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Photomontage

Mage Lux Tenebris

The shaman, a diptych which goes by several titles, but I have used this one for simplicity. Trying to make the Latin translation has been tricky, since I am by no definition a scholar of the language – and may be considered a ‘rank amateur’. So I may not have it right, but this is hopefully near enough to give a feel for the intent of the piece.

The left piece is titled ‘Tenebris Lux Flamini’ (hopefully) translating roughly as ‘Light Dark Shaman’.

Whilst the second part is titled ‘Lux Tenebris Flamini’ translating roughly as ‘Dark Light Shaman’.

shaman
  • ‘Mage Lux Tenebris’
  • Digital Collage
  • 2019/2020
  • Sizes start at; 297x210mm (A4)

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Photomontage

Donum

symbolism

Donum (latin) translates as The Gift. It is a symbolism piece, as is often the case with surrealist art.

  • ‘Donum’
  • Digital Collage
  • 2019/2020
  • Sizes start at; 297x210mm (A4)
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Photomontage

Alchemical Trinitas

alchemy

Paracelsus identified three primes (tria prima) of alchemy. The Primes are related to the Law of the Triangle, in which two components come together to produce the third. In modern chemistry, you can’t combine the element sulfur and mercury to produce the compound table salt, yet alchemy recognized substances reacted to yield new products.

Perceived as you see fit
Child or divine
Gazing at the glow

The sulphurous sun
Hot and dry
Active
And change making
Always near
Within the circle
The moon
Like mercury
The receptive reflection

The prime circle of salt
In reactive reciprocity
Encompassing

Dissolved and condensed
A unified compound
A balanced whole
The philosophers stone

Tria Prima, the Three Alchemy Primes

  • Sulfur – The fluid connecting the High and the Low. Sulfur was used to denote the expansive force, evaporation, and dissolution.
  • Mercury — The omnipresent spirit of life. Mercury was believed to transcend the liquid and solid states. The belief carried over into other areas, as mercury was thought to transcend life/death and heaven/earth.
  • Salt — Base matter. Salt represented the contractive force, condensation, and crystallization.

Metaphorical Meanings of the Three Primes

SulfurMercurySalt
Aspect of Matterflammablevolatilesolid
Alchemy Elementfireairearth/water
Human Naturespiritmindbody
Holy TrinityHoly SpiritFatherSon
Aspect of Psychesuperegoegoid
Existential Realmspiritualmentalphysical

Paracelsus devised the three primes from the alchemist’s Sulfur-Mercury Ratio, which was the belief that each metal was made from a specific ratio of sulfur and mercury and that a metal could be converted into any other metal by adding or removing sulfur. So, if one believed this to be true, it made sense lead could be converted into gold if the correct protocol could be found for adjusting the amount of sulfur.

Alchemists would work with the three primes using a process called Solve Et Coagula, which translates to mean dissolving and coagulating. Breaking apart materials so they could recombine was considered a method of purification. In modern chemistry, a similar process is used to purify elements and compounds through crystallization. Matter is either melted or else dissolved and then allowed to recombine to yield a product of higher purity than the source material.

Paracelsus also held the belief that all life consisted of three parts, which could be represented by the Primes, either literally or figuratively (modern alchemy). The three-fold nature is discussed in both Eastern and Western religious traditions. The concept of two joining together to become one is also related. Opposing masculine sulfur and feminine mercury would join to produce salt or the body. 

Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. “The Three Primes of Alchemy.” ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/tria-prima-three-primes-of-alchemy-603699.

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Photomontage

We are beings…

I am fascinated by the idea that meaning has become embedded in our perception of certain objects and their images.

We are beings with a conscious and subconscious aspect; and symbols have the power to reveal subtle truths to us. I use photomontage to express these ideas. I explore the power of symbols to shape our world view. Each photomontage is like a jigsaw mystery whose parts must be understood to fully grasp their relevance as a whole.

You may not realise it. But symbols underpin everything we see; say; and do. They have the potential to exert influence upon us. They are also the foundation of our material perception.

So what is photomontage?

Photomontage is a collage made from photographs. Pieces and elements of several photographs are cut out and reassembled. This forms a new composition. This composition may then be re-photographed to form a seamless photographic print.

An alternative method to this is accomplished with image editing software. This process is also referred to as compositing.

The Victorian method of ‘combination printing’ as used by Oscar Gustave Reijlander (1857) is also called photomontage. This involved printing from more than one negative; onto a single piece of photographic paper.

Despite the perception that digital technology has made compositing easy, much of the work produced is highly involved and rivals the demands of ‘traditional arts’.

Please see my artist statement here and Axisweb profile here.

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Photomontage

Sapientiae

surrealism

This is titled ‘Sapientiae’ (latin) translates as Wisdom. It is surrealism and as is often the case with this genre deeply symbolic, but that is an explanation for another time.

This piece also goes by the title ‘Wisdom Sits on a Throne of Bricks’. Surely it would not sit on a throne of gold?

  • ‘Sapientiae’
  • Digital Collage
  • 2019/2020
  • Sizes start at; 297x210mm (A4)
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Photomontage

Auspicium

surrealist

This blood moon ‘Auspicium’ surrealist art print, translates from Latin as auspices. As most of these pieces it goes by several titles, the English being ‘Bad Omens Good Omens’. It is a Digital Collage I made in 2019/2020, it has ‘rose gold’ gilt edging and the sizes start at; 297x210mm (A4).

Centuries old
The book of Joel and revelation
Preacher of the blood moon
and apocalypse

This blood moon 
holds sway
Sway over a desert

Scorching heat
Paralysing cold
Spiritual thirst
Depletion and disorientation

But what of polarity
And the space between?
The space for alchemy

Navigating by the sun
Fluttering like
The flickering light

A master of metamorphosis
An alchemical vas
An object transformed 
And a vessel of transformation
The butterfly

custom made art print

This is the beautiful hand finished ‘Auspicium’ blood moon surrealist art print on archival fine art paper with a print sealer for added protection. The edges have been hand gilded with ‘copper’ effect leaf. The print has then been mounted on unbleached cotton calico with starch paste.

Firstly I have used this process because it references the preservation of historical works on paper. Secondly I find it makes the print more robust. Thirdly it causes the paper to warp, making something 2D more 3D, or object like

Because of the combination of the above processes this print is robust enough and self supporting to not require framing. There is a small hanging wire on the reverse to suspend it from. These look really lovely just hung straight on the wall.

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Photomontage

De Profundis

jungian

This is the ‘De Profundis Subconscious’ art print, which translates as ‘Depths of the Subconscious’ in true Jungian or shamanic fashion its about the journey within. Only after which can one have any hope of squaring the circle.

  • ‘De Profundis Subconscious’
  • Digital Collage
  • 2019/2020
  • Sizes start at; 297x210mm (A4)
A night sky
Filled with the sparks of consciousness.

The moon
Never revealing its dark side from the comfort of ignorance.

But are we not compelled to to navigate
this uncharted territory?
To bring it into the light.

Shamans favour the Owl
A powerful guide
Carrying the moon forth from deep recesses of mind

Their favour 
Is with the ability to dwell in darkness
Yet
Carry that darkness out into the light.

The question?
Will you be mired
Hopelessly lost in the darkness

Or emerge
Squared with self knowledge.

custom art print

This is the beautiful hand finished Jungian ‘De Profundis Subconscious’ art print on archival fine art paper with a print sealer for added protection. The edges have been hand gilded with ‘silver’ effect leaf. The print has then been mounted on unbleached cotton calico with starch paste.

Firstly I have used this process because it references the preservation of historical works on paper. Secondly I find it makes the print more robust. Thirdly it causes the paper to warp, making something 2D more 3D, or object like.

Because of the combination of the above processes this print is robust enough and self supporting to not require framing. There is a small hanging wire on the reverse to suspend it from. These look really lovely just hung straight on the wall.

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Photomontage

Solis Orbis Alis

Winged Sun Disk / Solis Orbis Alis

Do you recognise this symbol of the ‘Winged Sun Disk’. Because it has been used throughout world history and is imbued with symbolism.

Tenuous boundaries of the pathless forest
Enclosing
Yet beyond the realms of consciousness
The sun
The light of consciousness
And enlightenment
The abeyant wholeness of the psyche
Acute
The owls wings
Moving between light and dark
At will
Carrying this sun
Down form its overview
To our earthly perspective
Beware of imprudence
For this orb
Carried upon the owls wings
Can be the bringer of destruction
From the dark
To burn all in its path
With an atrocious heat.
With prudence
To all that face it
A maternal gaze
Bringing the spark of creativity
The potential of fecundity
And regenerative healing 
Choose well.

This is my digital collage / photomontage – ‘Winged Sun Disk’. I printed it on textured ‘fine art’ paper and edged it with gold leaf. Because it is not framed I finished it with print sealer.

I stuck the print down using wheat starch paste. Which is pH neutral and removable, onto unbleached cotton calico fabric. Firstly I have used this process because it references the preservation of historical works on paper. Secondly I find it makes the print more robust. Thirdly it also causes the paper to warp. Therefore giving the effect of making something 2D more 3D, or object like.

Title Language and Origins

My artwork has accrued several titles along the way. Firstly ‘The Winged Truth of Consciousness’. Along with its Latin translation ‘Ales Veritatis Conscientia’.

Then simply its historical name ‘Winged Sun Disk’. In this post I have used the Latin translation. Which is ‘Solis Orbis Alis’.

The Sun is sometimes referred to by its Latin name Sol or by its Greek name Helios. Whilst the English word sun stems from Proto-Germanic sunnǭ.

Why did I choose Latin? Because it is an old language tracing its roots to the Phonetician Alphabet, which in turn is derived from the Proto-Canaanite alphabet. This is the oldest fully matured alphabet, and ultimately derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Also, Latin roots are used in English descriptions of theology, the sciences, and medicine to name a few.

Historical Use

This is also found in ancient Egypt, Sumerian, Mesopotamian, Hittite, Anatolian, and Persian (Zoroastrian) civilisations. It is also found in the South American and Australian symbolism of remote cultures. It was also adopted by the Christian church in the Victorian era, who used it to symbolise the life-giving power of God. Because of this it is clearly a widely used symbolic theme. Albeit with many variations of presentation.

Winged Sun Disk – Origins and Meaning

There are many theories as to its origins. Because I’m not here to speculate on their veracity, I’ve simply listed several below;

  1. A representation of the sun at the time of eclipse. Because the wings (and sometimes tail) of the bird display elements of the solar corona. Because it is visible at the moment of total eclipse.
  2. Another version, says the disk depicts a mythical celestial body of Nibiru which is described in Sumerian mythology.
  3. Because of the symbols context, placement and similarity across the globe. The plasma physicist Anthony Peratt has carried out laboratory experiments and a survey of petroglyphs. This has led him to conclude that the past has witnessed the formation of a heaven-reaching plasma discharge tube, precipitated by a large influx of charged particles from space and an increased solar wind
  4. The more frequent interpretation of this symbol is its comparison with the sky, the sun, solar power and renewal of life or divinity, majesty, power and eternity of the spirit.

The early use of the Winged Sun Disk in Egypt is on the 4th dynasty coffin of Queen Hetepheres – 2500BC. From the 8th Century BC it was found on Hebrew seals. As well as in ancient Greece as the knob of the Staff of Hermes.

Other Versions

The winged sun disk is similar to another ancient symbol the Zoroastrian ‘fravahar’ found in Persia, latterly Iran. Another version of the Winged Sun Disk is the Winged Scarab with a sun above its head. This symbol was associated with Egyptian ancient god of the rising sun, Khepri (“He who is Coming into Being”) who is associated with rebirth, resurrection and new life as a winged scarab.

The astonishing aspect of this variant of the symbol is its discovery in 2018, amongst hundreds of petroglyphs (rock carvings). These were found in the Ratnagiri and Rajapur area of the state of Maharashtra in western India. The petroglyphs have been etched on the rusty-red coloured laterite rocks that dominate the flat hilltops of the Konkan coastline.

Director of the Maharashtra State Archaeology Department, Tejas Garge, is quoted as saying; “Our first deduction from examining these petroglyphs is that they were created around 10,000 BC,” Source

So its origins appear to lie in a far earlier epoch than we would dare to have imagined.

Winged Sun Disk – Latter Day Use

In his book ‘Symbolism of the Gods of the Egyptians and the Light They Throw on Freemasonry’, the neurologist and oculist Thomas Milton Stewart wrote; that the winged sun disk denoted “’to become – to be – to create’, and that it was a part of symbolical ornamentation of every temple, displayed over every gate and doorway,”

This books demonstrates the symbol has a more contemporary history as well. Through its use by the Freemasons. As well as Rosicrucianism, Thelema, Theosophy and the Unity Church.

Its adoption doesn’t stop with spiritual organisations ether. The corporate world sees value in it too. Because variations of the symbol are used as a trademark logo on vehicles produced by the Chrysler Corporation, Mini, Bentley Motors, Lagonda (Aston Martin) and Harley Davidson (Source Wikipedia).

Furthermore it is seen in popular culture. For instance; Kubrick’s ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ – 1968. ‘Alien’ – 1979. It is the ‘Golden Snitch’ in Harry Potter – 2001/2010. As well as too many others to mention here.

Symbols help elucidate our psyche. They do this through our responses to them.

I will be posting more content related to this in the future. As well as making versions of this available to buy. So please contact me or come back for more interesting stuff.

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Thinking About...

The Insulated Traveller

photomontage collage

This might be topical at the time of writing, but what about when its revisited? So I will give it a little context. Its April 2020 and Covid 19 is keeping us in quarantine. People are under stress from the newness and unpredictability of this situation, and all the attendant human urges bubbling up to the surface.

‘Captain Tom’ 99 year old Tom Moore raised tens of millions for the NHS to help with its Covid 19 response. He did this by completing 100 laps of his Bedfordshire garden in a limited time. Whilst 90 year old Margaret Payne is climbing her stairs to equal a mountain of 2,398ft within a month. Again to raise funds for the NHS.

All this set me thinking of a symbolic reflection of the phenomena. The symbolism in a piece of my work titled ‘The Insulated Traveller’ seemed to fit with my intuition on the matter. So I went onto express it thus;

‘Captain Tom’ and ‘great grandmother Margaret Payne’ have acted as a lens to focus an innate human need.

A need for the collective and compassion. For direction, inspiration and action.

When the least among us lead us, this need goes unfulfilled. So we seek it where we find it, and in this instance from some of our most vulnerable.

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Thinking About...

Vas Hermeticum

Vas Hermeticum

Vas Hermeticum is a symbolic alter ego of myself. A physical manifestation, of concepts and philosophies that are central to the interests of my art practice.

So far he has primarily been a representative or intermediary on social media. Such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. As well as an appearance in a recent artist workshop, which I made for The Arts Active Trust. They are a registered charity that supports education, community and audience engagement projects within Cardiff and surrounding areas.

For a little more insight as to his name you could read this previous blog post of mine. Because I do have other plans for him, you should keep an eye for his upcoming activities.

Why the semi fictional research establishment C.A.S.E, (an acronym for the Centre of Archetypal Symbol Exploration)? Because this is the organisation that Vas Hermeticum operates under.

At varying degrees and times, both serve as modes of expression and vehicles for my art research, production and education activities.

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