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

Monday, 28 February 2011

The Innermost Garden

The Innermost Garden
© Sue Wookey

Here's something a bit different from my usual work - a painting with flowers in it for the Luton Hoo Walled Garden 'Season's in a Garden' exhibit. Luton Hoo Walled Garden is a major project to restore an unusual octagonal walled garden, originally created in the 1770s. Following serious decline after WW11, it is now slowly being brought back to its former glory, while being used as a centre to inspire the creative arts with resident painters, sculptors and photographers.

I really enjoyed exhibiting there last year - where I showed my Green Man and a couple of photos - but this year I couldn't see anything in my work that was suitable for a garden theme. The, answer, of course, is to paint something special! Flowers are definitely outside my comfort zone. The formal style of Tudoresque roses even more outside it (they are pretty tricksy things and I was almost sorry I started them...). But I wanted to reflect the idea of the mystical garden (the inner Eden) that features so much in religious art and alchemical drawings. I'm not at all sure I've been that successful, although all the flowers have specific meanings, and there is a fountain and water flowing out from the centre of the painting. Never mind - I'm pleased by how the colours work together and their relation to the stylised form of the primary pattern - the sacred geometry of the Flower of Life. It looks like some exotic tiled floor or sumptuous carpet. The words around the outside read:

I am a kind word uttered and repeated
by the voice of Nature;
I am a star fallen from the blue tent
upon the green carpet.

- Song of the Flowers, Gibran