Updated: Mar 13
It was so long ago I first learned of the amazing Alma Rumball (1902-1980), that I no longer remember quite where it was that I first saw her work and heard her story, but a fair guess would be perhaps with the award-winning 2005 documentary, ‘The Alma Drawings’, which was directed by Jeremiah Munce. I would definitely recommend seeing it if this blog entry peaks your interest about this extraordinary woman. I will link it to the bottom of this entry.
Alma lived most of her life in Muskoka, Ontario, minus some time spent in Toronto. As an adult she lived, producing her art, in a cottage by Fairy Lake in Huntsville, Muskoka. Initially her art was pretty and decorative while mundane, though this changed drastically in the 50’s when she had a vision of a visit by Jesus who was accompanied by a panther, and who informed her she would need to work for humanity through art. She then met her spirit guide Aba Pasha, and began with these channeled works through a sort of psychic automatism.
It is fascinating that this woman, a devout Christian, was the channel through which these works, rich with symbolism, including Tibetan and Mayan imagery, appeared. She was only able to interpret them through a Christian lens, and sadly, she apparently burned many drawings which said things which frightened her. Kalu Rinpoche, upon a visit when he accompanied H.H. the Dalai Lama to Toronto, was brought some of Alma’s drawings, and he stated not only did they show deities in the Tibetan pantheon, but they also were rendered exactly correctly, something which generally takes training. Alma also drew a series of images with writing, of Atlantis as well as images of Joan of Arc.
There is so much more to be said about this astounding woman and her connections to the spirit realm, but you would fare better watching the documentary rather than reading what I have to say. Check out the ‘Alma Matters’ website, run by the wife of Alma’s nephew, Wendy Oke, which contains some information and shares a good selection of the artwork as well.
Therefore, my last words on Alma. In an article Wendy wrote [linked below], she says “There is always an intense reaction when viewers interact with her artwork.” That really rang true for me. There are two pieces in the slideshow above, ‘Exotic Bird Bath’ and ‘Firmament” which were instantly recognizable and so familiar to me, from lands I have seen doing spiritual journey work, I was surprised and delighted to see these exact same magical and somehow liquid landscapes translated onto paper. I hope to see Alma’s work studied so much more, her work is so full of symbology and likely incredibly rich with coded messages for us. Unfortunately I have never been able to find too many larger sized images to study, the ones on the website are quite small and difficult to see detail in. Hopefully more study will be done on Alma, and possibilities to see her work in larger format will arrive!
Art Images above from the Alma Matter website listed in order: Young Alma, Cat 1, Exotic Birdbath, Firmament, Abas Mission, Fairy with Bubble Babies, Chariot of Light, Rainbow Spirit, Winged Serpent, Guardian of the North, Female Indra, Older Alma.
Alma Matters: http://www.almamatters.ca/
You can view the documentary here: https://www.cultureunplugged.com/documentary/watch-online/play/54280/The-Alma-Drawings
Inspired Journeys with Artistic Pioneer Alma Rumball: https://lifeasahuman.com/2014/virtual-art-gallery/drawings-and-sketches/inspired-journeys-with-artistic-pioneer-alma-rumball/