The Studio Desk: 4 April 2013

10 April 2013

DESK 1: CHRISTCRACK SERIES exploration continues – currently, I am involved with the materials:

The Gesso Ground – Cracked and blistered or sanded and smooth? Carved and scratched or burnished like marble? I’ve added china clay and ground up egg shells to the standard whiting and rabbit skin glue mix. I have also experimented with agate burnished cracked gold on hessian and muslin, with interesting results that I am still deciding whether I like.

The gesso surface is an important part of the process in the construction of a sacred artefact. Made with sacramental matter/materials – animal (rabbit skin glue, chalk, calcium) and organic (wood, h20, clay). Transformed via mysterious alchemic processes – from millions of years as diatoms become chalk, to five minutes as rabbit skin becomes glue. It is the Base, it is the Luminous. The light is coming to the viewer from within the image, and not just reflecting off it. ‘This luminosity is vital for iconography, because the way an icon is painted should mirror the paradisiacal world that it depicts … radiant with the light of its Creator and Sustainer.’ (Hart, A; p. 130) Also, the gesso can be seen as the Created Light, while the gold mirrors the Uncreated Light.

I am also experimenting with the shape of the ‘crack’ – which include squares, torn rectangles, and circles, as well as with the layering of gesso, gold, gesso again, etc… Plus the embossing of gold and the mixing of gold with tempera as in Sue Viner‘s work. I am yet to apply colour.  See gallery:

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G. Barnes, 2013. Template Drawing 'St. Francis with Five New Zealand Birds' [graphite on paper].
G. Barnes, 2013. Template Drawing Detail ‘St. Francis with Five New Zealand Birds’ [graphite on paper].
I’m still painting (writing) the icon of the Platytéra – [the Mother on Earth who contains within Her womb the Creator of the Universe – Him whom even the Heavens cannot contain] Am thinking of a title. And also thinking of exhibiting it juxtaposed with moving image – the Apollo Titan rocket launch, for example.

I have also started an icon of St. Francis. It can’t be helped. He needs a voice.


My short film ‘The Mobile Meat Processing Unit’ is to screen in May in the Green Film Festival in Seoul, and also in MashRome in Italy. It had an outing in the Yukon two weeks ago. I watched it on a really really big massive screen in Hoyts two nights ago, with the new DCP protocol, and found myself thinking wistfully of new ideas for digital cinema – particularly derived works, using found footage…. TBC.

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