarge BAVA, the British Association for Vedic Astrology, established in 1996. Now, each April, we host a small international conference in London at Mandeville Place and we publish a journal. BAVA is a small but very influential organisation for professionals and serious students of Jyotish from all over the world. Jyotish is growing quickly worldwide.

For a simple overview, Gordon recommends 'Astrology of the Seers' by David Frawley. Go to BAVA for information about the British Association for Vedic Astrology
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Reader Feedback

As always, thanks for reading!


Its 12:30pm and I'm finishing some work. I should really go to sleep, but this line made me laugh out loud:"Then I come in to lie on my sofa.  (It's my sofa as they had to buy another one when I came along - we couldn't all three fit on MY sofa.)" The image of you both buying a whole sofa for your dog is too funny. Congratulations on the bumper enrolment numbers - that's superb. All the best, Perth, Australia


Loved the Newsletter and the practical examples of the teaching in action. I am pleased to know that the School is thriving and loved the example of pylon radiating energy. Keep up the good work, Christchurch NZ


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