Putting on a solo show of works made right up to the lockdown in March this year has been fascinating. I was surprised by the continuity of themes which emerged from the various projects, once I could see them all together.
The main theme was inspired by a visit to Bru na Boinne, aka Newgrange, near Drogheda in Co Meath, Ireland, a year or so ago. This is an astonishing collection of massive earthworks dating from prehistory (earlier than Stonehenge) and set in a ravishingly beautiful landscape. We visited three great mounds – Knowth, Dowth and finally the heavily restored Newgrange. Here we see how people built these massive artificial hills with tunnels to the inside aligned with the solstices… on midwinter’s day, Father Sun sends his rays to penetrate Mother Earth… the shaft of light shines down the long tunnel to the triple chambers deep inside. This triple arrangement of ‘rooms’ with their beautiful high corbelled roofs can also be found in different-but-similar constructions throughout the Mediterranean… and are not that different from the nave-transepts-chancel arrangement of our ‘modern’ churches, or indeed from the cervical-ovarian arrangement of women and other mammals.
In particular, I have been inspired by sites in Corsica, Sardinia (nuraghi) and Malta – all pre-Bronze Age, and all producing very striking little models of the female human, from within these triple-chamber buildings or constructions.
To me it is clear that the people who made these places were in connection with the powers of Fertility, seen as Female, or Feminine, and this insight led me to making various images considering the landscape, astronomy, darkness, mystery, femininity and power of these astonishing places.
So my exhibition shows abstract paintings of the land, the movement of heavenly objects (sun, moon), the female nature of harbours around our coasts, the quiet and contemplative nature of female deity, and how women express their godly powers in their bodies and postures. A series of small clay sculptures inspired by so-called ‘goddess’ figures found in their hundreds if not thousands in prehistoric sites across Europe (but scarcely ever seen or noticed because they are now only on display in remote and small local museums) also explores this bodily aspect of female divinity. It is fascinating how the concepts of beauty or desirability are so changeable….
For example, in Malta, obesity was clearly very highly revered. The figurines are even known as the Fat Ladies of Malta.
Another area I explored was the idea of Windows… how light comes in, how we can see out but not pass through – again a consideration of interior spaces.
There will be another exhibition of newer works – made since the start of the lockdown – in November. If you have seen this first show, you will be able to see these themes as I continue to explore these ideas.