‘Belief’, 2014, Mixed Media
All images belong to Rosalie Miller.©
The work that was exhibited through Substance was a development on previous works of mine. Religion taking a stranglehold on my mind and fascinations within art. Here, the Alchemy circle is continued in a more realised form; coinciding with the concept of a trinity, the more pagan altar situated on the floor consists of a tri-circular pattern, crafted from porcelain stones, and a series of symbols relating to the recurring theme of ‘Resurrection’. Throughout the pieces within the gallery, of which the three consisted of the two altars, and the hanging birds; all focusing on a consistent theme of the exploration of resurrection through worship, and of a means of gaining the ability to transcend between the two separate ‘planes’ of a spiritual reality. After exploring notions of resurrection since my last brush with alchemy as an artistic medium; I began to portray imagery of resurrection utilised through various faiths and backgrounds to create a space in which one can feel an energy evocative of such a concept.
The three candles of Necromancy were utilised; red, black and white, to symbolise the life, death and eventual resurrection detailed in the ritual space. Jars containing embalming fluids from Egypt, perceived to allow life to flourish in the after life. The three nails of Christianity, and a bible, as well as my sketchbook, detailing my thought process up until the point of creation. A red Feather, as well as the ash from my previous alchemical circle in the abacus, as well as a series of bird bones from a bird much like the one nailed to the canvas in ‘Hope’. Three symbols of resurrection; The Phoenix, the Resurrection of Christ, and the Egyptian Afterlife. All focused on this concept of the trinity, brought forth through a Catalyst, a Pagan Alchemical circle; more in tune with our biological human nature, still retained from our most primitive days.
There was also another aspect to the bible in the piece. I enjoy to place bibles and sketchbooks in my work as a means of the audience interacting with the pieces, and this bible was opened to Luke 24; the day that Jesus resurrects. This is pivotal to the work, showcasing a piece of literature that almost everyone is aware of and understands adds a level of ease to the understanding of the symbols inherent in the piece. Something that more people can understand, or at least, I hope they understand. Interestingly, at one point a group of strangers asked me to explain the piece; and we all sat around it, much like a seance, and we engaged in a discussion about the piece. It felt really good to be able to talk about my work to an audience like that, but also to hear from them that they had shared some of my opinions on the work, seeing the symbolism within it, but through mutual discussion, we began to understand the differences in what we saw in the piece. The way that it evokes thoughts in people, emotions and concepts, that’s hat I wanted all along.
‘Hope’, 2014, Mixed Media
The culmination of the winter; Hope was an experiment into something deeper than previous work, focusing on an image of death and resurrection, juxtaposed against the blood stained shroud hung behind it. The piece is supposed to evoke a feeling of serenity, of respect for a religion that has provided those who were afraid, with a sense of Hope. The main issue I had when crafting it was the issue of it appearing blasphemous to others, and that people would get offended. However, it is not intended to be perceived in such a way, and luckily, as far as I could see, no-one got offended.
However, something happened on the night; as I was standing outside, there erupted a chatter amongst the crowd. Sam Worthington ran outside to let me know that someone was messing with my work. As I rushed to the piece, I saw a most peculiar sight; a man, 50’s, was drinking the wine in the glass. As he did, he was reciting the pages within the bible, and tearing the pages out of the book. I stood, for a minute or two to observe the situation, before descending on him and getting him the hell out of there. After he left, I came back to the piece and sat there; observing the piece and ruminating on what had happened at that point. The fact that something I had created could evoke such a reaction in someone, could spark a thought process or action as powerful as this? It is fascinating, truly fascinating. I do not know who this man was, and I have not seen him since, but like a tide that comes and goes, he appeared and affected the course of the piece.
The shroud, much like the shroud of Turin, is what gives the piece a lot of it’s depth. It is dark, brutal even, but holds the image of that which was resurrected. It is an accessory to worship.
Overall, the pieces in the exhibition were a success. Unfortunately, I do not have any images of the final piece of the trinity; which I titled ‘Icarus’; a piece that grew to become a monument to failure, the original idea was to suspend the birds from the branches of a tree just outside of the Abacus. Unfortunately, we did not have a ladder large enough, and so I decided to hang them from the barrier upstairs and down upon the front of the Abacus’ entrance. They hung like a wall of wool and wood, birds caught in the middle of their flight by a complex web of knots. However, there is an interesting paradox here; the imagery of the birds as being tangled is inherent, but there is also a level of reality to the piece, they are suspended by the very things that ensnare them. If it wasn’t for the wool, they would be lumps of wood upon the floor. Trapped within the mortal coil, there is a necessity for escape, and this piece was the ‘Life’ aspect of the trinity. The altar was the ‘Death’, and the Alchemical circle was the ‘Resurrection.’ This idea of a prevalent theme throughout a series of works within an exhibition is something that really fascinates me, and something I hope to work on again in the future.