Archives for posts with tag: Art

The Coming of the Cardinal

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Thomas, J.E, (2006), “Humans in Winter”, Encaustic on paper

scarab jewellery 001

 

Bracelet c.1400BCE (New Kingdom) Egypt, findspot unknown, gold, lapis lazuli, cornelian and glazed composition, 20.0cm length, British Museum, London

Scarab beetles were associated with the gods Atum/Re and Khepri in ancient Egypt[1]. According to one conception of the universe, the scarab beetle was the sun travelling across the sky[2] and its protective imagery was used as a stone seal on the mummified remains of the heart, as its hieroglyph meant ‘come into being’ or ‘to exist’[3]. It also was known to actually replace the heart within the mummy[4]. In particular, it was the movement that the dung beetle, Scarabeus sacer, made as it rolled a ball of dung across the ground that was considered interpretative of the sun’s movement across the sky, with the scarab god, Khepri, being responsible for the sun’s transit[5]. The analogy of the self-creating Khepri, known as ‘he who is coming into being’, was reinforced by the scarabs being seen to emerge from these balls, which was the result of these balls containing the beetle’s eggs[6].

This New Kingdom bracelet from Egypt is dated c.1400BCE. Its composition is gold, lapis lazuli, cornelian and glazed ceramics. The lapis lazuli scarab beetle plays a central role in its design, with the main features of the beetle being outlined in gold filigree focusing on the head, thorax and wings. The six legs of the insect are designed so that they provide linkages to the rest of the bracelet, with the strong front and back legs holding the links and the smaller middle legs maintaining the balance of the design. The filigree outlines the wing casings and the thorax of the beetle and the lapis lazuli is carved out to give tiny detailed eyes to the front of the head. Overall, the scarab maintains a strong ovoid design which is also displayed in many other depictions of the scarab beetle in Egyptian art and design.

The actual scarab beetle can be monotone black, brown, patterned or iridescent. They are large and ovoid in shape, have six rather sturdy legs and three distinct parts- the small hemispheric head which extends to the thorax and the large wings joined at their centre by a small, reverse semicircle. Attached to the head are two short, thick antennae. The dimensions of the beetle have been replicated exactly in the design of the bracelet, with the details of the two forward-looking eyes and lines of the body being also accurate. The wings are delineated accurately yet without the addition of the joining semicircle. The eyes and mouth have been depicted on the bracelet without the addition of the antennae. The muscular front legs are also accurately crafted, but the middle and back legs are more simplified. Owing to the emphasis on the beetle in the design of the bracelet, it could be suggested that the bracelet had a protective as well as aesthetic role, perhaps having a use in reproduction such as a cultic charm bracelet.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Teeter, E. (2002) “Animals in Egyptian religion” in History of the Animal World in the Ancient Near East , Collins, Billie Jean , 2002 , pp.335-360
  2. Kritsky, G.; Cherry, R. (2000) “Insects in Egyptian mythology” in Insect Mythology , Kritsky, Gene; Cherry, Ron , 2000 , pp.49-63
  3. Potts, T. (1990) “Egyptian jewellery” in Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum, Potts, Timothy, 1990, Australian National Gallery, pp.76-79


[1] Teeter, E. (2002) “Animals in Egyptian religion” in History of the Animal World in the Ancient Near East , Collins, Billie Jean , 2002 , p.337

[2] Ibid. p.343

[3] Ibid. p.346

[4] Kritsky, G.; Cherry, R. (2000) “Insects in Egyptian mythology” in Insect Mythology , Kritsky, Gene; Cherry, Ron , 2000 , p.52

[5] Ibid. p.49

[6] Potts, T. (1990) “Egyptian jewellery” in Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum, Potts, Tim. 1990, p.76

[7] Ibid. p.78

The Final Hour

 

Afternoon, 2007, oil on canvas

The Captives, 2010, egg tempera, pigment and mixed media on board

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Rural Woman

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The Aunties

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The Carpet Sellers

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Woman Riding a Camel

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Breadmaking

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The Knife-Sharpener

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The Bridge

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The Uncle

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Fishing Boats

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Zororastrian Burial Tower

Look, Glaucus, the broad-backed combers

are running high, storm clouds black out

Gyrae’s peak, and around my heart

a fear that rises from the unforeseen.  

ARCHILOCHUS

 

ANAKRONOS

In his novel Freedom and Death, Nikos Kazantzakis describes the revolutionary war fought against the Ottoman Turks in late 19th century Crete. He wrote about a small iconographic image of an emaciated woman, covered in blood, with her children clinging to her legs. It was this imagery that initially inspired the central figure in this nine panel granite frieze. However, I did not want my hero to be pitied; I wanted her to be feared. So I went back to the description of Athena- the warrior goddess, and clothed her in all her ‘daedalic’ glory. Her breasts are confrontational; her gun, a replacement for the sword; a belt of shot placed around her hips. This woman is not emaciated, she is an emancipator.

To Axion Esti is Odysseus Elytis’ evocation of eternal Greece, his experience of the Second World War and its aftermath, and his celebration of human life. Elytis won the Nobel Prize in 1979 for his poetry which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts the sensuous strength and intellectual clarity of a modern human’s struggle for freedom and creativity. It was the poem To Axion Esti that was an essential element in the work Anakronos. 

Finally, the composer Mikis Theodorakis, one of the giants of contemporary Greek arts, has been the mainstay of my work. His choral symphony of To Axion Esti is a sublime interpretation designed to urge humans to be their greater selves. The primal link between each of these great people is one that reaches back to the ancient past of Euripides, Socrates and Pythagoras, and endeavors to propel us into the future. Anakronos, therefore, is a message for the individual to resist totalitarianism of any kind. 

Nicholas Georgouras 2010

Nicholas Georgouras, “UM”, Greek Pentelikon Marble, 110 x 55 x 55 cm

 

HYPNOS

The rills and gullies and saddleback hills are sleeping now,

the talus slopes of the mountain are asleep,

and the low scrub thickets, and the riverine glades.

Sleep gathers in the sound of the water’s fall,

in the trade winds riffling the coral shoals;

and all four-footed creatures the black earth breeds-

the race of bees, the gathering tribe of broad-winged birds,

the monsters plundering the bloodshot sea-

all are asleep in the depthless conjuring of that sound.

Alcman