Sunday, 7 June 2015

San Jose 33

San Jose 33 Oil on Canvas 122x76cm Tom Cullen 2010

                                           I painted "San Jose 33" towards the end of 2010,after making a small acrylic sketch in which I experimented with contrasting colour tones and tonal values. This colour combination seemed to work and I changed the profile from horizontal to vertical from the original sketch to improve the composition. The intention was to be very simple,direct and explore some freedom during the painting sessions.
                                                Whilst I was completing this painting, news updates were coming through with regard to the miners trapped in Copiapo,Chile.On the 5th August the mine had collapsed leaving thirty three workers 600 metres underground.Once it was known that they were still alive, the rescuers implemented a comprehensive plan to 

Study for San Jose 33 Acrylic on paper
both nurture and release them. The whole world was now focused on this mission, whilst the miners beneath endured severe food rationing and isolation. However, the moment of global joy came some sixty nine long days later, when one by one, the miners were brought to the surface over a period of almost twenty four hours. For once,the media had something positive to focus on and the world celebrated this success of this mission.
                                                It seemed appropriate therefore to call this painting"San Jose 33". After all it appears from the beginning, it may have been an inner exploration of personal entrapment and the desire for freedom. Given the pain and sacrifice these miners endured during this intensive time of confinement, it is more than important to pay homage to them and also to those who secured them safely.

"Song for San Jose Miners" by Jack Warsaw

Above: Opening Night at the W3 Gallery, "Global Dimensions" Exhibition June 4th.

Sunday, 31 May 2015


"Revelation" Oil on Canvas  Tom Cullen 2007

I painted "Revelation" at the same time and as part of the same painting sessions as"Through the Edge of Darkness" at the Hampstead School of Art, London in 2007. Both paintings emerged as part of the same process whereby I used a camcorder and took some close up stills of some other works I had done previously. Once I was happy with the images I selected, I worked them up on a much greater scale. And so the two paintings came about.

"Revelation" is a reference to The Book of Exodus. In this we are told of how Yaweh (God) appears to Moses at Mount Horeb in the form of a burning bush. This powerful image represents many things to Jews, Christians and Muslims: God's miraculous energy,sacred light, illumination and the loving heart of purity, love and clarity. From a human standpoint it also represents Moses reverence and fear before the divine presence. It was from this point that he became appointed to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and in to the promised land Canann.

Throughout history to the present day tribes and collective groups have had to flee their place of birth in order to escape conflict or natural disaster. More than 35,000 migrants are thought to have crossed from Africa to Europe this year alone and some 1,750 are thought to have died while attempting their journey. More than 750 migrants are thought to have died off the coast of Libya in a boat disaster on the 18th April this year, At least 200 of these were Senegalese and 350 Etrians according to the United Nations but there were also migrants from Syria, Somalia, Sierre Leone, Mali, Gambia, Ivory Coast and Ethiopa.

I am proud to be showing "Revelation" along with some other paintings at the W3 Gallery, Acton Town as part of  "Celebrating Sanctuary and Refugee Week" from June 4th.

For the Israelites, it took many generations to arrive at the promised land, but key I suppose is that they never lost faith and had a set of values from which to live. I expect this is what helped them to get to where they wanted, by being open to possibility and putting their trust in something greater than themselves.

"Revelation" is on show at the"Global Dimensions"- a Celebrating Sanctuary Exhibition at  W3 Gallery, 185 High St, Acton, London W3 9DJ.

   June 4th- 18th.