For this blog I thought it might be interesting for me to share with you a little of what goes into creating my Celtic art pieces: the inspiration, symbolism and colours - there's a lot more than what meets the eye! But first...
John Gentry is a gentleman. A man of peace. A gentle man of peace. He's one of those people whose face never seems too far away from a smile. He's also one of those people who doesn't speak much but when he does you want to listen. Add humility, kindness and wisdom to that and you're starting to see the sort of person John is. I've had the honour of exhibiting with John several times when we were both members of the London-based art group, Commission 4 Mission. When I asked for suggestions regarding my next art project, he who suggested 'Peace'. As one who's struggled for so long with finding peace, and still does (though I'm getting there slowly), I knew I wanted to do it.
It was Albert Camus, the French Nobel Prize-winning author and philosopher, who gave us the quote I used in the title. Nearly 2000 years previous, the day before his death, Jesus Christ, who has been described as 'The Prince of Peace' said to his friends: 'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.' For him, peace was a gift to be shared. For others it was more a question of balance. The Buddha said, 'We cannot obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves,' whilst for Mother Teresa, another Nobel prize winner (this time, for peace), it was community and service: 'If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.'
One of my favourites is from the guitarist whose album release, 'Are You Expreienced?' in 1967 changed the musical world forever. Jimi Hendrix said, 'When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.' Profound words. I think he was right.
...that elusive quality. For mankind and the individual. To keep hold of it is a daily challenge and as an art project it challenged me too!
As I reflected on the theme I had the idea to include two symbols: the triquetra and the dove. For many, the triquetra, or Celtic Trinity Knot, represents the perfect harmony of a Triune God; the dove is the universal symbol for peace.
But how to incorporate these into a traditional knotwork pattern? Aye, there's the rub! In the end I found the answer in adapting the work of an unknown Irish artist from the 9th century Book of Kells. In this incredible illuminated manuscript, we find a lovely three-in-one spiral border pattern which incorporates the triquetra.
I then took one strand from the third spiral to give issue to a dove, as in the Credo we read that the Spirit 'proceeds from the Father and Son'.
However, in separating the spiral I had created a gap beneath my dove with a 'loose' strand. So I used this to represent peace flowing like water from the dove.
Colours for me are often symbolic so the ones I used here were too. The Trinity Knot represents Father, Son and Spirit: the life of the God the Father (green) gives birth to God the Son (red) from whom flows God the Spirit (blue) for the Spirit.
Finally, in penciling out the lettering, I included another dove, sitting on the branch of the second 'e', with an olive branch in its beak. This image is taken from the Biblical account of the end of The Great Flood, the end of the worldwide destruction and the return of peace:
'When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.' Genesis 8:11
I was very happy when I finally finished the piece on November 2nd. It had taken 18 hours. Like anything worthwhile, it had been a challenge, presenting obstacles I needed to overcome in order to get to the finish line. But in the end it was worth it. And leaning back to look at the framed artwork for the first time in my studio, I must say I felt an enormous sense of achievement.
And I had peace.
'Peace', glazed and framed. Click on image for more info.