This is the seventh in a series of 7 paintings I have made for Methodist Conference 2016, an introduction to the series can be found here.
This series of paintings began in cool blues, it moved with growing warmth to the central image of a heart offered in love that erupted with red fire and now, in the final piece, back to blue. With the ebb and flow of warmth and colour I hope we are changed by the journey.
On the Sinai coast of Egypt, where the desert meets the sea, the waters teem with life. The coral reefs host strange and beautiful creatures. I travelled along the track north from Dahab in the back of a pick up truck, dusty and clinging tight to the hot metal. We came to a lone building by the water, it was closed and shuttered tight with an old wheel chair on its veranda. This was a medical centre by the popular diving site called the Blue Hole.
The shallow reefs mean that the sea is turquoise/white as you step into it, swimming out further the blue hole opens up. A sink hole in the reef that suddenly drops away to the depth of 100 metres. I gasped as I swam over the precipice moving from a sea bed close enough to touch to oblivion. In the centre of the circle free divers, who swim deep with one breath, anchored themselves to a floating buoy before taking their turn to plummet. The water is as clear as air but the depth of the hole is fathomless and as they swam down they disappeared into the deepest blue I’ve ever seen.
Swimming over the sinkhole I felt fear: an awe and trepidation at encountering something so much bigger than I could conceive. It didn’t feel like a safe place to be and yet I could sense the call from the depths that beckoned the divers onward.
When I take the time to sit in silence. Time enough for the depth of my own soul and the depth of God’s being to open up to each other, I get the same feeling. It’s an encounter with something unimaginably vast that teems with life unknown to me. It’s easy to mask this fear with words and clever doctrines about god but waiting in silent stillness I am swallowed up by mystery. Over millennia wise men and women have found ways that can help us to navigate these depths. If we listen to them: the mystics, the contemplatives and the deep pray-ers of an ancient tradition, we can begin to find these deeper paths.
The labyrinth stencil in this painting is one such path. It is a design that appears scratched in stone from thousands of years past and continues to enable people to pray today. Is it a labyrinth, or is it a fingerprint? Mine is different to yours, my path is different to yours. But if we heed that beckoning from the deep, dark blue, as we listen to the wisdom of those who have gone before us and who have had the courage to embark on the journey into mystery, we will find our way.
PRINTS FOR SALE
A limited edition series of A3 size high quality art prints of these are available for purchase signed by the artist. All profits from the sale of prints will go towards funding the creative at 35 Chapel Walk, Sheffield.
Prices: £30 per print or £200 for the full set of 7. This is a strictly limited edition of 25 prints for each painting.
If you are interested in purchasing prints then please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition the framed original paintings are for sale at £425 each.
All views on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Methodist Church
4 thoughts on “Holiness & Justice 7: The deeper paths”
Thank you for sharing this series of painting. I have come to appreciate you sensitivity to the theme. At first I was fighting the stencil and deep vivid colors but have come to appreciate your intuition to mute the divine to stencil while keeping human life in full color. I’m still meditating on your visual juxtaposition. Also, I deeply enjoy your notion of God as deep mystery teaming with life. Simply brilliant.
Thanks David, much appreciated.
In some ways the stencil on the watercolour grates on me but that’s the tension I was looking for – rather than just making nice pictures that are easy to view I was aiming for something that might snag uncomfortably in our heart and perhaps open up new possibilities.
Every blessing to you!
I bought one of the signed prints of “The deeper paths” at conference last week. I love the whole series and your reflections – I also bought number 2 – The beyond brought close, the mundane made strange. I’d have liked to have bought the whole set but that was outside budget! I particularly like this one because I’m a scuba diver and the blue hole at Dahab is on my bucket list of dive sites. I find God in the depths when I’m there with just my buddy and our bubbles – oh and the most amazing sights on earth! To ‘fly’ over a coral reef accompanied by sharks and rays is magnificent – the community of the reef – mind blowing – and all this creation in a place usually invisible to human eye. When I look at the surface of an ocean or sea I can only wonder at the beauty beneath. To hover over the drop off looking down into the deepening blue just gives me an adrenalin rush. My husband (and dive buddy) says I’m a depth junkie – I will need to take care diving the blue hole – that’s why so many people die there – the depths beckon. I also love labyrinths – to the extent that I’ve made a portable one! The link with the ancient and the present – the inward and returning paths – the depths of my own soul explored with God. Thanks Ric for combining two of my greatest passions in this one work of art. For me this picture defines me – I’m so grateful.
Thanks Ruth, what a remarkable comment. It’s wonderful when someone feels such a close connection to a piece.
Whenever I look at water – particularly the deep sea, it feels like the surface is a thin membrane between two worlds and I’m in awe at the wonders beneath.