LET’S GO TO THAT LAND

LETS GO TO THAT LAND

Acrylic, paper, charcoal, linen on canvas, 2022, 61 x 61 cm, the first of a series of nine paintings.

Finding the poems of Meera Bai, a 16th century hindu mystic and saint (through the Junun album, and film of the same name, by Paul Thomas Anderson, made in Jodhpur Fort in Rajasthan in 2015, by Shye Ben Tzur and Jonny Greenwood with Qawwali and other traditional musicians and singers) has brought a new dimension to my painting.

these works are about an interior landscape, a different sort of pilgrimage.

Pilgrim trails, ritual walks;
voyages in, an interior path;
imagined geographies, memory maps.
A place within a landscape that corresponds to a place within the heart.

CHALA VAHI DES (LET’S GO TO THAT LAND)
Poetry by Meera Bai
Translated by Shlomzion Kenan & Sajida Ben Tzur
Let’s go to that land, where my beloved shall be found,
If you ask ‒ I shall dye my saree in the colors of flowers.
If you ask ‒ I shall wear saffron attire.
If you ask ‒ I shall adorn my hair with pearls,
If you ask ‒ I shall leave it undone. Meera’s Lord is Krishna,
Hear me, oh King of Kings.
the series’ titles make a poem in response to Meera Bai’s poetry, and the mystic trance music of the Qawwali musicians in the 2015 album Junun.
(All music composed by Shye Ben Tzur
Arranged by Shye Ben Tzur & Jonny Greenwood, Produced by Jonny Greenwood)

List of titles as a poem –

Let’s Go To That Land
Making A Path To The Beloved
To The Field
To Gather Treasure
In The Library Of The Forest
And The Colours Of Flowers
In The Hills
If You Ask –
Where My Beloved Shall Be Found

MAKING A PATH TO THE BELOVED

Acrylic, paper, linen, oil pastel, charcoal, soluble graphite on two canvases, diptych. 2022. 80 x 120 cm.

“I’ve torn my scarf into shreds; I’m all wrapped up in a blanket.
I took off my finery of pearls and coral, and strung a garland of wildwood flowers.
With my tears, I watered the creeper of love that I planted;
Now the creeper has grown spread all over, and borne the fruit of bliss.” (Meera Bai)

This is a painting that was a puzzle for months, until I stuck the large pieces of linen onto it, which freed me up to fit it into this series, give it a subject and a reason to be finished.

TO THE FIELD

Acrylic, paper, charcoal and linen on linen canvas, 2022, 122 x 91.5 cm (48 x 36 inches).

rising on the steep deep wood /in place
falling
birds calling
in and out the tomb-court

A large piece of raw linen has been stuck onto this painting, after plenty of paint had already been applied. It might seem a bit drastic, but it was a game-changer.

 

TO GATHER TREASURE

Acrylic and paper on linen, 2022, 30 x 30 cm

this little one received its last layer from the extended brush when I was painting the series, but it had been around in my studio unfinished for a long time. Many changes of mind. Scratched into the thick paint with the point of my palette knife is “the colours of flowers”.

The treasure on my mind is the sort you might gather from a walk in the forest or on the hills, immaterial and invaluable.

 

IN THE LIBRARY OF THE FOREST

Acrylic, paper, charcoal on canvas, 2022, 61 x 61 cm

In the woods I walk in I find new chapters and internal paths every time, though usually I am walking a well known route.

It seems like the Sitka plantations at Kemback aren’t a commercial proposition now. So they stay to keep their treasure of suquestered carbon, and their dusty rows like old library stacks.

 

THE COLOURS OF FLOWERS

Acrylic, paper, gouache and water soluble crayon on canvas, 2022, 80 x 70 x 4 cm.

I painted this with quite a small stiff brush taped to a bamboo stick, left handed, which allows for not a lot of control, but also as you are standing back you can see how it looks from a bit further away as you work. This technique requires that you know when to stop, before it all turns into a muddy mess.

Again, the title comes from the Hindu mystic poetry, the line   “If you ask – I shall dye my saree in the colours of flowers”  which I responded to in a very basic way – it is summer, I have a garden full of flowers which I am very excited about as I grew them all from seed last year – but also the image of the two Rajisthani women singers performing in the Paul Thomas Anderson film documenting the recording of the album Junun. The way that the pink and green resonate together, as they sit opposite each other on the traditional colour wheel. They enhance each other and are celebratory in their mutual vibration.

 

IN THE HILLS

Acrylic, paper, charcoal on linen, 2022, 61 x 61 cm.

This painting came after a birthday walk in the Trossachs, amongst birchwoods and hilly sitka plantations, above the river Garbh Uisge, meaning Rough Water. Walking through the birches I got my pocket sketch book out and drew madly which made me feel a bit dizzy. Here there is a feeling of looming hills and promontaries, and birch trunks and the river full of rocks.

In the Hills refers to the wish of the painter to be up in the wild places, in the weather and the trees, walking and finding themself.

WHERE MY BELOVED SHALL BE FOUND

Acrylic, gouache, water soluble crayon and paper on canvas, 2022, 61 x 61 x 4 cm

Junun is music that is basically Sufi Qawwali from India, with a little help from an Israeli Sufi singer and poet, Shye Ben Tzur, and Jonny Greenwood.  On the album is a poem by Meera Bai, a 16th century Hindu mystic poet, a Bhakti saint, and the line “Let’s go to that land, where my beloved shall be found” inspired this painting. The idea is that the beloved is the god Krishna, and the saint wishes to immerse herself as his devotee.