I wanted to take a moment to share some background about my new painting Darc Ridjerul after having a conversation with my partner Cloé.
The work is part of the larger exhibition Lost Tales – Walking with Gods that will be debuting later this year at the Muswellbrook Arts Centre. I guess to talk about this specific work I need to give a quick overview on the exhibition as a whole.
Lost Tales: Walking with Gods is an exploration of the aeons old stories of Australia’s First Nation people in a completely new light. In a way these works echo the studies of Joseph Campbell or the worlds of Neil Gaiman, through the connection to the myths and legends of the Indigenous people; gods, demons and creatures and utilising these beings to tell new stories or to re-visit old stories in a way that continues to make sense of them in a contemporary light. The exhibition tells a story of a Celtic god that has come over to Australia and has found a set of standing stones in the small NSW country town of Glen Innes that mirrors stone henge. The problem is that he doesn’t remember that he is a god, he has flashes of insight, of power and visions of ceremonies. He wants to get that power back and as he slowly goes mad he begins to steal children from the local populace and performs his own ceremonies as much as he can remember. Suffice it to say he is slowly going mad.
So that’s the overview of the exhibition now into this work: Darc Ridjerul.
The first thing you notice when you look at Darc Ridjerul in the flesh is that it is large and then you notice the blood. The blood is flowing from the heads and arms of three figures and it appears to be pooled at their feet or painted the rock that they are leaning (or tied) against.
Let’s forget the blood for a moment, I want to talk about the figures. Firstly there are three of them. For me this is an echo of very particularly myths that have elements that are universal. The three sisters (Australia), the three fates or Morai (Greece) and the three god brothers Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. There are tons of these things that crop up as you delve into different lore over the world. For me they all have one thing in common, in every story or legend they draw strength when the three are together but when they are split apart they lose, evil triumphs and the world is a scary place.
In Darc Ridjerul the three figures are young boys however they look like they could be old men and this is the interesting part. Something has obviously happened to them, they are twisted and they are tormented, their faces and fixed in silent screams of pain and anger but they are still together. They are in their own way still strong.
In the overarching storyline of this work the three figures have been/ are being sacrificed by a god in his attempt to regain his power. He has captured them, tortured them and now is draining them of their blood, but he also changed them. They are becoming twisted and are growing into something more just flesh; they are becoming symbols.
Finding the standing stones recreated in this small country town in Australia was incredibly mind opening. It was like the people that had migrated here had brought that part of their old world with them, needing to re-erect in this strange new land. Needing that symbol to feel at home.
For me, it is the symbol that is important.