Monday, 29 June 2015

"We don't inherit the world from our parents, we borrow it from our children"

When I was thinking about what to write for this launch I thought about the final paragraph I wrote in my last blog post (“one day peace will come…On that day we will all have to ask ourselves what we did for peace…did we capitalise or contribute…). I question that if we have borrowed this world from our children, then what kind of a world are we going to give back to them and to future generations?

Don't we just seem to be making the same mistakes over and over again? Are we going to leave a fragile and fragmented world destined to a history repeating itself?

Or do we learn from our past mistakes?

Recently I re-read Thomas Cahill's The Gift of the Jews in which he demonstrates that one of the major contributions to the civilised world from this historical tribe of semi nomads is developing the belief in a future that could be different from the futile cyclic repetition of predestination (the general Mesopotamian and Egyptian beliefs at the time). It was a monumental shift in thought, believing that we can take an active part in shaping our present and also what is yet to come. And I found that very encouraging.

But in our modern world it also seems that frustration, marginalisation and disempowerment can push many to the point of believing they are justified in taking the law into their own hands. And this is only made worse when we label atrocities such as the massacre in a South Carolina church as perpetrated by a "lone wolf". It allows us liberal types to rest easy, to shun our collective responsibility especially when the lone wolf is a white guy. If he is anything other than white then he can be conveniently be labelled “thug” or “terrorist” and as such we can act (militarily?) to defend ourselves. But this white guy is a loner so we mourn with the bereaved but also shake our heads and get on with life. But take note. He may not be part of any particular group but in fact he shares a widespread and dangerous ideology with many larger and more powerful organisations, influential individuals and Governments.

Are we finally waking up to the realisation that we have to become an "inclusive" society in order to survive? I keep coming back to those two words again. Compassion and coexistence (blog post of 14 May 2013 below).

"We actually need to recognise that Britain in particular (has) a kind of moral responsibility when we have left certain states [or individuals?] behind in a very unstable situation. I want my country to be governed by those who are prepared to look at the faces of the desperate, be it the desperation of the asylum seeker or of the food bank client, and to look at them with compassion." David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, UK. we learn from our mistakes? Absolutely, because it seems we can now repeat them almost perfectly.

About the new works...

"To see the truth as others do" has as its central image what is known as a Christian Kabbalah. But as Kabbalah has its roots in Jewish mysticism it struck me that this may illustrate the propensity of one religion superseding another, where it deems the other religion redundant, dated or perhaps heretical. Nothing new there. It also hit home that the cultural destruction and devastation that ISIL are inflicting on our heritage throughout the Middle East is also nothing new...wherever we look in the world. We've been there, we've done that and seems we keep doing it again, and again. This artwork is a call to open-mindedness.

"Illuminatus – obscuratus" translates as "having been illuminated - having been covered" again playing around with how we “interpret” the truth as we see it. The triangle shape enclosing the Hebrew, Arabic and Greek logos/letters also hints at the idea of exclusiveness and initiation in relation to knowledge or relationship (the opposite of which is inclusiveness; something that as both a printmaker in open access studios and regular at our community church I strive to practice).

 In the Name of Revelation is a mixed media work on gesso panel, the content and format of which was governed by looking back at some of my very old Italian inspired work from the mid 1980’s. It also contains quotes from the writings of Julian of Norwich.

“Truth sees God and wisdom contemplates God, and from these two comes a third, a holy and wonderful delight in God who is love”.

The gate image on the left intrigues me. Is a gate there to keep us out, to keep us in, or is it something we can (choose to) pass through to another (physical, emotional, spiritual) place?

The printed Gothic text is from an illuminated Gutenberg Bible. This is actually one of the rare occasions that I don't actually know what the text I am using says! That for me seems a precarious position to be in but in this case I felt that the text would be virtually illegible and also dominated by the presence of the quotations. Therefore its presence is purely visual in this work.

The recurring saint image is based on a Simone Martini icon in the Siena Pinocoteca Nazionale that I was particularly drawn to.

In both ancient and modern times the Hebrew tradition forbids the writing or vocalizing of the name of G-d (known as HaShem or simply “the Name”). The Gothic letter “G” is a representation of this.