'Artists are gnostics, and practise what the priests think is long forgotten.' - Hugo Ball

Friday, 22 June 2012

Four Elements

Four Elements
© Sue Wookey
This is a painting that I've had hanging around for ages before finally posting it here. As is often the case, there are some things that are not exactly as I envisaged them so I've been fiddling with it off and on to try and bring it to the point where I thought it worked and was complete. Very unusual for me as I usually finish things very quickly! I think I've finally got there. It's easy to be too hung up with your own paintings and forget that others see them differently and bring fresh eyes. Most people seem to really like the work so I'm coming round to liking it more too. My main worry was that it was too fussy, but the four elements are a complex subject and symbolically there was a lot I wanted to say about them. And my attempts to go down a more abstract route failed when I became obsessed with feathers, the exact shape of a salmon's body and how beautiful a stag's head is when seen face on (though I think Landseer got there first...). I really get carried away with these things.

So - the Four Elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water are placed in the Four Directions they are most associated with, starting with the Hare (Earth) in the North, the Hawk (Air) in the East, the Stag (Fire) in the South and the Celtic Salmon of Wisdom (Water) in the West. I've also placed the symbols for the elements in the diagonals. Ether, or spirit, is usually placed in the centre, and here I've placed the sun/moon that I've put in several other paintings. For me it holds the Fire and Air, and the Earth and Water in balance.

The words around the painting read:

May Fire inspire and transform you
May Air purify you and set you free
May Earth uphold and sustain you
And may the blessing of Water make you wise.

- SW

Limited edition giclee prints are available from my website at Galley Hill Art.


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