Saturday, 20 June 2009

A Birthday Commission

Now and then I get a request for a commission. Since I love telling stories I jump at the chance to do something for a particular person.
This one, just finished, was commissioned for the 50th birthday of a doctor. He practices western medicine but was born, raised and trained in Taiwan. Therefore the imagery used is a mix of western and Chinese symbolism.

The picture shows a crane sitting atop a staff. Two snakes are entwined around the staff. The crane is holding a lotus flower whilst clouds swirl around a lantern.

The winged staff with the snakes is called the Cadeceus. It is the symbol of medicine and medical practitioners. In Greek mythology, Asclepius was the patron of medicine and son of Apollo. The staff represents his authority and the snakes signify renewal as they are able to shed their skins. The ‘L’ on the staff is the roman numeral for 50 – the doctor’s age.

On top of the staff sits a Crane. It is one of the most favoured of all Chinese bird symbols. It’s the symbol for longevity as well as representing health, and happiness. The crane is holding a lotus flower, which symbolizes longevity and purity. Interestingly every part of the lotus plant, from roots to petals, can be used for food or medicine.

The clouds symbolize wisdom and nobility whilst the lantern is life giving, a beacon that provides, safety and hope.

The Chinese characters at the lower right are the Doctor’s name and title whilst those on the left say, ‘Happy Birthday!’ Also, hidden in the clouds is the doctor’s Chinese nickname.

I am always interested in taking on new and exciting projects like the one above, so get in touch and lets see what we can come up with.

Monday, 15 June 2009


In the beginning there was, well, an awful lot of cloud and ether. The clouds swirled and mixed creating a potent brew of life forms. Out of this biological stew came all kinds of beasts - veggie beasts, pesky beasts, spikey beasts, watery beasts to name but a few.  Some good, some bad, some indifferent to what was going on around them, but all essential to the creative process.

This silk paper cut says more about what's going on in my head than any religious idea of creation. I like the idea of an internal energy constantly churning, never settling. An energy full of anomalies that take the form of a variety of physical forms. Stories give structure to all this, so use your imagination, take a close look and make your own.   

This new piece has been hanging around the studio for a few weeks. Then one day the sun shone and so I hung it and was wowed by the shadows and transparency of the silk. There are two layers of silk paper that hang loosely together. With the light flooding through and gentle breezes moving of the work, it creates an ever changing glimpse into some uncharted cloud or forest. 

Those bugs fascinate me with their minute perfection, coloured bodies, scratchiness and how they can be found in every nook and cranny you dare to look.

These pictures in low light clearly show the intertwined imagery of the different layers of silk paper.