Bringing Heritage Art Back to the Future

Chinese Painting on handmade paper.
Chinese Painting on handmade paper.

Bringing Heritage Art Back, to the Future

By Kathryn Wilking

Art work and furnishings are important as they help set the tone for your business. If your business resists budgeting for furnishings and décor, you may be missing an opportunity to make a connection with your clients. Think of the old stereotype of a dentist’s office; sterile and uncomfortable with an assortment of out-dated magazines. You need to do better. If it is ‘normal’ to have clients waiting in your lobby, you can offer them a few things to read, display new products or show off the company’s awards and achievements. Think of your front entrance as being the ‘mouth of chi-energy’. Keep the reception and entranceway clear and welcoming, with carefully selected images on the walls.

If your business is of such a serious nature that clients can get upset or stressed, your furnishings can help calm them down. Items that have texture, earthy colours or solid, square shapes are very grounding. Alternatively, if you are selling fitness equipment, you may be looking for brighter colours and items with drama to raise the energy and therefore create desire to purchase products.

Before heading off to furnish your walls with art, class and sophistication, determine what you are looking for. Here are a few questions to answer before you purchase a new piece:

  • What is the purpose? Do I need energizing in this spot? Or, a calming presence?
  • Do I need loud colours or soft colours in this area? Wall art or table art?
  • Check the size options: Do I need one big item, or several smaller ones?
  • And perhaps most importantly, am I looking for a ‘previously-owned’ item or new energy?

A ‘find’ from the past can be romantic or nostalgic, but often there may be underlying reasons why you are attracted to it.  Does it really make a difference if a painting is 100 years old or freshly painted? Yes it does!  The energy embedded in any object comes along with it, bringing its own joys or woes.

Why does this matter?

“Predecessor-chi” is the energy that comes with a previously-owned item and reflects the people and things that have come before us. This can also been seen as “ancestor-chi” from our blood line or even “heritage-chi” if the item is from a community or group. Regardless, an item or art piece can pick up a signature from where it has been; depending on the political climate of the original country and how their resources are used or abused.

So, how does this affect modern businesses? For many, new reflects a ‘clean slate,’ bringing a fresh start to any establishment. For others, artwork or images from ancestor’s or heritage lines bring ‘blessings’ and approval into the fold.  But be aware: décor items in the form of carvings, textiles and wall paintings, can all be at the mercy of the politics of the times and the emotional state of their owners.

The theft of art in Germany during the Second World War has had effects lasting generations. Heritage and art items were, and still are, precious commodities for many families. In this case, when the art was stolen from the heart of the family, the owners knew their lives were about to change forever. The sadness of loss and fear of the unknown gets absorbed into the art. Our attraction to this art becomes conflicted; while we want to know what happened, we also fear what we might learn.

Another example: While travelling in Asia, I’ve seen poorer countries sell off items from past Rulers, King’s and their palaces; objects that had made their heritage distinct. Ancient artefacts from Laos, Cambodia and others end up in offices and homes. There, out of context, they are out of the reach for the ones who can appreciate the past; another kind of loss.  In these cases and others, people can be affected by feelings deep within the artwork, without knowing why.

There is a need for many to recapture the predecessor-chi; to be supported, in order to heal.  Can one heal the pain through a piece of art? Should you turn to a consultant to ‘clear the energy’ or ‘embrace it’?

I talked with another Feng Shui Consultant, Donna Stellhorn, for her perception about the impact of predecessor-chi. Donna, from western USA, is an expert on the ancient art of smudging; a ritual to clear energy using sage and smoke. Donna has written a book; How to Smudge. She uses some Native Indian techniques in her practice to ‘clear’ a piece that is suspected of holding negative predecessor-chi.

Donna promotes harmony in a space. If the art piece or item cannot be embraced by all parties: it should go. Donna explains her view:

“Second-hand items, especially ancient items, carry the energy of the previous owner(s) and energy of the time they are from. When people bring them into their homes or offices they are pulling in that energy.

In Feng Shui we really focus on creating harmony but we notice how some people will be drawn to combative energy. When a person is drawn to a piece with difficult energy they have a couple of possible reactions to this. They could feel very comfortable with the object because the object is vibrating with the same energy they are. Or, they may become uncomfortable because they were drawn to an energy they no longer want in themselves.

The greatest conflicts come when one person is drawn to a difficult energy, but others are not. It is not always possible to clear the energy but in many cases it can be done. I have used salt, candles, bells and prayers to clear objects.” (Keeping the energy positive, in order to maintain harmony.)

Her conclusion: “In the cases when the objects won’t clear, I recommend the people let the object go.”

While this unbiased deduction works in promoting harmony, some people are still drawn into the art and feel the need to hang onto a contentious piece.

I spoke with shaman Sonia Nadina Haynes, to gather her perspective. Sonia also uses native techniques in her practice. She is a teacher of Intuitive Studies, and Author of The Power of Money. Originally from Jamaica, Sonia adds to this topic:

““I love old houses and possessions. They all come with their own stories.

We would not be here without the people that came before us. Each piece comes from an era, a personality, and comes with a tale to tell; and it is fascinating! You can’t disconnect the ancestry from the energy; nor the energy from the art. They are connected in each piece and you cannot separate this. Ancestral art has extreme importance in today’s modern world. The art of the ancestors gives us inspiration as we look back to the future to see what we can create.

People are drawn to a piece of art for different reasons; the colours remind them of something or the mood reminds them of something else. The sub-conscious has an agenda; the attachment could be from the past…lingering, energetic attachments. An art piece can be drawn into your world because you need it…and you will need the ancestry piece to permeate into your life…in order to follow your destiny.

I can help. I can take you back to experience the old, dysfunctional energy: shift it, change it, and make your life better.”

These ideas became real for me while I was speaking with Sonia via Skype. She asked me about the decor on the wall behind me. I turned to see paintings done by my mother-in-law, and a couple of wall carvings from my dad. The original owners now deceased.  Her comment was that my ancestors were all ‘behind me’ and looking after me. These items are not very old, but demonstrate that predecessor-chi can come in all shapes and forms.

Art has its own history. As life moves along you may be drawn to different tastes, but for today, your choices are related to your personal life path. You make the ultimate decision about what to bring into your life. Yes, you can embrace the old masters and the old energy the ancestors have brought to the present…and take them with you into the future.

The longer you spend each day with a particular image, the more it can influence your mood. It is crucial to surround yourself with the right message. Whatever you choose to enhance your walls in the office or home should be loved, and appreciated by all.

I’ve given you a lot to think about.  Take your time choosing the items to surround you, because yes, it does matter.


Kathryn of Kathryn Wilking Designs is an Author and Feng Shui Consultant. She resides in Vancouver, BC Canada with her husband and pets. Her recent book; Practical Feng Shui for the Office, is available in e-book and paperback.

For more Practical Solutions for Life check out

Donna Stellhorn,  Author of How to Smudge:

Sonia Haynes,  Author of The Power of Money:


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