Sunday, December 17, 2006

NEW SERIES: From Beyond the Ninth Wave


Between working on commissions and my landscape paintings I like to challenge myself with creating a series of paintings related by a theme or subject. The last series I completed was The Planets. Researching and working on those paintings had a lasting effect on me as I find that new paintings relating to the planets keep coming out. However, I didn’t want to continue with the Planets or just keep recreating paintings inspired by the planets or other objects from space. Since this series, I have found myself continuing to return to space objects. I wanted something more challenging, both for me as an artist and for the viewer.

Recently, I was going through my photo collection and came across photographs of Bruig na Boinne, now known as Newgrange in Co. Meath, Ireland, which I took when I last visited there. For those unfamiliar, Newgrange is one of the best examples in Ireland and in Western Europe, of a type of monument known to archaeologists as a passage-grave or passage-tomb. It was constructed around 3200BCE, according to the most reliable Carbon 14 dates available from archaeology. This makes it more than 600 years older than the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, and 1,000 years more ancient than Stonehenge. On the Winter Solstice, the light of the rising sun enters the roofbox at Newgrange and penetrates the passage, shining onto the floor of the inner chamber. The sunbeam illuminates the chamber of Newgrange for just 17 minutes.

There are many differing theories about who built Newgrange and why, and what its function was. One story out of mythology says that the Tuatha Dé Danann, the children of the Goddess Danu, or to explain overly simply, the gods of the Gaels, built Newgrange. Drawing from my roots as an Irish/Scots and my studies in Irish/Celtic mythology, I recalled the ancient Celts’ apparent interest in astronomy. I realized that I could use my own interest in space-related objects with my knowledge of the Tuatha Dé Danann to produce a series of paintings. Some myths that suggest the Tuatha Dé Danann came from the sky. Others talk about these gods coming from the earth and sea. Using nebulas, galaxies, star clusters as well as the patterns in rocks, sunlit ripples on water, and the patina on corroded metal, among other things, I will develop a series of abstract paintings inspired by or representing the Tuatha Dé Danann. The title From Beyond the Ninth Wave comes from Irish mythology, and refers to the boundaries of the mortal world which is marked by the Ninth Wave. Beyond the Ninth Wave exists the Otherworld, the home of the gods, the realm of faerie; it is where magic happens and where the soul journeys.

The first painting in the series is The Dream of Oenghus Mac Og (pictured above) (20 x 30, acrylic on canvas -- SOLD). Oenghus Mac Og (Angus the Young), the god of love, youth and poetic inspiration, fell in love with an otherworldly maiden he had seen in a dream, near a lake surrounded by over a hundred maidens in white. He became so desperate in longing for the maiden that he fell ill. His mother, Boann, concerned with his condition, sought the identity of the maiden and learned she was Caer Iborméith. They discovered that she took the shape of a swan every second Samhain (Halloween) and remained so for the rest of that year. Oenghus went to the lake where she resided with 149 swans/maidens to profess his love for her. He was given the task to choose her among all 150 swans. Choosing correctly he was transformed into a swan and they flew off together to reside at Bruig na Boinne (Newgrange).

I am currently working on two more paintings in the series: The Dagdha and Ériu. From this point on those who participate in my Patron Program will get first viewing of all my completed works in the series. Additionally, patrons can request to see any work in progress. I will, of course, keep everyone updated on the development of the series. After the patrons have had first viewing of any of my new work (series-related or other), I will post them on this blog for all to see.

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