The Studio Desk: Feb 25 2013

25 February 2013


Currently I’m giving my subconscious free-range to expunge several cracks lurking in my brain. The Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-2011 opened wide gaps in my home, and in my life. The cracks in my home have all been nicely plastered and painted in Spanish Cream and Gothic Blue. Now it’s time to fill up the ones in my soul – and I think I’ll fill them with paintings that require some tender care and a steady hand. I gilded and burnished the first one on the 22nd of February – two years after I was thrown to the floor and forced to crawl in complete submission to the power of our wonderful Earth. They’ll be a series of small oil and tempera squares, with 23.5 carat burnished gold on carved gesso. I have designed five – but I think I’ll just keep making them until the cracks go away….


G. Barnes, 2013, ‘Christcracks Series’ [Mixed Media Computer Study]. Collection of the Artist.


Virgin of the Sign

Coveliers, Elisabeth, 1980. Virgin Orans (Virgin of the Sign) [gold and tempera on board]. Benedictines of the Priory “Regina Pacis”, Belgium.

I’m painting (writing) the icon of the Mother of God of the Sign – a popular image in the Russian Orthodox Church. In this image the Theotokos (bearer of God) is facing the viewer directly, with her arms raised in the orans position. She has a circle over her womb where Christ sits with His arms raised – in an interesting direct replication of His Mother. It is the moment of INCARNATION. This type of icon is also called the Platytéra, which in Greek means literally wider or more spacious.

It is our Mother on Earth, who contains within Her womb – the Creator of the Universe – Him whom even the Heavens cannot contain.

A sacred icon is a relationship between three – The Divinity represented, the Artist painting it, and the Witness who will look upon it.

Figure 1. Artist Sr. Elisabeth and guest. Retrieved from, Belgium.

Figure 1. Artist Sr. Elisabeth and guest. Retrieved from

What it is for me – is an engagement with the Divine, and an opportuntity to be a mediator for one or two witnesses. It will also be for me, a stepping stone into a ‘sequence’ of original works…. yet to be conceived. But some of the possibilities and ideas I am pursuing are:

1. There is a frequency of female divinity figures with outstretched arms throughout history – from the very early beginnings in Uruk with Inanna, to the Egyptian goddess Nut –

Thou art seated on thy throne, thou risest up in the sky, illumining thy mother [Nut], thou art seated on thy throne as the king of the gods. [Thy] mother Nut stretcheth out her hands, and performeth an act of homage to thee. (Wallis Budge, 1913, p. 339)

She appears in art from Aboriginal to Indian (see below). Is this a pattern of understanding throughout humanity? What do the raised arms mean? The position of such vulnerability as She lifts her arms and willingly exposes her pregnant belly represents a surrender that is unparalleled.


Barnes, G., 2010. ‘Mandorla Icon & Tree of Life.’ Private Collection.

2. Examine the sacred geometry of this Icon, and also in relation to astronomy. For instance – it contains two circles that are about to become a mandorla – on the verge of meeting. A mandorla is an ancient symbol of two circles coming together, overlapping one another, symbolizing the interactions and interdependence of opposing worlds and forces. Where they meet is a place of transformation. In astronomy – a solar eclipse creates a mandorla pattern.  Another circular motif is the figure of two circles in a pattern of eight – it’s a symbol of cosmic equilibrium. I’ll have a little peek at some Islamic geometry and mathematics for more enlightenment there…

3. A Trinity of Three Acts – I want to understand the Incarnation and it’s place in our earth-time. In film-making we use the narrative structure of Three Acts – Beginning, Middle and End – with Escalation, Mid-Points, Turning Points, Resolutions and Consequences. Very few good stories deviate from this principle. I can see the ‘Death of God’ as the final Turning Point in Act Two? What I wonder will be Act Three….??

A Circle. Hands. 2.43pm. A Veil. Black Sun. Blood Moon. 

aboriginal-art sho sculptureinanna Life-FWIXIR169071Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 8.50.42 AMSevenfold SoulAboriginal biguncleFrom Rome CatacombsYIRAWALAUgarit Lady 1800 BC

Sample of Orans Figures, retrieved from


Wallis Budge, E. A. (1913), The papyrus of Ani: A Reproduction in Facsimile, Volume 2.


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