Sunday, 1 May 2011

Hymn to the Mother of God

Hymn to the Mother of God  2008 oil on wood   99x68cm

                                            Coming home, one May evening I found these panels of wood - part of an old defunct garden door lying carelessly by the kerb.It is always exciting using found material for painting and I could almost sense this door was waiting for me to inject a new life. After giving it the usual preparation and treatment,I primed it in a black matt paint,waiting anxiously for it to dry.
                                            I painted the blue and white stripes thinly in oils, allowing visibility of the black underneath and allowing the colour to float, hover and vibrate.Next,I worked on the purple horizontal bands, using a darker tone allowing the viewer to be drawn towards the centre panels.Finally,I painted the very top and bottom panels in a subtle grey to push these areas back and to give prominence to the blue, white and purple panels.I intentionally did not alter the holes in the left side panels leaving it raw and incomplete.I regard the work therefore,as being unfinished, but maybe this conveys a sense of honesty. In addition, doors themselves can be symbolic and are commonly used as metaphors in many cultures and art forms.  
                                        So does the abstract painting "Hymn to the Mother of God" metaphorically represent a Madonna for the twenty first century? Does it echo the music of John Tavener?  Is there a suggestion perhaps, of a value in connecting with ones spiritual roots, wherever they may lie?  Maybe it is not a religious painting at all but questions our own psychological state and values. However, that is for you the viewer to decide. All I know is that if I had changed my route home that summer evening, I may not have found this material and painted "Hymn to the Mother of God" at all. And you may find both these films deeply moving.    

Hymn to the Mother of God" is a piece of music by John Tavener released in 1995. Drawn to it's mysticism, Tavener joined the Orthodox Church in 1977, studying and setting music to the writings of the church fathers.His "Song for Athene" was memorably performed at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. Subsequently,he composed a piece based on William Blake's poetry "Eternity's Sunrise" dedicated to her memory. Although remaining Orthodox, Tavener has more recently explored Hinduism and Islam.    
Mary, a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee is identified in the New Testament and in Islam as the mother of Jesus through divine intervention. Christians believe that she conceived her son miraculously through the Holy Spirit, whilst Muslims believe she conceived by the command of God. The bible records Mary's role in the events of the life of Jesus from beginnings to crucifixion. Apocryphal writings tell of her subsequent death and bodily assumption into heaven. Many Christians believe Mary as mother of Jesus is the Mother of God. Muslims regard her as Virgin Mother of Jesus, who is considered a prophet of Islam. Throughout  the ages, the image of Mary became a significant subject in art,music and literature. Although not recorded in the Gospels,the image of her cradling the dead body of her Son is a common symbolic motif in art called a "pieta" or "pity".   
       Source for material in italics: Wikipedia 2011.                                                                                                                  

Medugorje in western Bosnia & Hertzegovina has become a popular pilgrimage site since 1981 due to reports of apparitions of the Virgin Mary to six local Catholics. Mirjana Soldo reports receiving messages on the 2nd of each month as demonstrated in this film from October 2010.