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I Am Vertical

One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 33cm x 43cm (Print Only) £125

“I Am Vertical”, which was published posthumously by her husband Ted Hughes, is one of Sylvia Plath’s later confessional poems.

Throughout this poem there is continual comparison between the poet and natural objects that carries an underlying motif of death; one of the commonest themes of Plath’s poetry. Written two years before she died in 1963, this poem in particular provides insight into her complex psyche and her almost non-existent self-worth.

Plath’s chosen title, “I am vertical,” begins the poem and is immediately followed by, “But I would rather be horizontal,” which quickly confirms her unhappiness and addresses her feelings of inadequacy and low self esteem.

“Tonight, in the infinitesimal light of the stars,” ~ begins the second stanza, bringing the narrative into the present moment ~ “The trees and the flowers have been strewing their cool odors. I walk among them, but none of them are noticing.”

This fact is painful to the poet and leads her to believe that she would be better off “finally” dead. Her body would return to the earth and help sustain the world, just as the plants do.

Throughout her poem, the mood is dark, reinforced by the nighttime setting, a sky full of watching (helpless) stars and the eerie personification of the trees and plants. Yet, ironically perhaps, Plath’s poem oozes beauty throughout and reflects the final chiastic lines of Keats’ poem, ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’:

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Keats suggests that beauty, in its purest form, holds an inherent truth that surpasses the limits of human understanding. Rather than splitting these two virtues and analysing them separately, fusing them together removes the problematic jousting of subject and object by offering up an intersubjective interpretation: that beauty (as an impact upon our senses) transcends any intellectual analysis and therefore cannot be contested. ‘Beauty is Truth’, in that the two are not only connected but inseparable.

If only Plath had realised that the beauty of her poetry reflected the truth of the beauty within her self.

Inspired by Plath’s poem, my image attempts to illustrate the connections between Plath herself and the natural world and, ultimately, the beauty born out of that relationship.

Into the Darkness Within

One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 40cm x 48cm (Framed) £265

“We slept in what had once been the gymnasium”, begins Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. It is a work of speculative fiction set in a near-future North America in a totalitarian Christian theocracy, which has overthrown the United States government.

It was my recent re-reading of ‘Handmaid’ that spawned this image and, in particular, her final line: “And so I step up, into the darkness within.’ If you haven’t yet read the book I strongly recommend that you do ~ it’s such an enthralling and thought-provoking tale.

A moment before insight
A moment before insight

One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 33cm x 43cm (Print Only) £125

A few months ago @christineosobczak ~ one of my favourite artists whose work I truly admire ~ posted up an image of a pair of hands as ‘abandoned’, stating that although she’d tried so hard, “this image cannot come to a resolution.”

Driven only by a thought that I didn’t want all her hard work to result in nothing, I began to create a portrait, determined to weave in at least a part of those hands. Though my portrait was of an anonymous woman I wanted, somehow, to acknowledge the driving forces of Christine’s art: our connection to the stars, an acknowledgment of the Spiritual and an obvious nod to the colour red.

Huge thanks to Christine for giving her permission to post what, in essence, is a collaboration between the two of us 🙏🏼

Mothblood
Mothblood

One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 33cm x 43cm (Print Only) £125

An image inspired by the incredible artwork from Aurora’s album, “All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend” and a poem by Eleanor Kendrick.

“moth,
you tint and tut and thub and thud again,
again, against the blot-strong glass, you ram
and butt your blunt flat head, and bleed mothblood,
and pulp yourself to death – for nothing
but a humming siren, pulsing
fools-gold lovebeams at the night.”

𝐹𝑟𝑜𝑚 ‘𝑀𝑜𝑡ℎ’ 𝑏𝑦 𝐸𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑛𝑜𝑟 𝐾𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑘

Unwrapping
Unwrapping

One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 36cm x 45cm (Framed) £265

The inspiration behind this piece of art, is the cover photo of Aurora’s album entitled, ‘All my demons greeting me as a friend’. The artwork, called ‘Cocoon’, is an original photograph taken by Bent René Synnevåg.

Whilst listening to this song, the lyrics conjure up a transformative, or liminal, space: a space in-between ‘what was’ & ‘what is now’, from which insight emerges &, paradoxically, we are liberated by the death of how we used to be & the emergence of ‘something new’ that rises within us.

In creating ‘Unwrapping’ there were spots of time when I slid into what Martin Buber describes as ‘I-Thou’ moments … when the technicalities of the creative process ceased & the soul took over. That is when the image began to take on shape & meaning … when each ‘brush stroke’ became a lyric or a musical note & I drifted back to my own childhood. That is when this particular piece of art began to breathe.

October
October

One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 36cm x 45cm (Framed) £265

Created in October last year, this image was inspired initially by the colours of the season. As I fell deeper into the piece, I recalled the song ‘October’ by U2 from the album, also entitled October, in particular the lines:

‘October
And kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall
But you go on
And on’

And then I remembered an incredibly beautiful poem written by one of my favourite poets:

‘When morning comes, the sun, ardent
covers the trees in gold, you walk

towards me,
out of the season, out of the light love reasons.’

From ‘Love’, by Carol Ann Duffy

No further explanations needed …

Love is a dark etc
Love is a deep and a dark and a lonely

One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 45cm x 56cm (Framed) £275

Inspired by a poem with the same title by Carl Sandburg

love is a deep and a dark and a lonely
and you take it deep take it dark
and take it with a lonely winding
and when the winding gets too lonely
then may come the windflowers
and the breath of wind over many flowers
winding its way out of many lonely flowers
waiting in rainleaf whispers
waiting in dry stalks of noon
wanting in a music of windbreaths
so you can take love as it comes keening
as it comes with a voice and a face
and you make a talk of it
talking to yourself a talk worth keeping
and you put it away for a keen keeping
and you find it to be a hoarding
and you give it away and yet it stays hoarded
like a book read over and over again
like one book being a long row of books
like leaves of windflowers bending low
and bending to be never broken

Foxfire
Foxfire

One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 45cm x 46cm (Framed) £265

Drawing on a Finnish myth in her book of short stories, ‘Foxfire, Wolfskin and other stories of shapeshifting women’, Sharon Blackie brings to life women’s remarkable ability to transform themselves in the face of extreme hardship and tragedy. In the story ‘Foxfire’, she becomes transfixed by a wild fox, who leads her deeper and deeper into the woods ~ seducing her with her feral lifestyle.

“She lived fully, my fox, and I envied her with all my heart”, writes Blackie. “I wanted to dance with her, sister or lover, across the snow-clad vastness of this land. Together, we’d create the Northern Lights. For that is what foxes do – racing over the fells, whipping up the snow with their tails, the friction of it sending up sparks into the midnight sky. This is what makes the aurora’s glow. Revontulet, we call it: foxfire.”

Looking beyond the myth, the author describes how, wild and uncontainable, the fox leads her to her own, “wild-pawed path”, towards the resolution of her grief and the reclamation of her womanhood.

Start spreading the news
Start spreading the news

One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 40cm x 48cm (Framed) £265

As so often happens this piece gradually became something I didn’t quite expect. I began with the bare bones of an image created some years ago & the idea of introducing an apple (that strongly suggests pregnancy in this image) began to materialise. This ‘Big Apple’, of course, became a very large metaphor for New York, which triggers thoughts of the Sinatra classic … more than enough to capture both my mind & emotions, the latter guiding me through right to the end of this piece.

I love New York. I’ve only visited this might City once back in 2013 but I can easily recall feeling staggered & completely overwhelmed during the taxi ride to my hotel near the Docklands. In this image the icons are still there: the Apple, the Statue of Liberty … but the cracks are showing, there is crumbling, there is decay. The woman in this piece still wears her Apple earrings with pride but her country, to me, feels to be in a state of pregnancy right now: a period of time tinged with uncertainty where the outcome is never guaranteed.

Also known as ‘The City that Never Sleeps’, I wanted to incorporate this fact into the image as a sort of False counter: the lights that never go out, the razzmatazz, the perpetual motion ~ yet beneath all this, not too far from the surface, are the lives lived by the people & their shadows. I sense their collective strength ~ yet I sense their weariness too, their anxieties, their frustrations, their fears. In analytic terms New York becomes a projection: a facade or False Self that glosses over a state of trepidation. Will the Apple ripen or rot? And should the pregnancy go full term, what does the future hold for any newly born infant in New York; the whole of The United States; The World?

One thousand paper cranes
One thousand paper cranes

One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 47cm x 47cm (Framed) £265

This piece was inspired by the true story of Sadako Sasaki. Diagnosed with leukemia from the radiation fallout in Hiroshima, eight-year-old Sadako’s friend told her to fold origami paper cranes (orizuru). She was inspired to do so by the Japanese legend that one who created a thousand origami cranes would be granted a wish. Her wish was simply to live through her disease & become an accomplished runner.

Sadly, despite having folded well over one thousand paper cranes, she died on the morning of October 25, 1955. In 1958, a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was unveiled in the Hiroshima Peace Park. At the foot of the statue is a plaque that reads: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on Earth.”

The Female Christ crucifixion
The Female Christ: crucifixion

One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 47cm x 60cm (Framed) £275

This piece was inspired by Edwina Sandy’s 𝐶ℎ𝑟𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑎, a statue of a female Christ created in 1974 specifically for the United Nations Decade for Women. Her statue, cast in bronze, displays the battered body of a naked, crucified woman with a crown of thorns upon her head.

I thought long & hard before making the decision to create &, in particular, go public with this piece. I would be a fool if I thought some people wouldn’t feel uncomfortable, perhaps even angry, on viewing it. The last thing I ever want to do with my art is upset people ~ but, in every piece I make, I do try to paint potential stories within it: stories that might surface from within the viewer as they, hopefully, begin to connect with it.

As you can probably imagine, Sandy’s 𝐶ℎ𝑟𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑎 generated a storm of controversy when it was unveiled in The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. Detractors saw the statue as a ‘travesty against historical and doctrinal truth’ and it was removed from the cathedral eleven days later.

According to Elisabeth Vasko, Sandy’s statue calls attention to the ways in which both Christianity and society at large have muted the subjectivity of women by objectifying their bodies. 𝐶ℎ𝑟𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑎’s broken body, she explains, gives voice to ways in which the bodies of women have been abandoned and alienated from the Body of Christ (Vasko 2012).

One woman, after viewing the statue, wrote: “When many of us see the 𝐶ℎ𝑟𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑎 we see all the women we have known and loved and the women we have not known and yet love, shamed and cursed, tortured, raped, made the object of lust, and in sadomasochistic pornography hung on crosses.”

In light of abstract conversations about the beauty of The Cross, the sculpture foregrounds the long history of violence against women in a way that is difficult to ignore. 𝐶ℎ𝑟𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑎 visually calls into question “the ways in which the female body has been eroticized, suffering and self-sacrificial love valorized, and the maleness of Christ idolatrized within Christendom.” (Brooks Thistlethethwaite, 1991).

The question that 𝐶ℎ𝑟𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑎 continues to raise is whether the bodies of women can serve as symbols of salvation and of divine beauty. But why should they not? Stories need to be retold without the oppressive logic of a patriarchal society, explains Hélène Cixous. And so too art. 𝐶ℎ𝑟𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑎 exposes the patriarchal dimensions of such constructions and calls for a new vision of aesthetics ~ one that presents women’s experiences of suffering and salvation. This was my starting place: to do my utmost to create a feminist (as opposed to female) perspective on my own interpretation of the suffering described to me by hundreds of women during my lengthy clinical practice as a psychotherapist.

Swan in the rain
Swan in the rain

One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 44cm x 58cm (Print Only) £125

An impromptu stroll in the rain along the Skipton canal offered up this beautiful swan, idling beneath the garden wall of Mill Bridge Gallery. The muted reflections of a multitude of pink flowers was an added bonus
Don’t stop me now!
‘Don’t stop me now!’

One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 35cm x 49cm (Print Only) £125

‘I’m having such a good time
I’m having a ball
Don’t stop me now
If you wanna have a good time, just give me a call.’

The woman in this piece began life as a photograph of my wife, whilst Freddie began life as someone I photographed a while ago. As for the faces at the open window … you may just recognise a few of them.

Resting Butterfly
Resting Butterfly

One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 36cm x 42cm (Print Only) £125

An image triggered by a simple haiku:

Resting butterfly
A rooster stares
Time melts into water

If you’re unable to find a specific piece of art here or would like to view my whole gallery, visit either my Instagram or Facebook page, identify the title of the image you like and then contact me with the title for more information. In addition to the pieces listed above, all my art is available in three forms: a print only, a mounted print, a mounted and framed print.

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