Welcome!

Exploring the Ancient Kemetic world today through ideas, thoughts, art and experiences

Monday, 6 April 2015

Trip To Ballarat Art Gallery Part 2

The author captured in the glass reflection of a work that forms the inspiration for a forthcoming painting
Radicals, Slayers and Villains
After enjoying the Eikon exhibit, I explored the rest of the gallery, including a fascinating exhibition of woodcuts, etchings and engravings called "Radicals, Slayers and Villains".

Featuring extraordinary prints from the Baillieu Library of the University of Melbourne, I was in for an unexpected surprise of themes dealing with the esoteric, macabre and dark. (Melbourne Uni library - who would have thought???)

I loved the range of ideas about death, Satan, hell, and suffering that this exhibition engendered. The liberal display of nudity (perhaps the notion of nude = evil?), other worldly beings and deities had me as engaged as the previous exhibit, but in a different way.

The following images are my personal highlights from this exhibition:

"Lycaon" by Agostino Musi 
An engraving from 1524, "Lycaon" shows the werewolf king of Arcadia about to attack Zeus!


"Eve" by Eric Gill
The sensuality of this silhouette is stunning. In many ways a simple, uncomplicated image, but it says so much. It is a wood engraving, and a brief read of Mr. Gill's background makes me think he would have been fun to meet.


"The raising of Lazarus" by Rembrandt van Rijn
This is an etching and engraving from 1632, and features my fave theme of non-death and physical resurrection. I wonder what happened after Lazarus awoke and what stories he told having been dead for so many days?

"Satan" by Lionel Lindsay
This 1922 wood engraving by Aussie artist Lionel Lindsay is quite likely what we Australians call "taking the piss" out of the Christian parable of sheep and goats where goats = the devil.

"La tentation de Saint Antoine" by Erik Desmazierres
"The temptation of St. Anthony" (St. Anthony of Egypt or St. Anthony the Great) is a complex and intriguing etching and aquatint. The Moroccan French Desmazierres has created a mutli faceted hell where all kinds of demons and torture abound. I have included a detail from it below. The figure below did remind me of a certain Netjer . . . . 

"La tentation de Saint Antoine" detail

Other parts of the gallery
I include below, sans commentary, other works that captured my eye as we wandered through the impressive gallery:

"Ajax and Cassandra" by Solomon J Solomon
oil on canvas (1886)
"Beneath the arena" by Karl Theodor von Piloty
oil on canvas (1860 - 1880)

"Wake up to the stink" by ELK
spray enamel on board (2009)

"Henry F Stone and his Durham ox" by Thomas Flintoff
oil on canvas (1887)

"Tracks" by Stanislaus Rapotec
oil on composition board 1956

The 8 + 1 painting
I wouldn't finish this post without mentioning the drawing - a mezzotint in fact -that inspired me so. I drew the sketches to interpret this as a painting whilst on the plane over to the US.

The piece is called "Satan presiding at the Infernal Council" and it is a delight to behold. John Martin was famous for implying enormous scale through his grand architectural renderings. Let's hope my homage to this piece can do it justice!

"Satan presiding at the Infernal Council" by John Martin
mezzotint 1827


Friday, 20 March 2015

Milestone

Yesterday a new milestone in my painting career was reached: I had 5 of my paintings professionally photographed.

The difference this makes to how they are presented on the internet (which is currently my primary means of showing my work) is incredible.

This is the first step in getting all of my work professionally photographed for 2 upcoming exhibitions: the first one, which I am hoping to have in November or December this year here in Melbourne, and the second next year or thereabouts in the United States with Ptahmassu Nofra-Ua'a.


"The Ark Of Millions" is the first to be (re)featured. The brilliance of the colours is much more apparent, even though the gold boat and shrine can not convey the metallic paint as well as in real life. The original post at time of completing the work last year can be found here.

I will post one each of the 5 per week so you can see for yourselves, and by that time my latest work "Material Immortality" should be ready. I ask that you link back to this page when sharing the photos which you are most welcome to do.

Thanks to Christopher Sanders Photography for his great efforts.

The Ark Of Millions
48" x 72"
Acrylic on canvas
(2014)

Monday, 16 March 2015

Eye Of The Bennu



I came across this wonderful film made with shadow puppets and papyrus screens before I left for my trip to the US. I find "Eye Of The Bennu" by Solar Falcon Productions delightful, and wanted to meet the film maker and creator Paul Madariaga when I was in LA - changes to my schedule prevented that happening however.


The film is a great example of Kemeticism manifesting today, and I would have loved to have discussed this in depth with the creator. The story is set in an Ancient Egyptian fantasy world and uses Kemetic themes and concepts to tell a story essentially about overthrowing the forces of Apep. The story could come from one of the ancient manuscripts, except that this version of Luxor comes complete with a monorail (I love that!)


Described as "a classic heroes journey filmed in the style of shadow puppetry behind papyrus" it tells the story of the jackal Aketnu who is caught up in the kingdom's struggle to manifest the Neter Ra through the pharaoh, before their enemies - the Hyksos - can do the same with the evil serpent Apep.

The papyrus background is used effectively as a screen for the shadow puppets to present on, as well as being a scroll with  hieroglyphs atop and at the sides as the story unfolds.

There are wonderful and inspiring images that turned me on as an artist - such as the Set like figures, winged Set figures (amongst others) and a beautiful colorful Khepera.

video

The film is the winner of Best Action Film and Best Sound Design at the 2013 PollyGrind Film Festival in Las Vegas, NV. You can download or rent a copy by following this link. The video above is a trailer of the film.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Wendover: A Doorway To My Heart

The Bonneville salt flats in Utah; Ptahmassu can be seen in foreground

As part of my recent trip to the United States I visited Ptahmassu and his partner  in the north western corner of Nevada on the Utah border. The town is called Wendover, and the landscape there is breathtaking to the point that words really can not do it justice.

Perhaps my paintings will then. 3 have been inspred by this place, and the fire to produce them is raging inside me.

I have not yet written about my trip to the US in great detail, and do not know if I will, as the paintings that are being produced from that trip will speak volumes. However, Wendover was so magickal, and Ptahmassu has captured that magick in his latest poem so succinctly, that I wanted to share it here. I could not write better about that place myself and I will do my best to convey this in the aforementioned forthcoming paintings.


A Doorway To My Heart

by Ptahmassu Nofra-U'aa
Natural cave-like formations in West Wendover, Nevada/ Photo by the author


Alone in a desert land
Not abandoned
Not left for dead
Yet finding solitude
In a barren land

Tucked high in the bosom
Of ruddy cliffs
Piercing the flank
Of a turquoise sky
Cloudless
The sky drifts by
My eyes
Drinking, drinking
Drinking deeply
Of the turquoise fountain
Flowing above my head

Security waits
Even in lonely valleys
Where rams rut
And bleached bones
Tell a tale of life's fragile struggle

I find a purpose
For life to continue
Far outside the temporary veil
Of mortal existence

This is a doorway to my heart
Worn into the ancient rock
Where my ancient memories
Wait
Clad in the ages
Of lives lived before
This body came into
My mother's womb

My real mother is above
Stretched out in Her turquoise body
Kissed by the shards of sharp sunlight
Tumbling down
Over the empty landscape

There is a doorway to my heart
Where one finds a portal
Into the spectral world
A ladder to heaven
The doors of the sky
Sheltered by monoliths
Raising the hot earth
Skyward
Up and into the etheric vastness

You cannot help
But make pilgrimage here
To the place where my heart
Has hallowed a shrine
To the near-forgotten Gods
But Their voices linger
Here where the one gives way
To the Ones who went before him
Their spirit lights
Calling down lightning
Given from a bare sky

Heaven calls from above
Earth makes love to my feet
And open up
Before me
At the doorway to my heart

I leave behind
All I thought I knew
And give way to
The company of spirits
Who, in silence, bestow
The Wisdom of millions of years

My real father is below
My feet firm planted
In his sacral history
His battles
His deaths
His resurrection
I gather up his bones
And call him to my counsel
At the doorway to my heart
Where the Ancestors
Make quiet pilgrimage
To speak without language
To initiate without action

Gratefully I receive
The spectral lights
Emerging from darkness
Where every seed grows
Before it flourishes
In the Light

And I too came from darkness
Into the world of light
From between my sacred mother's thighs
Like the sun
In the rosy mantle
Of the dawn sky 
Renewed beyond death

If you travel here
To meet me
You must give up
All that you thought you knew
To enter the sacred portal
Burrowed deep
In the desert shrine
Where the Ancestors
traverse
To make communion
With their kin

Hear the drum
The awesome heights
Of my heart
Secreted in the ruddy mountains
Where a trail of light
Moves like quicksilver
Through a lens of spirit
Cutting through flesh

This is where I meet you
Again
This is where
You pick up the pieces
And love again
This is where
We begin again
Here at the doorway to my heart


Ptahmassu's poetry blog is here.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Trip to Ballarat Art Gallery Part 1

I took a trip to Ballarat (a city located 1.5 hours outside of Melbourne) a week before my recent trip to the United States to catch the last day of an exhibition called "Eikon: Icons of The Orthodox Christian World".

I wanted to document it here so that it did not get lost amongst the enormity that my US trip became. Besides providing much inspiration for future work, I was surprised to find other points of inspiration within the vastness of this rather spectacular gallery, one item of which is the + 1 of the 8 + 1 paintings that will form my Netjeru In America series (revealed in Part 2 of this blog).



Eikon: Icons Of The Orthodox Christian World
The practice of creating and maintaining sacred images as a means of communing with the divine is of course of great interest to me.

This exhibition featured the Greek and Russian Orthodox Christian icons from around the 9th to around the 18th century. I am particularly interested in identifying relationships between this work and that of Ancient Egypt, and that relationship does exist.

Some of the icons were beautiful, but I found many to be sombre and at times depressing.  

I display below some of the main points from the exhibition entrance plaque (and invite the reader to consider in relation to my own artworks):

  • the primary function of icons is devotional
  • they are governed by strict artistic conventions 
  • they must be 2 dimensional
  • the personages depicted must be readily identifiable
  • icons are not intended to reflect the personality of the artist "writing" them
  • they do not have to be visually pleasing
  • they do not have to introduce new concepts
  • viewers who accept these images on the images own terms will be moved by their spiritual power

I feature below four of the paintings that struck chords for me:


"The Fiery Ascent of Elijah", Russia, 17th century
Elijah is one of 3 Christian figures reported to have have escaped death, and this fascinates me more than words can convey; this icon speaks to me on a level hard to articulate.

"Mother of God Of the Burning Bush", Russia, circa 1800
An icon revealing the incarnation of Jesus, with references to Moses and the Burning Bush.

"The Dormition Of The Mother Of God", Northern Greece, 16th Century
Mary the mother of Jesus was one of the 3 that I mentioned above who in Christian lore did not die; this icon tells us that she "went to sleep", different to the Catholic story I was brought up with where she ascended (celebrated as The Assumption), but still claiming she did not die. I am particularly fascinated by the "six winged seriph" centre top, and wonder if this is in fact representative of Mary's soul anatomy beginning a transformation process? Her akh perhaps?

"The Transfiguration", Russia, 17th Century
I have considered this icon before thanks to the work and research of William Henry; does this image represent the complex knowledge of soul antomy as understood in Ancient Egypt, rendered in a work that we can comprehend?

I was also impressed by the way that this exhibition was curated. Rather than subject these images to the standard white walls of so many exhibits, the icons were displayed across rooms each with a colour that enhanced the experience of viewing. The lighting of same also showed some consideration in creating a place for contemplation.



Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Beloved Kemet, Beloved America



My trip is over.

My quest to explore the re-manifestation of Netjer / Kemeticism, in this my 5th trip to the United States, has come to an end.

My journey took me from New York, to San Francisco (layover) to New Jersey (short stop to NY because of snow storms), to Boston, to Houston (layover), to Salt Lake City (layover), West Wendover, San Jose and ultimately back to Los Angeles for the flight back to Melbourne.

I have visited some of the best collections of Egyptian antiquities outside of Egypt itself. I have seen art that heretofore I knew only from books – my trip rendering me standing before some of the all time greats like Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Braque, Klimt . . . so many more.

I met some of the very peoples that are instrumental in playing their part in this re-manifestation: Baba Heru Ankh Ra Semahj from Studio Of Ptah in New York – who gifted me with an exquisite ring of Heru; Ptahmassu Nofra U’aa who now resides in the top corner of Nevada in a landscape as breathtaking and very similar to Kemet itself! Richard Reidy invited me to a ritual for the Netjeret Bastet, and I finally got to meet Tamara Suida who has provided me with the hieroglyphic transcriptions for many of my paintings.

I was given this ring by Master Craftsman of Ptah Himself,  Baba Heru Ankh Ra Semahj from Studio Of Ptah in New York City; I wore it every day for the remainder of the trip
I felt the Netjeru Themselves as I made my way through my journey. Meh Urt seemed to usher me into the country, as if she followed me from Melbourne where I began to notice her. I had partaken in some discussions on global warming and flooding when I first got to NYC, and Baba Heru reminded me that Her name means "Great Flood".

I had my first ever experience of snow and it was significant. The freezing cold and perils of snowfall – unknown to me before this – brought challenges I had not yet faced. I tweeted about the nature of snow and who its Netjer might be, and Tamara answered that it was considered to be of Set in times when the ancients made expeditions to countries where it was prevalent. That made a lot of sense to me. And when I finally surrendered to the snow, and acknowledged Set in His role in this, the trip took on a new dimension. I had to rise to the challenge of navigating my way through the snow in New York and Boston – and OUT of New York and Boston. By not paying attention to weather alerts I could have got stuck in either city, and potentially trapped there longer than needed: it could potentially have ruined the trip.

In another part of the trip I felt the presence of Ptah in a very real, powerful way. I am understating this and staying brief, as it is connected with a moment I wish to keep private. (But you will see a reflection of that moment in one of the paintings that will be produced as a result of this trip).


Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah; it felt like I was standing in Kemet itself. A breathtaking, moving experience that punctuated the 2nd half of my journey; centre right is a flat table projection of the mountain that is the subject of "Montu Mountain" (see paintings list below)

I felt the presence of Montu in a mountain, Nekhbet and Mut as a vulture flew by, Meretseger in the silence of the Utah peaks, and all of the Netjeru in the salt flats of Bonneville. How I worshiped Ra when I arrived at Houston airport where it was warm and there was NO snow! I thanked Ra again when I got to San Jose where the weather was like a good and rare summer in Melbourne: I got to swim, sunbake, and draw under Ra’s rays, by this time many of the paintings beginning to materialise in sketch form, which is usually what happens.

I felt the presence of Sobek when I saw Him on a devotees arm as an exceptionally beautiful tattoo; I felt many Netjeru as I browsed exquisite antiquities across the country, but there was One who literally called me to Her statues each time there was a large votive statue present (usually from the reign of Amenhotep III as he made so many created!): Sekhmet. This happened at all 4 of the major museums I visited.

These breathtaking statues of Sekhmet have captured me again for the third time and every time I visit the Metropolitan Museum Of Art in New York
I want to write about all of the Netjeru I sensed or felt during those visits to the Met and Brooklyn Museums in New York, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose but it’s such a big list: Wadjet, Ausar, Auset, NebtHt, Neith, Hat-Mehit, Herishef, Banebdjedet, Khnum, Nefertum, Nut, Amon Ra, Hap, Djehuti, Khonsu – may the Netjeru that I did not mention forgive me!

Ptahmassu at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah; connecting with this man was pivotal to the trip, and has generated a forthcoming collaboration in the form of an exhibition of our work together in a city in the United States in the future

The Paintings

I have sketches for 8 + 1 paintings as a result of this trip - 8 specifically with the theme "The Netjeru in America". I list the working titles (they may change) and the city / place where the genesis of inspiration occurred (each work however will be and is influenced by other parts of the visit as is natural I think):

Inspired in New York:

  • This has all happened before and this will all happen again
  • Triple Sekhmet
  • The Netjeru in New York (a work I had begun on some time ago, based on my last trip in 2009)

Inspired in Boston and New York:

  • Dazzled by the mirror of heaven

Inspired in Wendover:

  • Risk
  • Blessed by the son of Ptah
  • Montu Mountain

Inspired in San Jose

  • Ancient gods, new world

Inspired in Melbourne, sketched on the way to LA and affirmed in San Jose

  • Infernal


The Lunar New Year has commenced, and is the sign of the Ram. Perhaps Amon himself blesses my return, and the potency of my sojourn that I carry within me?

And now the real work begins.


One of the most powerful symbols of this trip and the concept of my forthcoming series, "The Netjeru In America": the so called Cleopatra's needle in Central Park New York City; the obelisk has dedication originally from Djehutymose III and later Ramesses II and will be featured in a forthcoming painting

Saturday, 14 February 2015

A Kemetic Ritual for the Goddess Bastet

I was fortunate enough to attend a temple ritual dedicated to the Goddess Bastet whilst attending Pantheacon 2015.



Held in one of the Doubletree Hotel suites where the convention is located, the ritual was conducted by Richard Reidy and participants of the Kemetic Temple of San Jose, The Temple of Ra in San Francisco, the Kemetic Temple of Sacramento, and the Per Akhet Kemetic Temple of Colorado.

The ceremony lasted around 45 minutes and featured some beautiful words and epithets of Bastet that I hadn't heard before. Those that were attending as guests like myself were able to join in the ceremony with various recitations and prayers.




After, the offerings were reverted and we had a mini feast of sorts. It was festive, fun and sacred all at once.


Beautiful Bastet with the ankh offering, and an offering of Maat

This was my first attendance of a group Kemetic ritual and it really was great being in attendance.