kali van der merwe

out of the blue

Celebrating female form, eroticism and sensuality

as an expression of the divine and the deepest self

Kali van der Merwe in collaboration with Rhianne van der Linde


download sample pdf of out of the blue book


It's never too late... article by Cathy Eden, published in Femina

o u t  o f  t h e  b l u e


by Kali van der Merwe


“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

Carl Gustav Jung


The sensual and erotic is a deeply personal, space. The energies of pleasure, intimacy, bliss, desire, delight, joy, happiness, satisfaction are all forces felt in the body and deny any intellectualisation. Sensuality is about honouring the body and its immense capacity for experience, healing and creativity. Societies which give expression and importance to sensual and erotic energies have been shown to be less aggressive and destructive.


The body presents deep truths about ourselves. Taking off your clothes strips you of personal history. Nakedness is freeing, recapturing childhood and innocence. It is like going back to the beginning and reliving your birth outside of chronological time. There is an intimate relationship between nakedness and the three great acts of life – birth, love and death.


Water is present at all our most important moments and functions in life. In conception, the sperm swims to meet the egg and afterwards our actual formation takes place in water inside the womb. We are truly amphibious creatures, even our imminent birth is signalled by the breaking of the waters. Our significant emotional moments are accompanied by water: in tears of laughter, joy and sadness. Our bodies are mostly water - with everything needing to be dissolved in some way in order to be transformed, transported and absorbed. And at death - the water flows out of us, we dry up and desiccate. Humans are creatures deeply dependent on water: to create new life, to love, to feel, to cry, to metabolise and to survive.


In this portrait series I am seeking to honour and celebrate female energy and essence. So often it is this aspect of women that is so crassly commercialised to sell products or manipulated for male voyeurism. This project was intended as a journey of self-discovery and healing. It is an exploration female sensuality and eroticism in its purity, in connection with the elements and spiritual aspects - in touch with the deepest part of the self and the divine.


If I have to truly explain the process of taking these photographs – I can only say that something happened that I did not consciously shape. I know this because I couldn’t see what I was doing. I couldn’t get my eye near the eye-piece of the camera. I shot blind. It became a process of sensing rather than seeing. I was blessed to have the most exquisite being to play with - Rhianne who is a profound explorer and water energy dancer.

o u t  o f  t h e  b l u e


by Rhianne van der Linde


I want to be seen. I want to show myself to the “other” as I am - no hiding, no holding back, no secrets. Will the other see all of me and accept me in my totality?


The seed for this project was planted on a weekend journey into the “Klein Karoo”. On that trip, a small group of women gathered together on retreat – our individual and collective intentions being to explore our sexual energy; deepening our connections to our selves, and working in awareness with our awakening kundalini energy.


Kali documented the weekend with her camera, capturing both the agony and ecstasy of our deep processing. Lying naked in the baking hot sun on the grassy bank of a small farm dam, I knew that I wanted to create something with Kali. I tentatively mentioned that I would be interested in exploring my body – it’s sensual and sexual expression – in the medium of water. Nothing tentative about Kali! She was all in from the get go and suddenly what had started off slowly took on an impetus and expression of its own.


For me, this series of photos is an expression of my truest, deepest self. Raw, vulnerable and undefended. I am in my element in water. Surrounded, contained and dissolved by its amniotic matrix. Immersed in its cool, enveloping fluid... dissolving, disappearing, dying so that a new regenerated form can emerge. Solid transmuting into liquid, returning to the primordial womb for rebirth. In many creation myths, water is the original material out of which the world is created – an element of alchemical transformation. Solutio. Dissolve and coagulate.


I feel my life as movement. Cyclical, seasonal, constantly evolving, circulating, spiralling. No longer linear or sequential, all of the energies of the archetype of the Great Mother yearning for expression in a single moment - maiden, mother, wise woman. Weaving and interlacing all of her faces and aspects, now one, now the other. The feminine is about transformation, transforming darkness into the light of love. Feminine energy is holding, healing, unconditional and embraces all. Allowing, entering into a state of beingness that cannot judge but simply perceives what is.


These pictures are the result of being with what is in the moment – not foreclosing on it, not needing to change it; feeling deeply into the pleasure and the pain until exquisite joy explodes out of the bitter sweet of felt experience. Floating in water, boundaryless, disappearing into the solvent, becoming the water. Where do I end and where does the water begin? Static, rigid, boundaries, fixed, mixed, melting, transcending. Awakening within the dream. Am I the dreamer or am I being dreamed? Accepting that the hard won separateness and autonomy of ego consciousness must transmute in order to evolve into a new consciousness. Knowing that death is the key to open me.


Dropping out of my mind, falling into my matter. Slow, deep, dark, moist, vast, void. Mind over matter turned inside, outside, upside down.


My spirituality and my sexuality are not polarities. They are an expression of each other. The “Sacred prostitute”, the “Pregnant Virgin”, I too am the mystery of paradox. I am a unique expression of the feminine divine. I honour, value and celebrate the feminine. I bask in recovered feeling. Being in my body, with acute awareness of its pleasure, its desire, its capacity for bliss. In these photographs, I choose to follow my bliss, to explore my pleasure, to express my desire. Naked, unclothed, unveiled beingness. I choose to abandon the collective path and find my own individual way. Unfolding, slowly, shyly, courageously, I drop into “The bliss of emptiness”, “I am love, I am the lover and I am the beloved”


Underwater, moving beneath the surface into meditation. Entering the silent nucleus of experience, feeling into the sensation of my body carving its presence in time and space. Feeling deeply into the cells of my body, noticing, feeling into the gaps and also the spaces between the gaps. Dropping out of my mind, falling into my matter. Slow, deep, dark, moist, vast, void. Mind over matter turned inside, outside, upside down. Profoundly peaceful, all embracing and encompassing, passive, receptive, yielding, surrendered. My strength is in my spaciousness and in the stillness of my centre. There is power in my surrender. I choose life, spontaneity and energy. I am neither form nor function. Not role, not measure, not restraint. I am formless, subtle, embodied, rapture, delight!

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