Margaret Hunter: a Jungian Analysis

By Anna Lisa Stone | University of St Andrews | School of Art History

Chapter 2: A Personal Umbruch: Berlin 1985-1993

This chapter will focus on the work Margaret Hunter produced in Berlin from the time she moved there in 1985 until 1993.1 During that time she witnessed the fall of Soviet communism in Eastern Europe, the reunification of Germany, and the hardships and uncertainties experienced by people from both sides as they adapted to a life spent together after so long divided. All of this is reflected in her art. In the midst of this momentous historical and political change, Hunter’s work metamorphosed from conventional and unconvincing to energetic, spontaneous and palpably authentic. I will argue that this transformation was fundamentally made possible by her ability to “tap into” her subconscious in a way that she had not found possible in Scotland.2 This faculty was enabled, I will assert, through a combination of temporarily leaving Scotland, lessons from her teacher Baselitz, and, crucially, being a stranger in a foreign city. The result was a radical new style.

For the sake of clarity I have divided this chapter into two parts. In the first part I will examine some examples of the key changes that defined this new style: Hunter’s use of animal symbols, her “scumbling” painting method, and a turn to primitivism. By drawing on the theories of Carl Jung, I will argue that all of these evidence Hunter engaging with her unconscious. The second part of the chapter will look specifically at work Hunter produced during this period that addresses the social and political divisions of Berlin. As well as these external divisions, I will argue that it is also possible to trace internal divisions in Hunter’s art, a growing awareness of the fundamental split in her psyche caused – or so Jung would argue – by her having to push the “masculine” principles to the forefront of her consciousness. However, Hunter’s paintings also manifest a preoccupation with mending and healing those divides. This, I will conclude, relates to the process of healing the divisions within her personal life and in her own psyche, as she reconciles those two conflicting parts to reach a fuller, more resolved sense of Self.

Part One

Animal Symbols

Figure 8 Margaret Hunter, Woman Holding Snail, 1985/6
Woman Holding Snail [8] was painted “in the early Berlin days”,3 yet the difference between this painting and those she was producing in Scotland is already profound. No longer frustrated or confused, it is original, essential and monumental. Hunter has clearly joined her tutor Baselitz in his mission to conjure forth the presence of a free and independent human being.4 The art school trappings of domestic adornment and worn-out tropes have been replaced by a stretch of dark canvas, scratched into by shadows of fundamentalised female forms that support the central figure in this psychological cosmos. She is beckoned from one side, perhaps by thoughts and feelings of home; but her legs are pointing in the other direction, rooted somewhere off the canvas, somewhere unknown. The transformation of the Girl who stood at the Window could not be more complete. Holding a snail under one arm, Hunter’s woman is no longer caged by conventions: she is speaking symbols.

I believe Woman Holding Snail is a milestone not just of Hunter’s artistic development, but also of her psychological progression since leaving Scotland. Under the guidance of Baselitz, Hunter had gained an incisive direction of thought through intensive and uninhibited drawing. As she recalls, “the very first time he saw my work he said that my ideas were confused, and to clarify them I had to draw, draw, draw!”5 To Baselitz, himself so concerned with provoking a psychological response from his audience,6 one can postulate that the solution for clarifying Hunter’s work must have been clear: she must initiate a dialogue with her unconscious. Interestingly, his method chimes with Jung’s observations about the unconsciously-informed image, which, he theorises, can only be produced when inhibition is exerted by the conscious mind on the unconscious: “the advantage of this method is that it brings a mass of unconscious material to light.”7 Hunter admits that these drawings manifested a level of engagement with her unconscious that she had never experienced before: “these were free expressions of the imagination and they allowed subconscious ideas to surface. Those drawings made during that time could never have been done in Scotland.”8

Perversely, then, it seems that being away from her children, forced physically and psychologically to distance herself from her natural role as a mother, made Hunter more acutely aware of what that role meant. For Woman Holding Snail is surely a painting about motherhood. With one hand she touches her stomach, or womb, which seems at once hollow yet glows with feeling – the same hue as that glimmering call from the left. In that same arm she holds the snail. For Hunter, the snail – carrying its house on its back – seemed pertinent to her situation and so she used it to symbolise feelings of homesickness and the rapid internalisation of everything she held dear.9 But intriguingly the snail, and particularly its spiral shell, has been important for thousands of years as a signifier of the female principle and motherhood. In ancient Mexico snail shells were associated with the life god Quetzalcoatl, and interpreted as a symbol of birth and generation.10 In Celtic and Pictish art too, the spiral was considered to symbolise growth, birth, motherhood, the womb and fertility.11 It has also been related to the moon, which in some ancient cosmologies is considered to be a negative (and therefore female) planet, and to water, which is also traditionally regarded as female.12

Why Margaret Hunter should find herself in Berlin, in a completely new environment, unwittingly painting symbols that have been important for thousands of years, can perhaps be understood through reference to Jung’s theory of “natural symbols”.13 Natural symbols, according to Jung, are derived from “unconscious contents of the psyche” and can in many cases still be traced back to archaic roots, “ie to ideas and images that we meet in the most ancient records and primitive societies.”14 So far this description fits Hunter’s snail; it also suggests, if Jung is theorising correctly, that Hunter has started to engage with her unconscious through painting. Indeed, Jung’s theory becomes more relevant to Hunter as it goes on, positing that natural symbols, and in fact any symbol that impresses itself unasked upon one’s consciousness, are “natural attempts to reconcile and reunite opposites within the psyche.”15

Applying this Jungian analysis throws a valuable light on Hunter’s situation, psychologically torn between the assertiveness and, to some degree, selfishness required in pursuing her career as an artist and her elemental identity as a mother. The snail can be seen not just as evidence of an engagement with essential, archetypal feelings shared universally for thousands of years, but as an attempt to harmonise those two sides of her psyche. As Jolande Jacobi says of Jung’s theory: “symbols provide the necessary bridges, linking and reconciling the often seemingly irreconcilable contradictions between the two “sides”.”16

Animal symbols in general became very important for Hunter when she first moved to Berlin and was unable to communicate verbally, because they represented a menagerie of feelings she could not put into words.17 Apart from the snail, the hedgehog was also central [9] – conjured from the prickly attitude of the people, particularly women, whom she met there, who refused to speak English so that they were not put in a disadvantaged position.18 Hunter’s personal borders and limitations, as well as the barbed-wire boundaries of West Berlin, were undoubtedly similarly scrolled into the hedgehog’s spines.

Hunter recalls that the animal symbols gradually disappeared as her command of the German language increased.19 Yet although their representative forms disintegrated, certain defining features were carried forward and assimilated into her figures – the spiral from the snail, the spikes of the hedgehog, for instance. This fascinating process is seen in Recurrent Themes (Study) I and II, [9] as the hedgehog evolves into a human figure, but its spikey membrane lingers like scars. The study and sculpture of Janus Head [10] show a more advanced stage of the same development.

Figure 9a Margaret Hunter, Recurrent Themes (Study) I, 1990

Figure 9b Margaret Hunter, Recurrent Themes (Study) II, 1990

Figure 10a Margaret Hunter, Janus Head Study,

Figure 10b Margaret Hunter, Janus Head Sculpture, n.d.

By absorbing those animal traits, Hunter’s figures appear to inherit the same qualities and associations. This seems relatively straightforward. For example, in Recurrent Themes as the hedgehog evolves into a human figure, it maintains those ideas of defence, now protecting an inner face, perhaps a fragile inner Self, with its spines. In Janus Head, too, the copper stitches sewing the two faces together gain new significance when traced back to the barbed-wire beginnings of the hedgehog’s spikes: they are now united through pain, shame and all that the fencing represented.

However, once again I would posit that an extra layer of significance may be discovered by looking at Jungian theory. Aniela Jaffé theorises that animal symbols in their totality are “autonomous emotions erupting from the unconscious” and therefore signify the most primordial stage of psychic nature, which is instinct.20 This is why, Jungians argue, there is a boundless profusion of animal symbolism in the art, and also the religion, of all times.21 However, the coinciding emergence of semi-human images – people possessing animal features or garbed in animal disguises – represents a more advanced psychological relationship with the unconscious.22 Jaffé uses the masks used in rituals of primitive societies to illustrate the point. She argues that, although the fusion of animal and human is symbolic, it is also deeply psychological: “in psychological terms, the mask transforms its wearer into an archetypal image.”23

Figure 11 Margaret Hunter, Adieu, 1989
This idea that an animal’s “spiritual” properties should become psychologically synonymous with their image when incorporated into the human figure is particularly illuminating when considering Hunter’s gradual integration of the snail into the stomach of her figures. In Adieu (1989) [11], the spiral is so completely absorbed, in fact, that the arm that once bent to carry the snail in Woman Holding Snail has kept its position but has now been extended and pulled round, so as to continue the spiral. With a touch of irony, it seems that by doing so the same hand that was clinging to home is now waving farewell. This is perhaps too literal to signify genuinely a psychological progression, but the looser, freer, more spontaneous way of image-making in Adieu does indeed suggests greater autonomy on the part of Hunter’s unconscious.

Most significantly, however, Hunter consciously considers the stomach to be the “centre of feeling”.24 Therefore, the incorporation of the snail into the stomach surely implies – if we are to entertain Jung’s theory – that she is subconsciously aligning the faculty of feeling with femininity and motherhood. This not only suggests that Hunter is becoming increasingly aware of her inner archetypes, but also that she is becoming more aware of the differences between them (feeling, Jung would argue, is characteristic of the “feminine” principle).25 In both cases, however, one would surely be right to deduce that the incorporation of the snail spiral into the stomach of her figures evidences an existing, and increasing, engagement with her unconscious.


The experience of being alone and friendless in a foreign city meant that Hunter had to spend more time alone than ever before. I would argue this forced Hunter into a deeper examination of her Self:

There I was alone, could hardly communicate, no family around, didn’t know anyone, no friend, no children. I had never been away from them before. So you internalise: there’s no one to respond to or with whom you can reflect your thoughts.

Figure 12 Margaret Hunter, Self Contemplation, 1997
Thinking back to those intense feelings of isolation and self-imposed reflection years later, Hunter produced the sculpture Self Containment [12]. Limbless and unable to move, the figure is caged-in by its own thoughts, a prison of self-contemplation.26

However, it seems this process of scraping under surface of the psyche is also reflected in the work Hunter produced at the time, through the powerful new method of painting she developed after moving to Berlin. At art school she had suffered from over-painting, as she struggled to express her thoughts and feelings in an environment that obstructed lucid engagement with female experience. However, isolated in Berlin, Hunter was forced to delve into exactly what she felt and thought, unconditioned by those around her. Indeed, she has remarked that her inability to speak the German language probably saved her from becoming too influenced by Baselitz and leeching from his thoughts and perceptions instead of her own.27

Consequently, in Berlin, Hunter’s “handicaps turned to advantages”28 through a hard-won but effective method of building up an impasto of paint and then scratching back layers to uncover the idea underneath. She called this process “scumbling”.29 The result was an electrifying manipulation of the materiality of the paint, apotheosised in Near Seeing [13], a tour-de-force of pigmented energy of a calibre comparable to Jack Yeats (1871-1957) or the heady Catterline landscapes of Joan Eardley.

Figure 13 Margaret Hunter, Near Seeing, 1992
For Hunter, the epiphany came in the form of an article in the Independent by Geraldine Prince, the first review of her work since graduation.30 Prince described her work as a “visual palimpsest” – the pictorial equivalent of a re-used parchment, scrawled over with new ideas on top of barely-erased old ones. The notion that there could be layers of meaning wrapped up in those swathes of paint was a marvel to Hunter:

It was a revelation to understand that I had really wanted, needed the over-painting, these layers … I realised then how important it was to dig down to what your intuition is trying to tell you ... tapping into the subconscious, allowing ideas to surface, provided complex layers of meaning. 31

That Hunter recognised this process as a psychological activity is key, for I would conclude that “scumbling” not only signifies, but also became a metaphor for, her scraping back the layers of her unconscious as she deepened her engagement with her subconscious during those early years in Berlin.



Figure 14 Margaret Hunter, Ancient Pathways, 1989/90
The final radical change in Hunter’s art after moving to Berlin was her assimilation of a primitive style. Ancient Pathways [14] is a particularly potent example: the stylised form of her main figure – layered upon a wall of ancient shapes and symbols, and viscerally enhanced by “scumbling” – looks as if it could have been painted in the caves of Altamira. Yet I would suggest that Ancient Pathways is not so much a relic as a self-portrait. The thoughts of the figure, clawed into the wooden surface, pull the head back to a world of reduced forms and essential detail. On the one hand, this motif may allude to Hunter’s memories of the two years she spent in Nigeria as a child.32 There she was not only impressed by the expressive power of the stylised and reduced forms of African sculpture, but also by the psychological importance they were considered to hold: for the Nigerian people, sculptures were interactive and proactive vessels and carriers of meaning.33 Both these impressions are resurrected in the totem forms and arresting presence of Ancient Pathways.

On the other hand, the idea of harking back to a more essential existence surely chimes with other tendencies we have seen in Hunter’s new style thus far. Her use of animal symbols was arguably an attempt to engage with a universal audience and speak to the elemental within us all; and “scumbling” too suggests a preoccupation with scraping below surfaces to get to an essential core. Both these processes, we have seen, show Hunter to be engaging with her unconscious.

Jung theorised that primitive tendencies are prompted by an increasing awareness of our unconscious archetypes such as the animus: “they bring into our ephemeral consciousness an unknown psychic life belonging to a remote past. It is the mind of our unknown ancestors, their way of thinking and feeling, their way of experiencing life and the world, gods and men.”34 In other words, this primitive style stems from Hunter’s own state of consciousness, which has become more primitive – or, I would read, elemental – because of her growing awareness of her inner archetypes.

This is a plausible if slightly tenuous theory. However, it gains substance when we consider Hunter’s position in Berlin. Lonely, sometimes frightened, unable to communicate verbally, geared for survival,35 it is feasible to conclude that Hunter became more “primitive” psychologically in this environment. Indeed the words Hunter herself uses to describe those early days in Berlin have an almost animalistic edge to them: “with little fluency in the language, drawing became my main means of expression, so I observed, listened, and sensed.”36 Moreover, Wilhelm Worringer (1881-1965) famously theorised that primitive peoples were urged to abstraction in the first place through “physical dread” of the world around them, “the outcome of a great inner unrest inspired in man by the phenomena of the outside world.”37 Upon reflection, then, it does seem conceivable that Hunter’s adoption of a primitive style of expression – so forcibly demonstrated in Ancient Pathways – stemmed from a heightened sense of her own, instinctual, archetypal nature during her early days in Berlin.38 In simple terms, this awareness also means that this primitive style had roots in her unconscious, for that is where Jung theorises that senses such as instincts and archetypes reside.39

Figure 15a From the Berlin Museum für Völkerkunde

Figure 15b From the Berlin Museum für Völkerkunde

Figure 15c Margaret Hunter, Adieu (1989)

Figure 15d Margaret Hunter, The Receiver, 1992


Part Two

Now that we have established that it is feasible that the work Margaret Hunter was producing during those first few years in Berlin was deeply engaged with her unconscious, this part of the chapter will argue that the same engagement led to an awareness of what Jung held to be the two conflicting sides of her psyche: the native feminine Self and the unconscious animus.

When Hunter first moved there in 1985, Berlin was a city riven with dualities. Twenty-seven miles of reinforced concrete wall divided the city into East and West erected by the German Democratic Republic in 1961 to prevent their citizens emigrating from the East to the West in the aftermath of World War II. Hunter lived in West Berlin, where daily life was punctured by sinister reminders about the political realities of that division: gunned watchtowers, barbed wire and unmarked wooden crosses erected at the foot of the Wall for those who had died attempting to cross the border. It was a place where it felt as if tempers could erupt at any time.40

Figure 16 Margaret Hunter, CV Hat, 1988

Figure 17 Margaret Hunter, Whisper, 1988

The work Hunter produced between 1985 and 1993 reflects those tensions. Before the Wall fell, a recurring motif in her paintings was the double head, dual identities, mask-like halves of faces that look as though they should fit together but do not, or perhaps cannot. In CV Hat (1988) [16], for instance, the face is split in a Picasso-like fragmentation, one half strong and colourful, the other washed-out, bleeding into the background; yet they are linked by a band of shared memories. In Whisper (1988) [17] too, those faces are forced apart by a funnel-shaped chasm and not allowed to come together. However, even after the fall of the Wall in November 1989 and the reunification of East and West, the dichotomies do not fade from Hunter’s work. Instead her figures lean and bend, twist and tear as they get pulled in different directions by unseen forces. In Two Paths [19] the figure strains to stay rooted to the ground, anchored to the stable and familiar (although that too is disintegrating), while his feet wander off on their own accord; yet the pull of his thoughts is so strong in the other direction that his head is nearly ripped from his shoulders. Hunter remembers that this painting, and others like it, was particularly pertinent to the situation of the East Germans, whom the legacy of communism had left psychologically ill-adapted to German unity.41

Figure 18 Margaret Hunter, Breaking the Mould, 1992.

Figure 19 Margaret Hunter, Two Paths, 1992

Berlin, the Divided City, can therefore be seen as a symbol for the dichotomies in Hunter’s own life: a life spent divided between Scotland and Berlin, torn between her roles as mother and an artist. The reality that the two sides of the same city could be in many ways identical – the roads the same width, the same style of buildings, the roundabouts and piazzas the same size – and yet utterly different, clearly struck a chord with Hunter:

The first time I went through East Berlin was a shock. You knew you were in the same city but it was like a villa that had been half opulently renovated – glitzy – and then going into the dilapidated Eastern part. You knew you were in the same villa, the same city, but it was difficult to reconcile the two halves – absolutely cut off from each other and totally different.42

The numerous correspondences between Hunter’s artistic fixation with the difficult reconciliation of two opposing sides and the social, political and personal dichotomies in her own life have been well documented and widely accepted.43 However, what has remained unexplored is the extent to which these same images speak of another, less obvious, internal division. Here I would argue that Jungian theory once again provides an invaluable insight. When Margaret Hunter left Scotland, it was a wrench to part from her children and many of the values that had shaped her life for the past thirty-seven years. Jung describes this kind of distress as a “split in the psyche”.44 I would suggest that it is possible to trace Hunter’s subconscious awareness of that psychological split – between those natively “feminine” attributes, such as feeling, sentimentality and motherhood, and the “masculine” ones that took priority in getting her to Berlin – in the work she produced there.

Kopf und Bauch

If one spends any length of time looking at Hunter’s work, one notices an inordinate number of ways in which a “split in psyche” is manifested. The idea might be seen through Hunter’s radically different treatments of the same motif: for instance, Recurrent Themes (1990) [21] and Dinner Party (1989/90) [22], each referencing iconic works of modern art as opposite as Giacometti’s Femme Égorgeé (Woman With Her Throat Cut) and Judy Chicago’s gynocentric installation The Dinner Party. Or else one might investigate the double head topos further, such as in Whisper, suggesting that the leaner elongated left face may well be defined as more “masculine” while he whispers to a softer and rounder and arguably more “feminine” half. Or else one could hypothesise that the figures caught between two dome-like halves, such as Breaking the Mould [16] or In Between [27], chime with Jung’s definition of a split psyche, which “consists of two incongruous halves which together should form a whole.”45

Figure 20 Margaret Hunter, Recurrent Themes (Study) IV, 1990

Figure 21 Margaret Hunter, Recurrent Themes, 1990

Figure 22 Margaret Hunter, Dinner Party, 1990

However, I will focus on what is perhaps the most intriguing motif that connotes a psychological split within the Self: the gradual dislocation of the head from the body of Hunter’s figures. Hunter admits that she has always been fascinated by the idea behind the familiar German expression “Kopf und Bauch”, which has a similar meaning to the English “body and mind”, but locates their psychological properties to more specific sites of the human anatomy: Reason belongs to the head (Kopf) and Feeling to the stomach (Bauch).46 The internal dichotomy contained in this idea clearly appealed to Hunter: “Perhaps the attraction for me is again the theme of duality between the Reasoning head and the intuitive Solar plexus.”47

Figure 23a Margaret Hunter, Nuremberger Trichter, 1992
Hunter obviously has some recognition of this duality. But neither she nor any art critic seems to have observed the further point that the reasoning Kopf possesses the same quintessentially “masculine” qualities as the animus, and the intuitive Bauch represents qualities traditionally native to the female principle.48 When considered in this way, the teetering heads in paintings like Two Paths and Breaking the Mould present an interesting commentary on Hunter’s developing but unconscious awareness of the opposite sides of her psyche: part of the same Self but contrasting. We have seen already that this dichotomy is pursued through the incorporation of the snail into her figure’s stomach, and the toppling head undergoes a similar development. It is eventually decapitated from its feeling stomach and becomes the sculpture Nuremberger Trichter. The “difference” of the reasoning head is emphasised through the conical Trichter – funnelling knowledge directly into his head.49 While the sculpture certainly speaks of the ideas of received knowledge and propaganda, and the struggles and difficulties of life in the GDR – Hunter was working in the old East at the time – I would argue that the kernel of the idea can still be traced to this fundamental split in Hunter’s psyche.

Figure 23b Margaret Hunter, Nuremberger Trichter detail, 1992
If this assertion still needs buttressing, there is a revealing example of the evolution of the motif that strengthens claims of its psychological beginnings. Hunter identifies Shout (1992) [24] as the painting that initiated the trend of subtracting the head from the body of her figures.50 She recalls that painting it was a similar experience to when she used to over-paint at the GSA: “You can see where the arm used to be – her head was huge! I was unhappy with it – continually repainting trying to get the forms right.”51 She remembers the unexplainable urge to separate the head from the body, “I obviously want, need to do it but why?”

Figure 24 Margaret Hunter, Shout, 1992

Jungian theory would suggest that, like those early paintings, Hunter’s struggle with Shout was psychological. Jacobi theories that the inexplicable urge to create unexplained images stems from the autonomy of our inner archetypes: they stimulate shapes and motifs that “compel the individual to come to terms with them.”52 This is an interesting answer to Hunter’s curious sense of obligation to separate the head from the body in Shout. Moreover, Jacobi postulates that the “guise” in which those images appear, as well as the timing of their emergence, depend on the specific conscious situation of the individual.53 Jacobi’s theory certainly seems to find validation in Hunter’s decision to put a wedge between the figure’s head and her neck: “an interim solution” because “this idea still hadn’t arrived.”54

The idea would arrive in full maturity a year later in the sculpture Kopf und Bauch (1993) [25], where a life-size, gnarled and totem-like figure wrenches his own head completely from the rest of his body. He is the personification of the “divided Self”, and as such, one is surely right to deduce, a manifestation of the fully (if unconsciously) acknowledged split within Hunter’s psyche.


Figure 25 Margaret Hunter,
Kopf und Bauch
, 1993

Figure 26 Margaret Hunter,
Points of Contact, 1997


Healing the Split

Hunter’s art does not just present divisions – it is also preoccupied with mending those divides. On its most basic level, this might be seen through her treatment of her wooden sculptures, which are not only hacked and cut into, but bolted back together, reinforced with metal frames and stitched up with copper wire. Also important is the recurring motif of ladders or bridges. In Whisper the two half faces are joined together by a bridge scratched into the painted surface, and in Near Seeing the figure is built out of the runs of a ladder, literally joining the two sides of the body together.

Hunter’s use of this motif undoubtedly relates to the bridging of East and West reunification of Germany. However, as we can see in Points of Contact (1997) [26], made over seven years after the fall of the Wall, it is surely possible to suggest that the idea of bridging and mending has significance for Hunter outwith that particular divide. Jung’s theory of “individuation” supplies an interesting additional reading. Jung called the reconciliation of the two split sides of the psyche the “process of individuation”.55 He theorised this as a usually unconscious but inexorable urge within us all.56 Jacobi provides a useful illustration from nature: “Just as from the outset every seed contains the mature fruit as its hidden goal, so the human psyche, whether aware of it or not, resisting or unresisting, is oriented towards its ‘wholeness.’”57 I believe it is possible to interpret that part of Hunter’s work that addresses the bridging of divides as a simultaneous unconscious expression of desire for that wholeness.

Figure 27 Margaret Hunter, In Between, 1993
Points of Contact, Breaking the Mould, Near Seeing and Whisper are all works that might be interpreted as concerning the mending of psychological as well as physical divides. However, the most intriguing work to look at within a Jungian context is In Between, commissioned in 1993 for an exhibition organised by three former GDR women curators. Hunter was asked to create a self-portrait at the time of der Umbruch, (the change-over), the time of the Wall coming down. The painting shows a cross-legged figure bridging the gap between two half-spheres, the familiar directional pull of thoughts motif surfacing once more, a green spectre-like shadow echoing the shape of the divide. By keeping detail essential and her figure stylised, Hunter’s self-portrait speaks to a universal audience of the difficulties of a life caught between two worlds. Particularly it resonates with the situation of the people from the former GDR, their thoughts still bent on one way of life, their bodies moving onto another, a ribbon of barbed-wire linking them together. For Hunter it represents her “personal Umbruch”, the move to Berlin in 1985 and the change-over of her life from Scotland to Berlin and of her existing identity as a mother to an artist: “My self-portrait depicts a position between two half-worlds – physically with foot and knee in one place and thoughts and aspirations being pulled towards another.”58

However, there is a curiously specific comparison that can be made with In Between that also grounds this painting in a Jungian notion of union. In The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Jung inserts the diagram of a mandala drawn by the 17th century Theologian Jakob Böhme to illustrate the psychological process of individuation [28]. Like Hunter’s painting, Böhme’s mandala depicts two semicircles turned back-to-back, although his represents the Father and the Holy Ghost; unity is achieved through the Son, bridging them together down the middle. Jung explains that the image can be read directly in psychological terms: the dark semicircle represents the archetypal unconscious, its lighter opposite represents the conscious, and the heart in the middle is the individual psyche linking them both.59

Figure 28 Manda from Jakob Bhome's XL Questions Concerning the Soul, 1620
To my knowledge Margaret Hunter has never read Jung’s book and I think one would be right to deduce that, such is the subconsciously-engaged nature of Hunter’s work, if she had ever come across Böhme’s diagram by another means then the comparison was not evoked consciously. It is indeed interesting, then, that In Between – Hunter’s self-professed portrait of a social, political and personal union – should so strikingly parallel Jung’s own illustration of the process of psychological unity.60 Moreover, if we extend the connection with Böhme’s mandala further, the pull of Hunter’s thoughts in In Between are directed back to the side of the unconscious. Indeed, Jung theorises that this is the rule of motion in psychologically-engaged images in the main: “in general, a leftward movement indicates movement towards the unconscious”.61 It is interesting to note, then, that in all Hunter’s paintings – from Adieu to Woman Holding Snail – the thoughts of the figures are beckoned from the left. In Whisper, too, it is the left face that whispers to the right.

I would conclude, then, that in these works that so fundamentally address the social and political divisions of Berlin, and Hunter’s divided existence across two countries, Jungian theory suggests they might also relate to the conflicting parts of Hunter’s psyche and the desire for union between them. Arguably, therefore, the works can also be seen as evidence of the process of individuation. This is important, because Jung theorised that out of this psychological union new symbolic forms and attitudes emerge.62 This theory is of particular help in shedding light on the final radical change in Margaret Hunter’s style, which will be discussed in the next chapter.


1 These two dates mark the period of most notable change in Hunter’s art.
2 Appendix.
3 Letter from artist, March 2011
4 Godfrey, p.28
5 Appendix.
6 Godfrey, 21.
7 C. Jung, Archetypes, 190.
8 Appendix.
9 Appendix.
10 Laurette Sejourne, El Universo de Quetzalcoatl (Mexico, DF: Fondo de Cultura Econbmica, 1962), p. 54, cited by David A. Palmer, ‘A Study of Mesoamerican Religious Symbolism’, accessed 3 April 2011; available from http://www.ancientamerica.org/library/media/HTML/82wk4ntb/A%20STUDY%20OF%20MESOAMERICAN%20RELIGIOUS%20SYMBOLISM.htm?n=0; Internet.
11 ‘Celtic Spiral: Celtic Spiral Meaning’, Celtic Symbol Dictionary, accessed 3 April 2011; available from http://celtic-symbol-dictionary.com/celtic_spiral.aspx; Internet.
12 J. E. Cirlot and Jack Sage (trans.), A Dictionary of Symbols, (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962), 290-292.
13 Jung, Symbols, 83.
14 Ibid.
15 Ibid, 90.
16 Jolande Jacobi, Complex/Archetype/Symbol in the Psychology of C G Jung (London: Routledge, 1925; 1999), 115.
17 Appendix.
18 Ibid.
19 Hunter, AHM, 3.
20 Aniela Jaffé, ‘Symbolism in the Visual Arts’, Symbols of Man, 265.
21 Ibid.
22 Ibid, 261.
23 Ibid, 263.
24 Appendix.
26 It is also interesting to note that that the isolating experience of Berlin provoked a similar liberation and investigation of self in the work of two other female Scottish artists who moved to Berlin to work in the 1980s. Lys Hansen (b.1936), remarked that, “Being alone day after day meant that I could go very deep inside myself, which was important. I did a lot of work and let everything come out.” [Passionate Paint, 119.]; Gwen Hardie (b.1962) similarly considered her time in Berlin “a positive re-formation of her psychic space.” [Majorie Allthorpe-Guyton, ‘Reconstructions’, Gwen Hardie: Paintings and Drawings (Edinburgh: Featherhill Press Ltd, 1987), 5.]
27 Appendix.
28 Ibid.
29 Ibid.
30 Appendix.
31 Ibid.
32 In 1959, at the age of eleven, she moved with her family to the northern region of Nigeria where her father worked as an education officer.
33 Appendix.
34 C. Jung, Archetypes, 286.
35 Appendix.
36 Hunter, AHM, 3.
37 Wilhelm Worringer, ‘Abstraction and Empathy’ (1906), Art in Theory, eds. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003), 68.
38 Other reasons why Hunter may have adopted a primitive style include its long tradition in German Expressionism, including in the work of Baselitz who owns an impressive collection of African sculpture. Upon moving to Berlin she was also exposed, like her predecessors, to one of the biggest ethnographic collections in the world, the Berlin Museum für Völkenkunde. The influence of her visits there can be seen in similarities between its exhibits and her work [15].
39 C. Jung, Archetypes, 189.
40 Lsy Hansen, Email to author, 6 April 2011.
41 Moffat, Changing Places, 3.
42 Appendix.
43 See introductory essays in exhibition catalogues Recent Places and Drawings, Changing Places and Elemental Traces.
44 C. Jung, Archetypes, 164.
45 Ibid, 287.
46 Appendix
47 Appendix.
48 E. Jung, 3.
49 For explanation of the concept of the Nuremberger Trichter see Appendix.
50 Ibid.
51 Ibid.
52 Jacobi, 113.
53 Ibid, 113-4.
54 Appendix.
55 C.Jung, Archetypes, 159.
56 Ibid.
57 Jacobi, 115
58 Appendix.
59 C. Jung, Archetypes, 296-9
60 Ibid.
61 Ibid, 320.
62 C. Jung, Symbols, 81-3.

Copyright © Anna Lisa Stone 2011