series 2019 – 2022 (selection)
“You created us with thirsty hearts” – the Egyptians believed that the human heart contained all the good and bads deeds of a person’s life, and was used to judge whether that person was worthy of entry into the afterlife. After the person died, their heart was weighed against the feather of Maat, the goddess of truth and justice. Whilst the feather and heart are not depicted above, the two characters holding spanners are attempting to fix/cheat fate, they are Sisyphus from Greek mythology, who was punished by Hades for cheating death twice.
“The heavens are indifferent, life is just a game of chance” – Maat, the Egyptian goddess of truth and justice, who continuously prevents the Universe from returning to chaos, takes a chaotic form (Yama, detailed below) balanced on a ‘Lucky 8 Ball’. The Gaesatae were a group of Gallic mercenary warriors from the Alps, who fought against the Romans, naked. Sisyphus is transformed into a Sprite from folklore. All characters are under the spell of the Red Sun.
“On the last day of existence, the moon waxed and waned, the sun agonized, the earth wept” – the triptych of pagan cosmology, the Red Sun, the Moon, the Earth. Below, Yama the Buddhist deity, the judge of the dead, who presides over Hell and the cycle of rebirth. Birth/ rebirth to the right, Death to the left (the Moaning hell realm).
“Elf-struck” – if taken ill, you may be elf-struck, your body pierced by a poisoned elven arrow. In Cumbrian folklore, the elves got the arrows from faeries, who got them from mermaids.
“How can a creature of clay and water perceive existence?” – Maat transforms into Cernunnos the pagan god of The Otherworld, god of wild places, of animals, of nature spirits/ elementals. The mermaid represents water; the faun, clay (earth); the two sprite, air; Cernunnos, fire. Earth, air, fire, water: the four elements of wisdom.
My paintings, gouache on paper, explore the relationship between colour and form, they have equal importance. How colour and form interact on paper, this combination completes the narrative. They owe to the philosophy that all phenomena are mere appearances to mind, that ‘colour’ and ‘form’ are merely imprinted in this life, and ultimately do not exist outside the mind that perceives them.
Add to this, images from Egyptian, Greek, Tibetan, and Celtic mythology, the Druid tree of life and its cyclic year, the paintings then become a metaphor for a world in transition, an expression of that ungraspable moment where colour and form interacts with characters from mythology and folklore, to give a dialogue to the journeys within this life, and beyond.
The works of Alan Davie, Yayoi Kusama, Niki de Saint Phalle, Hieronymous Bosch, and Richard Dadd have had the greatest impact on my own pursuit of expression.
The above paintings include a brief explanation of their meaning. Having studied tradition Buddhist thangka art, and whilst maintaining the symmetry, religious Deities are replaced by characters from folklore and mythology. All paintings are gouache on paper, 36cm x 54cm.
series 2022 –
In 2023 I shall be painting on canvas, larger studies of characters from folklore and mythology
“Cernunnos the Horned God”; paper, acrylic and enamel paint, cotton thread on canvas
“Jenny Greenteeth, the River Hag”; paper, acrylic and enamel paint, cotton thread on canvas