Ragnarok/Twilight of the Gods

 

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Ragnarok/Twilight of the Gods, acrylic on canvas, 51 x 41 cm.  Colleen Kerr 2015

Two ravens (Odin’s eyes and ears).

One perished in humanity’s maelstrom

the other, now broken and blind.

Odin’s Raven

clutches the Rhinegold.

She cannot tell him

the hills, they are moving, alive – no,  they are afire, like Brunhilde’s prison.

The Norn predicted. The Norn spun our illusions, wove our fates

Weft our deeds. Warp our undeeds

Their weaving says:

“The mighty will fall

The gods will die

Valhalla will empty

of warriors, they and their battlefield deeds

like the blood they shed

will soak

into the earth

the burning earth.”

And Odin’s Raven

clutches the Rhinegold.

The Rhinemaidens enslaved long ago,

their river poisoned and damned.

And Odin’s Raven

clutches the Rhinegold.

The salmon, containing countless  pearls, the salmon, the Rhinegold,

the Grail that holds the holiest of holies.

life itself.

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Circe

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Circe, acrylic on panel, 96 x 127 cm, 2015

I.
On my island I weave
I study the plants, the animals, the wind, the waves.
They call it magic, I say it’s science
They call me a witch, I say I’m a philosopher.
Leave me to my studies and observations.
On this tiny island, no one can find me.
I almost understand, I’m almost there.

II.
I am a Goddess
There are high expectations.
My reputation is staked upon my knowledge yet
my studies are constantly interrupted
By travelers arriving on my shores
salt stained seafarers,
dessicated from sun and wind,
eyes burning and dull from
staring at endless horizons.

I give them food, wine, shelter
That is the Colchis way.
And once their bellies are full,
their thirst quenched, the rested eyes
refocus on my island, my careful and wild gardens
My sprawling abode
Upon Me.
“I could get used to this!” they shout
“I think I’ll stay and make it mine” shamelessly
as if I cannot hear.

“And I’ll tame that bitch.”
They nod meaningfully to each other.

I will not be possessed.
I am the Goddess, Circe
Daughter of Helios the Sun and Oceana of the Sea,
Sister of Aeetes (keeper of the Golden Fleece).
Aunt of the Minotaur.

III.
These hard warriors
With their sweat and foul breath
Their flashing swords and ugly words.
So arrogant in the presence of the Gods.

It’s laughable, really.
Undone, rendered powerless
By this tiny, common weed
steeped in wine.
I could have easily killed them
with my poison
But they insulted me.
So I did what only a Goddess can:
I took away their humanity.

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I poisoned these unwelcome guests.
I know herbs. I poisoned them.
Nightshade, of course.
The results were amusing, to say the least

It brought out the true nature of
These beastly men.
The big one that just ate, slept and
passed wind
Transformed into a bear.
The one who bragged from dawn til dusk: “I showed them Trojans who’s boss!”
became a rooster that crowed mercilessly.
That one, who slipped around quietly, watching,
Sticking his nose where it didn’t belong
– he turned into a snake.
It became an experiment for me to predict their transformations.
Some of them, who spent their time looking at the ocean thinking of home
turned into seabirds and dolphins and slipped away.
The others kept their distance from me and roamed over the island,
Preying upon each other, for that is the way of human nature.
All that remain are a few old toothless lions and wolves.
Guarding the shores from wayward travelers.

IV.
At last I am alone again, and now that there is quiet to continue my work,
I find myself staring at the shadows cast from my fire
On the wall, and wonder at the true nature of reality.

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Sakartvelo Anahata

“I am so excited, I can’t commit to anything, but it can be anything. It will be uniquely mine. If I was at home, what would I paint next? I had worked with the senses: scent, hearing, taste, thinking; I’d next considered the heart as the site for love … But not love as a cheap motif of romance. The fact is that love and goodness are at the core of this project.”
~ journal entry: 19/05/15

before departing, i was asked again and again: what will you paint? am i painting for georgia, painting for canada, painting for me? to paint to paint what to paint in this landscape my soul’s recognition so familiar yet so different
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an ancient land of gold of clay of earth of roots of figs of vine of grapes of god of monks of priests of panthers of occupation of insurrection of reconstruction of resurrection kvevri sit broken unused yet their clay descendants made lovingly by the great grandsons of their makers are buried crucibles of nature’s magic alone for the black wine which is more than wine the first wine the earth the roots the grape the god transmuting over time immemorial never forgotten history that upon which one’s honour lies witnessed by cows strolling freely as their sacred sisters in far away lands udders swollen with milk for cheese as rare as the golden fleece.
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nino came not for the fleece but climbing high planted a swooning cross made of vine wood the grape the god her brother george slaying the dragon again and again the dragons come the persians the turks the russians seem forever at the door breathing fire unsettling the hinges yet those within the dreamers the poets the painters the singers the dancers the warriors cry joyfully perhaps to spite modi modi they cry the earth the mountains the vine the grape the god the hermit’s cave the sacred space held together by stones by frescoes by frankincense by beeswax by centuries of genuflextion:
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the gold the earth the roots the vine the grape the god they flex they dare defying dragons defying time’s hot hand that tries to crumble the mortar all crooked stairs musty cellars the sweat the smoke the earth the roots the grape the god the dreamers the poets the painters the singers the dancers and the tamuda who never shirks his duty. cries of gaumarjos – to win! come in dragons come to the supra and feast with us do you dare? your fire cannot burn our dreams our songs our paintings our poems our stories our dances our hearts our will. fuelled by your sacred foods your stories your mountains your earth your roots your grape your god king tamar quietly sits behind me watching waiting i paint and paint and paint and find my sakartvelo anahata.
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*sakartvelo:the native georgian name for their country. Its root, kartvel-i (ქართველ-ი), referred to inhabitants of the core central region Kartli, later expanded to other areas of medieval Georgia held together by religion, culture, and language. The Georgian sa- (x)-o “the area where (x) dwell”.

anāhata: In Sanskrit, anahata means “unhurt, unstruck and unbeaten”. Also known as the heart chakra, it represents selfless love, compassion, courage, healing and interconnectedness (from Hindu Yogic, Shakta and Buddhist Tantric traditions).

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From Crossings to Paint for Georgia

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The genesis of Paint for Georgia (an annual International painting festival held in Mtskheta, Georgia, was in Klaipeda, Lithuania, in 2012.

“Isroildzon Baroti and Ieva Vedeikaite of Baroti Gallery created CROSSINGS, an international art project that used the concept of migration (of people and venue) to extend cultural, artistic and personal borders. It was established as a network of artists and cultural organisations across Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. This initiative is based on public artistic process and concentrates on interpersonal and social communication”*

One of the invited artists was Giorgi (George) Tabliashvili, a Georgian painter, illustrator and designer from Tbilisi, Georgia. George and Ieva (a media and installation artist from Lithuania, became friends and talked about bringing a similar festival to Georgia.

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Giorgi & Irakli Tabliashvili, Ieva Vedeikaite

In 2012 the first Connections, Paint for Georgia residency/exhibit took place in the historical city of Mtskheta. It has evolved and grown year by year. Soon, George’s brother Irakli Tabliashvili, a well known and respected journalist and broadcaster came on board as co-cordinator. 

This year, 2015, they host artists from India, Canada, Egypt, Lebanon, Poland, Holland, Iceland, Georgia and England. Ieva now lives in Iceland (no longer with the Baroti Gallery), and has joined us this year as a participant.

I heard about the festival from fellow artist Cindy Mersky. She had nothing but praise for the festival, for George, and for the country of Georgia in general.

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Paint for Georgia 2015 Artists

Today, six days into the ten day residency, I can tell you that I think the concept, and especially the spirit behind it, was a brilliant one. Yes, it is called a painting residency, but this year we also have a photographer and a media artist, and somehow, there is a place for them. They are integral members of our group.

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We are working in a public venue; our paintings leaning against the house across the street from our hotel. It’s quietly active. Local people amble by occasionally, others make a special visit to see us at work. The weather is beautiful and conducive to creating outdoors.

In my last post, I touched on Georgian hospitality. And how better to foster interpersonal and social communication than through sitting down together around a table three times a day; sharing thoughts, stories of home, our art, much laughter, and of course, endless plates of cheese, khachipuri, cups of tea and glasses of wine?

In Georgia, there is the Tamada. Traditionally in mixed groups is “he” (among us non-traditional artists it is “she” as well) The Tamada is the toastmaster/host at the table. The toasts are philosophical, thoughtful and poetic, often rambling improvisations. The Tamada can make another member of the party Alaverdi, asking them to give a toast.  At our meals, we have each been honoured with the Alaverdi role; with themes such as freedom, friendship, artistic bonds, future artists and, again, friendship. It is a beautiful thing.

If I were to give a rôle to each of our organisers, I would say George is the heart and soul, Irakli is the dynamic machine that makes things happen, Ieva is a sort of guardian angel who quietly appears and patiently helps you untangle whatever needs untangling. And finally, I’ve been told that the quiet power behind the scenes that keeps everyone going and on track is George and Irakli’s mother, Marina.

And so here we continue to paint, eat, drink wine, paint, tour incredible ancient sites, eat, drink more wine, tell stories, and paint.
I short, what I call Good Old Creative Living.

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* from the “CROSSINGS 2013” catalogue.

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Midnight Flight to Georgia

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I’m in Mtskheta, Georgia to participate in an international art festival called “Paint for Georgia”. As soon as I was accepted, I realised I knew nothing about the country. I chose this first photo because I soon learned that Georgia is famous for its hospitality and good food.

“A Guest is From God” ~ Georgian expression

After being picked up at the airport by the festival organisers, brothers Giorgi (George) and Irakli Tabliashvili, we met Ieva Vedeikaite and went for a meal in old Tbilisi. Georgia makes uniquely excellent wine, and while we were waiting for our meal, Irakli spirited Ieva and I across the street to a wine cellar for some speedy wine tasting.

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We tried two white wines; the first, of Georgian grapes made in the European method, was crisp, light and smooth. The second, of the same grapes, made by the Georgian method, was a characteristic deep amber colour. It tasted similar, but deeper, earthier, and unlike any wine I’d ever tasted.

“Gagimarjos” ~ to win!

Back at the dinner table, I had my first taste of khachipuri. Described as Georgian pizza, it’s simply a thin crust topped with Sulguni cheese and baked. And of course, more wine. I learned the traditional toast of eastern Georgia: “gagimarjos!”

I had travelled two days by air to get to Georgia, so I was beginning to get giddy from lack of sleep, crossing several time zones, and a couple glasses of wine. Arriving at the guest house hotel was a welcome end to the evening. George showed me around, explained that he stocked the kitchen and that we were to help ourselves. He also introduced me to the hotel’s owner, Shote.

Tea with Shote

After settling in my room, I ventured down to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Shote appeared from nowhere and insisted on making my “chai”. I knew three Kartuli (Georgian) words, and Shote as many in English. We managed to communicate somehow through sound effects and wild gesturing. He showed me his art (he is a well known ceramicist). Before I knew it, a 2 litre pop bottle of homemade wine emerged from the ‘fridge, and I had the opportunity to practice
“gagimarjos!” again.

And that brings us back to the first photograph. The next morning, I stumbled down to the kitchen, and Shote again materialised and began to prepare breakfast for me. I hadn’t yet learned the phrase “ara madloba” (no thank you), and he pretended not to understand my head shaking in the negative and waving of hands. This photo is the breakfast laid out for me alone, the sole guest of the hotel at this point.

Now that’s hospitality.

…Next time, the story of how “Paint for Georgia” began, and the amazing people behind it all.

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Genius Locii

Acrylic on Canvas, 16 x 20
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The Human Brain. Avebury Henge.
These ancient sites are inhabited by Genius Locii: Protective Spirits. Prominent stones, barrows, lobes were later named after the Christian devil to discredit the significance of the spiritual locus. For genius is amoral, a force of nature and so impossible to reconcile to dogma. Still, after thousands of years, the Genius Locii refuse to obey.

My thoughts meander through this landscape, making connections at odd crossroads, as our brains often do. I wonder where exactly is this Genius of the human brain located. Does it sit in the Devil’s Chair, or languish in the Devil’s Den? Perhaps it is seared into our consciousness by the Devil’s Brandirons, or flies freely as sparks from his infernal anvil.

I fancy that flying ever outward and inward simultaneously like planets on their predestined revolutionary paths, the Genius Locii seek out their final place of rest in the henges and brains that reside in as yet unborn universes.

I have no answers, but so many questions. For how can the brain ever know itself?

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H(EAR) I am.

(H)ear, acrylic on canvas, 16x20

H(ear), acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, 2014

Welcome to the inaugural post of my new art blog!

I thought I would start things off by telling you a little about the image I have chosen to represent this page, and about my working process.  This work is the first in a short series of paintings based on the sensory organs. I began with an an anatomical cross section of the human ear, and I soon began to think about the structure of the inner ear; hearing, sound, music and as so often happens: the universe.  Like most of my paintings, it started with a basic paint drawing in black and white, then layer upon layer of colour, restructuring the image until the painting tells me it is done.

I almost always use the written word to develop my ideas. Often, these words appear in the work (as they do in this painting) and sometimes they are text that accompany the visual art when exhibited. Other times, they are simply notes and quotes that help me look at my idea from another perspective and contribute to it’s (and often my own) development.

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Notes for painting and text development for H(ear).

H(ear)

I. Two Messengers

The hummingbird, that flying jewel, the messenger who flies on wings of infinity.
Greek god Hermes, known as Mercury to the Romans, the messenger whose namesakes are a silvery liquid, and the planet that rules communications.
Quicksilver hummingbird perches outside my window singing me his message: the Music of the Spheres.

II. Musica Humana
When I am perfectly still, in silence, I hear my breath, pulse, the rush of blood through my head. A quiet so thick and deep that the line between my soul and body resonates, creating its own unique music.

III. Musica Universalis
Holding a seashell (Fibonacci’s Golden Spiral manifested) to my ear, do I hear the ocean or an echo of my body?
1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144…
A mathematical relationship expressing tones and harmonies in numbers, angles, shapes and sounds.
Pythagoras thought the Sun, Moon and planets each resonate with their own unique song as they orbit. He proposed that the quality of life on Earth reflects the tenor of celestial sounds, physically imperceptible to the human ear.

IV. Shakespeare
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils,
The motions of his spirit are dull as night
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.

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