Sunday, 2 April 2017

Nehebukau And The Ocean Of Reassurance



Nehebukau And The Ocean Of Reassurance
Mixed media (acrylic and moulding paste) on linen
72" x 48"


My latest painting is my first larger canvas (actually this is linen) in almost 2 years (the last was This Has All Happened Before And This Will All Happen Again).



The painting is mixed media and includes moulding paste which I have used to bring movement to the ocean. It is the first time that I have used moulding paste in a work and I am pleased with how it has turned out.




The Netjer Nehebukau descends and hovers above a beach, conveying blessings upon the hierophant. The blessings are a unifying of the hierophant's soul anatomy in a way that will take him from soul blindness to true vision. The blessing that He conveys assures not only the unification of soul parts but His divine protection also.





This photo better shows the iridescence around the hieroglyphs of blessing

This painting is the beginning of other new projects on a similar topic, including a short film that I am making and a triptych of paintings on the same theme.




Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Historic Syme Memorial At Kew Cemetery



"Reason has not much to say in favour of a future state of existence, but instinct has...... this desire and belief is as strong as the instinct of self-preservation itself. It is stronger than reason, more powerful than the evidence of sense. It withstands ridicule, contumely and persecution because it is rooted in the innermost nature of our being." 
David Syme 
(from Scores Of Symes Vol. 1 by the late Dr. Veronica Condon; the quote can also be found on the website dedicated to Sir Geoffrey Syme, her father and David's son)

David Syme (1827 - 1908) was a Scottish-Australian notable in the early history of Victoria (an Australian state) where on settling in Melbourne was to become proprietor and Managing Editor of the mighty The Age newspaper. This newspaper is still an establishment of some consideration to this day in contemporary Melbourne. The company stayed in the ownership of his family until selling to Fairfax in 1983.


David Syme
Mr. Syme had a spectacular tomb built in Kew Cemetery* that has only recently come to my attention. It is a breathtaking rendering of a Ptolemaic Temple complete with art nouveaux interpretations of essential Kemetic themes. 


Entry to the memorial from the main cemetery gates
Visible from the principle cemetery gates upon immediate entry, the tomb stands in majestic contrast to the stone urns, crosses, and Christian memorials of the immediate surroundings. It is astonishing to see such a monument so far away from Egypt, and so exquisitely rendered.

After further research, primarily from the website mentioned above by the late Dr. Condon, the inspiration for the building was indeed the Temple of Auset in Pilak (the Temple Of Isis in Philae).


The capitals from The Temple Of Auset on Pilak (Philae) island

The entrance from the other side; the gates were added after the memorial was built to prevent people walking through
Two entrances open into the monument, the floor of which has a large horizontal hatch featuring an epitaph of the names of David and Annabelle Syme with a winged disk atop. 


The door to the underground vault which lay beneath the memorial

The winged disk motif representative of Ra Heruakhte can also be found above the entrances. The epitaph seals the vault below in which are buried David and Annabelle Syme, their son Francis and daughters Gabrielle and Caroline (the latter two died in infancy). At time of writing, I have been unable to ascertain if the vault or contents within continue the Kemetic themes of the spectacular exterior and of course I am curious.




In research for writing this article I am learning a lot more about David Syme, and I am particularity interested to get a hold of his last volume, The Soul: A Study and an Argument (1903). Towards the end of his life he and wife Annabelle showed an interest in spiritualism - a very popular topic of the time it appears. But apart from the letters written to Annabelle by the architects of the tomb, Butler and Bradshaw, explaining some of the motifs incorporated into the design and references to the "Book Of The Dead", just how far the interest into Kemeticism went I can not ascertain.
These gates were added later in the building's history; the uraeai design remain true to the 136 that cap the monument and surround the interior and exterior of the cornice 

The tops of the bolts that hold the vault door intact are grasped by Khepera - a charming design addition

This scarab beetle is one design of many on the monument, fitting for the resurrection and transformation David Syme expected of the next world; this is found on the rail fixture surrounding the lower part of the building

This wonderful tiling feature can be found on all 4 corners of the inside floor of the building exterior; a beautiful rendering in art nouveaux style of the winged scarab

The cobras with sun disk on their heads surround the inner and outer cornices of the building and go in separate directions accordingly

The capitals feature a different style on each column denoting those used in pharaonic times

At the time, much of Kemeticism would have been informed largely by still new Egyptology; Theosophy was being introduced at the time in Melbourne also, but still very new. Tutankhamun's tomb discovery was still over a decade away. In light of all of this, the statement that the monument makes is bold. A circle left on the horizontal vault door suggests a vase or perhaps a statue had been present but now removed, and I wonder what this was? If it was a vase, was it sculpted in an ancient Egyptian style, or more the nouveaux look that was still flourishing as a result of the earlier Egyptomania of the 1800's?








The Syme monument is located in the Kew Cemetery* and is listed on the National Trust Heritage register. Before visiting the monument I checked that it was Ok to do so, and obtained permission to take photographs. 

I have approached this topic with reverence and respect for the Syme family and the incredible memorial that has been created to commemorate them. I would like to see the monument cleaned and maintained in a grander state of preservation with the view for it to last for eternity, as I am certain David Syme intended.

*Boorondara is the name of the locality this Eastern Melbourne suburb is located in and often the cemetery is referred to by this municipality 



Much of the information I have gleaned in my research for this blog comes from the work of Dr. Veronica Condon, the grand daughter of David Syme who has documented much of her family history
The Temple Of Auset - a remarakbly well preserved temple dating from the Ptolemaic period of Egypt's history

All of the photos in this blog were taken by the author, except the photo of David Syme and the spine of the book Scores Of Symes Vol 1. by Dr. Veronica Condon taken from her website


Monday, 6 February 2017

Montu Mountain

Montu Mountain
Acrylic, 23 carat gold leaf and lapis lazuli on linen
36" x 48"
February 2017

My latest completed painting is Montu Mountain, and it is the 5th painting in my series The Netjeru In America.

Montu Mountain
Acrylic, 23 carat gold leaf, and lapis lazuli on linen
36" x 48"
A Kemetic landscape: a mountain beset within a crimson sky wherein the Netjeru Montu and His avatar BaAkh appear. Montu bestows blessings of His Akh and Sekhem as I meditate at the mountain base below. The mountain is irradiated with the power of Ra Himself.

The painting is primarily in acrylic, but features gold leaf gilding (there are 52 sekhems, 49 akhs and 151 sun discs). The wadjet eyes at the bottom of the painting are in lapis lazuli pigment.

Montu Mountain is in the Utah desert, sitting behind the Bonneville Salt Flats looking from the town of West Wendover which sits on the Nevada side of the Nevada / Utah border.  I visited there in 2015 when I met Ptahmassu and his husband Brent, and was overcome by the landscape there that resembled the landscape of Egypt where the pharaonic civilisation flourished so long ago.

The mountain ranges behind Bonneville Salt Flats
Photo credit: Ptahmassu
The West Wendover part of my trip was a highlight; here I got to finally meet Kemetic iconographer Ptahmassu who has become a friend and supporter of my work. I also met his equally charming husband who helped make the trip smooth by driving us everywhere and organising accommodation for me.


Montu Mountain is the outcrop on the right
Ptahmassu took the photo of me below as I meditated at the bottom of the mountain, and this has been reproduced in the painting. It is he that named the rocky outcrop Montu Mountain, and I certainly resonated with this when we went there.


The original photo of me meditating at the bottom of the mountain; the photo has however been reversed - you will note that the photo features a mirror image of the painting; actually, the painting is the way we saw it from where we had parked and walked up to it, but I was siting in the opposite direction which I reversed for the painting
Photo credit: Ptahmassu

This landscape is mystical and I would love to know more about it from the perspective of the Native Peoples of America. The area is also near a military installation, supposedly carrying out secret agenda according to conspiracy theorists. The day I visited a very loud sound erupted across the otherwise silent landscape that made me think a massive machine was being powered up.



Using my projector, I began the mountainscape on the canvas with the photo I took at its base


More projector fiddling

Early black-lining
Photo credit: Kitten

Montu Mountain detail: the divine Netjer BaAkh
Avatar of Montu
Bull of Medamud, Uaset, Armant and Tod

Montu Mountain detail: being blessed by the Akh and Sekhem of the Divine Netjer Montu
Lord Of Uaset
Lord Of Eternity
Ruler of Everlastingness
Lord Of The Army
Lord of Medamud, Tod, and Armant

Montu Mountain detail: The Divine Netjer Montu

Montu Mountain detail: Wadjet Eyes
Ptahmassu and I inside aircraft relic from WWII; the area has great historical significance to WWII - a fact not lost on me as I manifest a paiting of one of Kemet's most powerful war deities
Photo credit: Brenton, Ptahmassu's husband February 2015


On completion of Montu Mountain in my studio February 5th 2017
Photo credit: Kitten

***please note that the images of my painting are taken from my Android - professional images will come later and be published on my official website Setken

Sunday, 8 January 2017

(Replicas of) The Treasures Of King Tutankhamun



I travelled to Perth at the end of last year to visit an exhibition of reproductions of the treasures of the tomb of Tutankahmun discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter. Only 5 years earlier King Tutankhamun And The Golden Age Of The Pharaohs had an extended run here in Melbourne.

The exhibition had not been widely advertised outside of that city. Melbourne is the opposite side of the continent to Perth so I had quite a way to travel - but it was worth it!

Having seen the originals of most of these pieces little less than 12 months ago, many asked why I was bothering. I was following a hunch based on some preliminary reports that I had read about the exhibition, and was curious to see how they strung everything together as an event. As turns out, a company more experienced in running concerts than museum shows were the curator and financiers of the event, and the sense of theatre that they obviously engendered in the show is what made it unique and engaging.

Newly colourised Harry Burton originals greeted us as soon as we entered the event;
featured  R to L are the Netjeru Qebsenenuf, Duamutef, Sekhmet and Geb 

The receiving room of the exhibition is filled with blow ups of Harry Burton's original photos of documentation from 1922 - with the difference that the images have been remastered and colourised. It was a treat seeing these and foretold the focus of the show leaning much toward Carter's trials and tribulations in finding and cataloguing the tomb items as much as the items themselves!

I loved this mural that features an aerial view of The Valley Of The Kings
The next room was devoted to the ancestry of the King and explaining the pharaonic civilisation from Egyptology's viewpoint. A massive mural of the Valley Of The Kings made a majestic backdrop to this area.

The screens feature Queen Tiye - the king's grandmother

We were then ushered to a room where 3 screens beamed the story of Dynasty 18 and Tutankhamun's ancestry. This was the first taste of theatrics, screens, and drama to tell the tale of events behind the objects and who they belonged to.


The next theatre told the tale of Howard Carter's life, complete with actors and how all things lead to his discovery of the tomb. The exhibition emphasised how underrated Carter is in the history of Egyptology and the enormous contribution he made to our understanding of Ancient Egypt.


The exhibit that we moved to next was the first of 3 replications of how the rooms were first found when Carter entered them. The antechamber featured primarily the chariots and beds as well as chests and other furniture that the king used during his reign.

This part of the event is unique and fascinating. The find was so well documented in Harry Burton's photos and Carter's notes that these simulations are now possible. Most of the replicas we see in these displays are again replicated in the main exhibition hall so we can see them displayed properly and not in the original (cluttered and cramped) context.








In the next part of the event we are faced with the 4 shrines that housed the sarcophagus, 3 inner coffins and ultimately the mummy of the king. Faithful reproductions of the wall paintings are also featured, including a rendition of the destroyed part of the wall (featuring the Goddess Auset) that happened as a result of accessing the rest of the chambers.

Sadly, this image of the Goddess Auset (Isis) no longer exists - it was destroyed in order to gain access to the rest of the tomb
Seeing the shrines outside of glass and up close was astonishing and breathtaking. The craftsmanship (of the original AND the replicas) are beyond words. I was fascinated to learn that much of the writing on these extraordinary "machines" has not yet been deciphered: it is believed that a deliberate encryption had been employed by the priests overseeing such matters. Click here for a short vid of the glyphs on the 1st shrine.

The bolted doors of a shrine
The rest of the hall was devoted to the canopic shrine, the statues of the Netjeru and the king that had been found inside many little wooden shrines, ushabtis, thrones and chariots of the king.

More use was made of screens and projectors above the dais' holding the replicas that gave further insight into their nature and discovery.

The exhibition successfully created an event that allowed participants a memorable experience. Being up close to each item with out a sheet of glass in between made more of a difference than I thought it would.

Tutankhamun: His Tomb And Treasures is an exhibition event staged by Semmel Concerts and Stage Events with replicas created by Dr. Mostafa Elezaby.



For more images (and videos) , please see my Instagram page.


I sketched the sarcophagus replica on my second day visit to the event; I wanted to get all the glyphs in somehow, as I intend reading these someday - a goal I move closer toward thanks to the Bob Brier taught course I am doing through The Great Courses

Ra has the last word in this post!
I took this photo on the way home from the plane - my visit to the west complete, as King Tutankhamun's journey to the West, so long ago, captures such a vivid part of my imagination