The inspiration for Between Us Cucuteni and Both Sides Cucuteni I owe to the Cucuteni culture circa 4300 BC, in particular a 6 inch terracotta figurine shown front and back. The original piece resides in the National Museum of Romanian History in Bucharest. Its precise function is not known.
Over 4,000 years ago in the Cycladic islands of Greece, marble sculptures that possess a breathtaking simplicity of form, compelling to the modern eye, were created; Henry Moore was a great admirer. Heart and Science depicts such a figure. Again, scholars dispute the original function of these stylized female figurines.
Eve and Masaccio
In Eve and Her Daughters Leave Eden, I revisit Masaccio’s Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden (Brancacci Chapel, Florence; circa 1425) and leave Adam out of the picture. Instead of hanging her head in shame, as depicted by Masaccio, Eve here strides proudly away from the Garden as one freed from wrongful imprisonment. She is thronged by her followers and heirs – literally, all the women who have come after her. Eve is not forced out of Eden by the wrath of God; rather, she is propelled forward by her own energy and vision.
Mesozoic Frog was inspired by a frog fossil (Mesophryne beipiaoensis), Lianoning beds, Jehol biota, northern China (125 million years ago). Carbon Dating derived from a fossil of the primitive bird Archaeopteryx lithographia (the “Berlin specimen”) from the Solnhofen Limestone site in southern Germany (Upper Jurassic, 150 million years ago). The composition and colouring of Web in Amber Born are based on a spider web preserved in Baltic amber (fossilized tree resin deposits off the coast of the Baltic Sea, 24 million years ago).
Hephaestus was the son of Hera and Zeus, god of metallurgy and the forge in Greek mythology. He was the divine artisan, smith, and architect. Hephaesta is my own invention, goddess of creativity, familiar with the power and destructiveness of fire. I envision her transformed by suffering and time into the goddess of smoke and ashes.
In Young Hera I imagine the Greek goddess Hera – one of the 12 original Olympians, archetypally known as the vindictive, jealous wife of Zeus – before her marriage and the relentless infidelities of her husband, experiencing the ingénue delight of a new pair of shoes.
Hermaphrodite was the bisexual offspring of the Greek divinities Aphrodite and Hermes. The inspiration for Hermaphrodite Diving is a Greco-Etruscan bronze statuette from the fourth century BC.
Gaia is the ancient divinity of earth, universal mother. Serena Williams, who experienced life threatening complications after giving birth but still returned within weeks to again dominate the world of tennis, recalls Gaia and the extraordinary resilience of women for me in Gaia Serena.
Kore (pl. Korai)
Korai are statues of young women sculpted in Greece between 700 and 500 BC. They have been found in extraordinary numbers in sanctuaries and temples across the Greek world. To this day scholars still dispute why they were created. Kore Thinking and Kore Dancing embody the dialogue: the active life versus the contemplative one.
The body beneath the surface is an enduring mystery. We experience intimations of our own mortality looking at medical diagnostic imaging. My art follows modern science’s lead into the centre of human existence, as intimated in Heart and Science (CT scan, heart), and Hephaesta and Young Hera (whole body bone scan).
Nike of Samothrace
The Nike of Samothrace is one of the most celebrated of Greek sculptures and is prominently displayed in The Louvre in Paris. In Nike Escapes the Louvre, I imagine the Greek goddess of victory escaping from her pedestal in the museum, fleeing the strictures and boundaries that keep her in place as a stationary figurehead.
Oceanids and Nereids
In the beginning, according to Homer, was water: a primal river, Oceanus, encircled the earth. The Greeks transformed Oceanus into a god (male, of course) who mated and produced offspring, including many daughters called Oceanids. They were kindly nymphs, benevolent guardians scattered around the earth and sea. My two are glimpsed bathing under a waterfall in Oceanids.
Nereus was another ancient sea god in Greek mythology, the son of Gaia and her son Pontus. He mated with the Oceanid Doris to beget the Nereids, 50 gentle maidens who lived at the bottom of the sea. Thetis and Galatea are two of the best known Nereids. I picture them (Nereids Ascending, Nereids Descending) as luminous as the evocative Elves of Tolkien’s world, traversing sea and sky, everpresent and watchful.
Painting on stone (marble, travertine, patara)
I started painting on sawn stone in late 2012. The delicate veining and flesh tones of marble and honed travertine drew me in; these cool sensuous surfaces seemed ideal for depiction of the female nude. I loved the heft and permanence of the material.
The marble piece was an exceptional find. I am indebted to Tom at Granite Creations in Kingston for allowing me to forage among his scrap material and take without charge the piece on which I would paint Spring (aka Egg, Cornered). Because of space limitations in our home, this piece spent five years through all weathers outdoors under a large maple. Despite tree and bird droppings and general climate abuse, the acrylic has cleaned up well.
Painting on glass
I apply resin to plate glass, then add acrylic drybrush to highlight and colour the emerging shape – usually an insect, reptile, amphibian or fossil. In Tegu Lizard, the plate glass against a black background increases the depth of the illusion of a creature caught in a flash of sunlight.