The Sleeping Rabbi

This detail from the first of 3 panels concerned with the Semitic Myths. This first one is concerned with the founding myth of the Jews, the description in Hebrew of the creation, the story of the delivery from Egypt, the burning bush and the tablets of law, etc.

The old Rabbi sleeps, dreaming his foundation myths, clinging to the scroll on which the Pentateuch is written.

There is much to be done yet, but the idea seems to have been established. It needs working out in a series of developments.sleeping-rabbi-1

The two subsequent panels will depict a sleeping Christian, maybe an iconic type figure, and a Dreaming Mullah (maybe Rumi). Each will share the same scroll as the three religions do, written in three languages.

Panel 2. The Semitic Myth

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This is the first board of three, the other two depicting a sleeping Christian and a sleeping Mullah. The scroll that covers them will be lettered, in 3 columns, with Hebrew Greek and Arabic. The text on all three will be the same, the commonly held story of the creation all derived from the first book of the Jewish Pentateuch.

I wish to illustrate the commonality of beliefs and of doctrine of these three great religions, belonging to a single family.

This panel may not be sequentially correct. The Semites come early, but not that early.

Here are a few succinct extracts from Wikipedia:

“A large number of Non-Semitic speaking peoples inhabited the same general regions as the Semites: Sumerians, Elamites, Hattians, Hurrians, Lullubi, Gutians, Urartians and Kassites. Indo-European language speakers included; Hittites, Greeks, Luwians, Mitanni, Kaskians, Phrygians, Lydians,Philistines, Persians, Medes, Scythians, Cimmerians, Parthians, Cilicians and Armenians, and Kartvelian speakers included Colchians, Tabalites and Georgians.

The earliest positively proven historical attestation of any Semitic people comes from 30th century BC Mesopotamia, with the East Semitic Akkadian speaking peoples of the Kish civilization,[6][7] entering the region originally dominated by the non-SemiticSumerians (who spoke a language isolate). The earliest known Akkadian inscription was found on a bowl at Ur, addressed to the very early pre-Sargonic king Meskiang-nuna of Ur by his queen Gan-saman, who is thought to have been from Akkad. However, some of the names appearing on the Sumerian king list as prehistoric rulers of Kish have been held to indicate a Semitic presence even before this, as early as the 30th or 29th century BC.[8] By the mid 3rd millennium BC,[9] many states and cities in Mesopotamia had come to be ruled or dominated by Akkadian speaking Semites, including Assyria, Eshnunna, Akkad, Kish, Isin, Ur, Uruk, Adab, Nippur, Ekallatum, Nuzi, Akshak, Eridu and Larsa.

All early Semites across the entire Near East appear to have originally been Polytheist.

The influence of Mesopotamian religion can also be found in Armenian, Persian and Graeco-Roman religion and to some degree upon the later Semitic Monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, Mandaeism, Gnosticism and Islam.[13][14]”

It is therefore appropriate to place the Semitic panel at third place in the chronology. Our modern experience of Semitic culture and the Semitic ‘worldview’ is through the Semitic cultures now in existence in our modern world, dominated by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In all of these cases the culture has spread to other peoples than the racial Semites, because each the religions have passes, or are engaged in proselitization.

In a sense, Semitic culture is part of my own. In my early days as a Christian, the Semitic world view, and specifically that of the Jewish sect we call Christian, was the world in which I was nurtured. For some time I toyed with the idea of becoming a minister of religion, and for two years was a ‘local preacher’ on the Methodist ‘plan’ for the Flint, Holywell, Halkyn region of chapels. I can no longer recall any sermon I preached, but I imagine they followed the formula of quotation from somewhere in the bible then elaboration and commentary. In principal the religion I followed was formulaic and doctrinaire, with a system of belief to which everyone adhered. My preaching, I have no doubt, enforced the stories with repetition and example from personal experience, it was called ‘giving testimony’. I am still very interested in the nature and history of the Christian religion, its connections, its antecedents and its influence, and wish to take the opportunity of these paintings to widen my knowledge and reading.

In addition to the calligraphy around the head and feet of the sleeping figure I intend to arrange images from the particular versions of the myths appropriate to the sleeping figures.

However I have begun to develop some ideas for this panel, which I will outline here in this series of blogs.

Ambient Awareness

Just come across this phrase from the internet, a clever company that garners packets of unseen information about us as we visit their site. Here is their own description of the service they offer:

Want to know who my friends are? Connect to my Facebook. Want to know who I work with? Use my email domain. The money I spend? Connect to my bank. My revenue numbers? Just connect my Stripe account. The trips I’ve booked? You’ll find the receipts in my email, same for most things I’ve bought. With products like Gmaillaunching powerful APIs, the opportunities become endless.

Sometimes the data your product needs isn’t readily available. In those cases create the simplest integration possible (for your customer) to get it going forward. ForIntercom that means we offer a tiny snippet of code that is installed once, and removes the burden of data entry from that point onwards. There is no “New user” form, they’re automatically gathered now.”

Whats creepy about this is the concept, Ambiant awareness, conjuring up in my mind a picture of a vast sleepless mind, constantly building little neural complexes, little ganglia, modelling the real world, night and day throughout the world.

Hakim, a Moroccan Artist, visits St Johns Hall Gallery and demonstrates the art of calligraphy

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5E4f1qqKzSQ&w=560&h=315]

Hakim demonstrates the making of the pen, the mixing of the ink and the drawing of several famous caligraphic styles from around the Arab world.

November 15th. Progress (or otherwise) on the Golbeki Tepe painting

Its a struggle at the moment, the picture is continuously changing. Here is a guide to some of the new work if anyone should find it interesting. I have never made such a record before of the development of a painting. Every step of the way is of interest to the painter, but it makes my friends eyes glaze over, this obsession with the painting.

I find myself using the painting as a way of introducing myself to these extraordinary people. Because we have so little to go on, just the great stones, other sculpture, the architecture and form, some finds of interesting settlements where a communal form of life appeared to have existed with a large central food storage pit at the heart of the settlement. There was no written language, no pottery, no farming, no jewellery, but a rich culture if the stones are evidence to go on.

Each stone appears to have been a figure, perhaps a deity, perhaps a manifestation of a deity. Associated with each one are sometimes animals, as though the stones possessed individual characteristics, or was connected to its own myth. Some stones have ‘guardians’ connected to them, three dimensional figures carved in relief from part of the stone. In the centre of the rough circle or elipse formed by these stones are the two great stones.

The stones, it appears, were built into 2 meter high surrounding wall, facing inwards. Maybe the back of each stone was accessible from a platform accessing separate shrines. The pitted tops to the stones suggest offerings, burnings, sacrifice maybe.

A ‘portal stone’ named by Klaus the excavator of the site, gave entrance to the inner sanctuary. It was a discrete and enormous stone, a portal stone forcing entrants to step over a high stone portal in the same way that indian temples are so arranged. The appearance of a ‘top knot’ (possible depicting a snake and a moon) on the heads of what may have been monks, further suggests a vedic connection with these people.

At any rate, these people carry images and symbols from the ancient ice age peoples in a complex and elaborate system. Many of their ideas crop up in other places; Chatal Huyuk, Zoroastrianism, Egyptian religious symbolisms, and some of the signs of the zodiac are carved on pillars which are sometimes arranged in 12’s suggesting an astronomical (or astrological) connection.

Were they the proto Indo Europeans? were they the origin of the Semitic people? the Vedic peoples? or maybe all of them. Our ignorance gives wings to our imaginations.

October 22nd. Progress report. New panel begun

Its difficult to see this image again. By the time I come to photograph the days progress, the light has begun to fade in the studio. Coupled with that the images are still very dark. Maybe there is enough to see where it is going.

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You see that the second board has been covered now in the dark background mix, and an image has been added by a mixture of monoprinting and etching. You can see some of the simple etched images added to some of the confined rhombodes created by the intersections of the arbitrary events (the lines crossing the picture).

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The small images in the multitude of spaces, contributing to a sense of the cultural world view of these distant people. I think of these peoople as being closely related to trogladitic people who lived in caves during the great freezing. much of their world was of shadow and deep darkness. The passing of the ice must have opened up a paradise of green verdure and flocks of animals. Animals dominated their lives. They were hunters.

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This final image mocked up on photoshop shows where the image may be going.

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A few experiments with monoprints

Using variously treated MDF boards measuring 20″ x 20″ in order to make various experiments with different canvases, different primers, different inks, I made a frame to enable the printing:

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The following images were produced. In them, apart from trying various permutation, I am interested in exploring the way in which a series of random events can be introduced into the picture. The lines passing through the picture surface from any random direction were made by scribing them on the back of the canvas.

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This is a theme running through all the panels.
In the random matrix I tentatively experiment with emerging forms, complexity and structure out of chaos.

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The interesting network of lines can be variously shaded to create levels within the pattern.

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A variety of surfaces can be defined with knots and complexities, panels of colour, suggested images.

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Other swirls and marks can likewise define areas

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And used in combination with coloured sheets, Anything can be built up

Plans for an animated film are hatched during Atelier Day

Jasper Elgood describes his ideas for an animated film entitled ‘Egg Heads’. He plans to make the film in St Johns Hall Gallery during the Thursday ‘Atelier Days’ when the gallery is open to other artists to gather to work on projects that may be exhibited in a group show in the summer.

The work will make use of our new Media Centre in the gallery. Plans are being discussed for the formation of a film cooperative at the gallery, where technical skill needed for film making can be learned and shared, and projects worked on.