Friday, 16 July 2021

King Ameny Qemau, A Lost Pyramid, And A Painting

The Lost Pyramid Documentary And A Forgotten Princess Of Egypt's 1st Intermediate Period

I watched the Lost Pyramid documentary for the 2nd time on a recent trip to Adelaide. 

My sister Annie Chris records all things Ancient Egypt from the TV for whenever I come to visit. Though I had seen the show before, I watched it again as it is well made and presented, and the original viewing inspired a painting.

The show investigates the recent discovery of a new pyramid that belonged to the early Middle Kingdom, circa 3800 years ago, Dynasty 13. It appears to belong to Princess Hatshepsut. Her name gives us an interesting clue that this name was a thing before the better-known Pharaoh Queen who came later in the 18th dynasty.

Dr. Charles Muses: Discoverer Of The Pyramid Of King Ameny Qemau In 1958

A mentor of mine, Dr. Charles Muses, is indirectly associated with this find, and I wanted to point this out in my blog. Dr. Muses was an Egyptologist - among many other things - and discovered the pyramid that belongs to what is thought to be the father of the documentary princess, King Ameny Qemau. The pyramid was discovered in 1957 but not excavated until 1968. (The Wiki suggests why and I will let the reader figure that out).

Ameny Qemau is a little-known king and Muses’ findings helped shed some light on 13th dynasty succession as well as pyramid building in general. 

Dr. Muses had a deep fascination and understanding of Ancient Egyptian soul anatomy and was creator of the LionPath, a subject I have written about in the blog earlier. 

Something about seeing the princess's coffin made me have an unusual dream that night after I first saw the documentary.  

Ootheca Encasings For Mr And Mrs Smith

Acrylic on wood panel

50cm x 40cm

October 2020

This painting is a representation of that dream.

The scene takes place in a subterranean chamber below a cemetery that is part of a shopping centre complex. The "Westfield" cue is a prompting that cleverly lets me know I am involved with a Duat scenario.

The couple is being shown two pods for them to continue their metamorphosis in. These encasings were soft and pliable as evidenced by the demonstration my ka form is giving Mr and Mrs Smith (not their real names). 

I have called them ootheca encasings after the foam cases that praying mantis's make to lay their eggs in: they harden and seal once the eggs are inside. The Netjer Abyt was a considerable focus for my spiritual life and paintings last year, and He is depicted in tihs work too.

The room is presided over by Ptah and Khnum, whilst the process undertaken is blessed / sanctioned by Set, Abyt and Djehuti.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Kemetery virtual reveal

My live feed reveal of new painting Kemetery last night had worldwide viewers between You Tube and Instagram. It was a fun event to do and I have included the link to the Vimeo version here.

If you go to my Vimeo channel you will find other vids related to my work too. Subscribe so you can keep in the loop.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

The Majestic Medu - Why I Include Them In My Art And What They Mean To Me

I want to discuss my use of hieroglyphs in my paintings, the sacred writing (the medu) that was used in Ancient Kemet, and how their importance in my life as an artist and seeker of the mystical has grown significantly in the last few years. May Djehuti guide my hand and direct my thoughts as I do this!

Note: I have deliberately used links to earlier posts from my blog archive (usually in reference to paintings that I refer to) in an attempt to get the reader to mine that archive.

The medu are a system of writing that I believe we are yet to fully understand. We can translate the mundane aspects of what they convey, but there is a hidden layer to them that I feel needs to be read shamanically in order to make true sense of what has been inscribed.
I am discussing sacred texts in this case, the writings we have found in tombs and temple walls. These were not meant for profane eyes, and as only a tiny proportion of the ancient population was able to read anyways, this likely remained the case for centuries.
This technology may mean that when we read the medu, it works in a different way to reading something in our own language. If the medu are mystically alive it may also mean that as we read them, they read us.

Djehuti detail from my 2016 painting The Netjeru In New York City

Mystical windows

I have discovered that some glyphs have properties whereupon one can look into a different world or state by meditating upon them. Sometimes it is quite clear the connection the glyphs make between me the observer and what is observed and sometimes it is not.

Logos and talismans of the gods
Some glyphs are very potent with certain Netjeru. The tyet sign is a good example. It is a knot found worn on many examples of people and Netjeru yet seems to very much be resonant of Auset, hence its nickname the Knot of Isis.
I find the rotated ka sign with a tail resonant with Nehebukau as it is only found in the spelling of His name.
The medu that make up the names of the gods and that we use to identify and in some cases distinguish from other gods are potent forces of themselves. For this reason I include them in all paintings that feature Netjer.
In the same way we use logos today, I think the medu had a head start on this. I do believe that Laird Scranton mentioned this idea in a interview recently.

Sacred and profane
I think the medu work one way when conveying data and quantifying (just like modern letters and sentences that form stock-take information for example) and another when addressing the Netjeru or sacred material.

The Kemetic palette - identifiable signs and not so identifiable
Egyptology has done a great job in identifying what most of the signs actually are, distinguished from what they represent, how they sound and what they convey.
Most signs are straight forward - we can see when we are looking at a duck or vulture for example.
But others have mystery. The most famous example is the ankh. Despite countless depictions in painting and sculpture of this sign being held in the hand like some kind of clutch purse, there are theories that range from it being a sandal strap to a penis entering a vagina.
I have found new dimensions to signs that resonate with our perceived meaning of them, as well as completely different ones that I am still trying to make sense of.
I have written here about the sign designated as Gardiner sign X8.

The sign designated Gardiner list X8

This sign has been the subject of much contemplation and meditation for me so the assertions in that article were not written lightly. It has spawned inspiration for one of my most sacred paintings, Hierophany. Can hieroglyphs also function as powerful sigils?

My painting from last year, Hierophany
Acrylic on gessoed board
70cm x 100cm
Spells and formula
Word plays and puns are abound in Kemetic writing, and some more astute observers have recognized this interplay as a type of magick. This was first bought to my attention by RA Schwaller de Lubicz in the Her Bak volumes which I read in my early twenties and have reread since.
Can we ever find the true power behind magick spells until we figure out exactly how the Kemetic language sounded? Maybe not, but its worth trying and some attempts to do so have been undertaken using Coptic as a starting point.

Decoration in Kemetic art as well my paintings
Examples abound from the archaeological record of the medu being used in decorative patterns, and it is clear that the ancients paid attention to the layout and placement of the letters so that they looked commanding in and of themselves, as well as the object they decorated or the person or deity they referenced.
I have used hieroglyphs in many ways over the years. Purely decorative (as in the lower portion of Propaganda, 2017), prayers and petitions (Winged Set, 2013, Winged Heru, 2017), actual passages from sacred texts (Zemmit, Zemit, 2019, Anger 2013), as stand alone sigils that might be passages to other realms (Hierophany, 2019, The Artist As Beloved Of Heru And Set, 2014).

Acrylic on canvas
48' x 60"

The Pyramid texts of King Pepi I and King Merynra
As I continue to delve into sacred texts, read hieroglyph decipher manuals, and meditate on these sacred tools, I feel a resonance with them that seems to connect with Netjer Themselves.

In most cases these days, whenever I paint the Netjeru I include Their name in glyphs as part of the heka I am making with the artwork. Those familiar with my paintings will note that 2 sets of pyramid text utterances have been featured across many paintings.

The text from Pepi I has been one that has fascinated me for a long time, and I use it as my Artist Statement on my website: I feel that it encapsulates what I do that strongly.

I first featured this text in a painting from 2018, Dazzled by The Mirror of Heaven. I repeated it on the entrance stelae to Magickal 142 again later in 2018, and feature it again in an upcoming work, Kemetery.

The King Merynra text known as Utterance 570 from that corpus of work has been featured in Zemit and Zemmit. I speak this utterance daily as one of the most sacred texts that has been bequeathed to us from the Kemetic civilization and one that resonates most strongly with me personally.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Miracles that may go unnoticed - a final post for the decade

As a result of falling ill earlier in December, my vacation in my hometown of Adelaide took on a different hue. I have not been as sick for as long as I remember, and it certainly knocked me off my feet. Result was that I had to slow down.

Moving at a different pace allowed me to appreciate my friends, family and my hometown more than ever (I am not usually kind about Adelaide, but I have a different* viewpoint now). The vacation, now over, was healing and therapeutic.

On the drive back yesterday I was plagued by urgent urination: I had 2 strong coffees before the 9.5 hour long trek from Melbourne to Adelaide, and as I have not been ingesting as much since getting sick a few weeks back, my body couldn't handle it.

I pissed myself a little before I got to Tailem Bend and had to endure going to a service station toilet with a patch on my light coloured shorts. To avoid this happening again, as soon as the urge hit the next few times I pulled over straight away.

As turns out, I pulled into a stop at the Pink Salt Flats in Lochiel, Victoria. I didn't even know this existed. After I used the toilet from hell there I braved the 45 degree heat to venture on to the salt flats to take this footage. It reminded me of being with Ptahmassu on the Salt Flats in West Wendover.

These pics of Ra majestically finishing His daytime journey (rather close to our planet I might add - it was a very hot day) came from the night before at Brighton Beach, South Australia.

It was an interesting decade.


*somewhat different

Sunday, 13 October 2019

David Kendall 1940 - 2019

David Robert Kendall - Australian theatre and acting great

David Kendall passed away on Sunday, August 25th 2019. He was a pioneer in Australian Theatre, particularly in Melbourne at LaMama, and was instrumental in creating drama training for actors in Adelaide, South Australia from the late 80’s. This is how I met David, and he was my acting tutor at the Centre For The Performing Arts which then was a 2 year TAFE affair. I was in the first year intake of 1986.

David created a drama course in Adelaide that was not subject to the admission criteria of universities, and thus provided an alternative to those that may not have fared well in the university environment but needed more than what the many amateur schools were providing at the time. Ironically, David was the first real intellectual that I had ever met, and my own intellectual pursuits were ignited by him in those 2 mad, exciting and ultimately life changing years at the CPA.

David was extremely passionate about acting and left an impression on me about the craft that has remained. He encouraged all of us to expand our vocabulary and to write down words we didn’t know whenever we came across them and keep a kind of dictionary. I did this and believe that because I did so at that young age that my command of a decent vocabulary has never left me.

I learned a brilliant technique of acting from David called the Laban technique (also known as "Yat") which sparked my later interests in psychology, as well as further stimulating my interest in dance and physical expression. David was the consummate teacher of this brilliant method and whenever I recall the ferocity and precision with how he taught it I am reminded how hard it would have been not to be sold on it. I am also reminded to work harder with my own artistic pursuits and not surrender until, perhaps, I can master my craft in the way that he did his.

As a lecturer he was strict, and whilst he had a sense of humor there were certain things that irritated him no end. One of my fellow students had an unfortunate habit of yawning throughout class (especially in the later afternoon sessions) and this drove him crazy.

Larry the janitor came close to extinction with his repeated interruptions at 4pm (standard knock off time for campus staff but not students) just as a student was inevitably discovering an exquisite organic moment that David was so skillfully able to draw from many of us.

My acting skills were pretty raw then and I was distracted by everything else going on in my life, so was hardly an ideal student. He tolerated my new age shenanigans at the time but tried to keep my focus on acting, steering me toward the works of Cocteau, the Australian theatre greats, and Shakespeare (our course training began with Richard III).  He encouraged my interest in Antonin Artaud and the Theatre Of Cruelty but the genre was not to be a crucial part of the curriculum of a then burgeoning small city acting course.

I asked David at some stage (in our second year?) why he chose me to be one of 20 students out of hundreds that auditioned to be accepted into the course. He replied with an honesty characteristic of him, that he did not know what I would have done had he not.

Just prior to drama school I was at a stage in my young life where still traumatized by the death of a friend a few years earlier, I found myself pursuing a career in the record industry and was disillusioned about where I was headed. 

I had begun a band (The Gay Giraffes In Dubbo) and had been in a large amateur production of Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus (where tellingly I played the Bad Angel, whose final speech at the end of the play was my audition piece that secured my place at the CPA).

I felt that a regular job was just not for me, and in all honesty I cannot say how my life would have turned out had I not been selected for the CPA. It changed me and equipped me for what was ahead, very little of which (it turns out) would be as a professional actor; but so much I learned from David equipped me for so much else of what I encountered as my life unfolded.

Whilst my acting career was short lived (most memorably a controversial play about AIDS and playing a would be rapist on the then new Australia's Most Wanted series) the skills that I gained there have continued to assist me throughout my life in multiple ways. David as gatekeeper of admissions was a Guardian of the gate that -  had it not opened for me - I don't think I would be where I am now. For this I am eternally grateful.

The last time I saw David was in Adelaide sometime in the mid 90’s. I was working on my RPL submission so that my certification would be recognized as an Advanced Diploma in Theatre (Acting), which I eventually secured. Should I have decided to turn the qualification into a degree (something I had considered but have long since abandoned) this was a step towards doing so, and David again, encouraged me in this endeavor.

Farewell David. I have said prayers in the hope that your transition into the Duat is a good one, and for gates to open for you there. If these prayers are heard I can repay, perhaps, the favour you did me all those years ago!

Afterlogue - thoughts after David's Memorial Service Sunday October 13th 2019

I was sad reflecting on the loss of such a great man, even though it's been since August that he passed, which is when I wrote the above post.

I regretted today not pursuing a traditional acting career, if only by virtue of the fact that I was reminded that I had been taught by such a legend. But those that know me know that I am not a straight forwards creature, and that I will do, in the end, exactly what I am going to do.

I was surprised and delighted to find that 5 of the students of the first intake of the CPA Acting course that I was part of in 1986 and 1987 were at the memorial service. Sitting with them had a strange resonance as I recalled how we sat next to one another in those two years of learning how to become actors at the feet of DK.

Even more delightful was that Neegalah and Robert Wuldi (who met at the course and are now married) opened the proceedings. Robert  with a traditional Ngarrindjeri song and a very poignant, very on point tribute that Neegalah penned. Afterwards I conversed with her, who commented that many of the sentiments she conveyed in her tribute were reflected again and again by the subsequent speakers paying tribute at the memorial.

Six of the members of the very first intake (1986) who attended the memorial service; from left Heidi, Neegalah, Jason, me, Rory and Robert

It reinforced for me the earlier point that I made: I am also reminded to work harder with my own artistic pursuits and not surrender until, perhaps, I can master my craft in the way that David  did his. Again I am reminded how lucky I was to have had him as a teacher and mentor.

Melbourne and Australia has lost one of its most ferocious theatre pioneers. His impact can not be overstated.

To the West, David, to the West!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

New Paintings

I have completed some new paintings in the past few weeks.

City Of Grief
City Of Grief
Acrylic on gessoed wood panel frame
40cm x 50cm
October 2018

Magickal 142
Magickal 142
Acrylic, 23 carat gold leaf, genuine platinum on canvas
40" x 60"
October 2018

Enter this place through my painting
Magickal 142
Anpu and Set with moon and sun at the gate
Either side the stelae tell the story of my soul (parts) and destiny

Oh Beautiful Lord Bes
Great Dwarf, how jubilant you are in this place
And jubilant I am, in this place where Geb rests in the hedges
And Set soars in a tree
And where Divine Nut embraces with her four pillars
Even as the 4 bulls are the pillars of protection of this place
Dua Ka Desher
Dua Mer Wer
Dua Ba Akh
Dua Hap

As my ba is nourished by the Gracious Creator Lord Ptah
So does the Holy Serpent unite and untie all of my soul
So does Sekhmet heal my body
And so do Wepwaet, Auset and NebetHt prevail

As Heru hovers so too do I, outside of time to view this place
This Magickal 142,
This birthplace of awakening.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

My interview on the Profane Egyptologist podcast

I am fortunate to have been included amongst the first guests to be featured on the newly launched Profane Egyptologist podcast.

The interview has been broadcast in 2 parts with Part 1 being a background to my artistic career, and Part 2 discussing the art in depth including specific paintings.

I love the insightful questions that Paul asked, and subsequently it has allowed me to deeply reflect on the genesis of my painting career and the elements that have brought it about. I really should have kept my answers briefer to allow him to ask more interesting stuff! I can see this podcast really taking off.

Please go to this page to see the show notes Paul has included that cover the topics we discuss. Hilariously he has put a link in there because of my mentioning that my first (and recent!) experience in snow included absolutely freezing balls as I had not brought appropriate clothing with me for a New York winter. (It was pointed out to me afterwards that the combination of underwear fabric and the jeans I was wearing created a sensation that made me feel like I had pissed myself all the time; wandering around the icebox that was New York at that time and being paranoid about having a wet patch on my crotch was not much fun I assure you).

Paul's book features one of my paintings on the cover and it is an excellent read. You can get it here.