Tuesday, 28 September 2010
A bit about October's new work
One thing that often fascinates me is the relationship between faith (and also organised religion) and science. During the Islamic enlightenment there was a symbiosis of the two. They complimented and supported each other.
Why is this not the case in the west, historically or in the present day? A major contributing factor has to be the collapse of the Roman Empire and the onset of the Dark Ages in Europe when some (not all) in power within the church fought to hold on to that power and the security that it brought. During the Renaissance, much of the established church brutally opposed anything that threatened it. It may have been the discovery of a solar-centric rather than Earth-centric creation first proposed by Copernicus and then Galileo, or pursuing medical knowledge of the human condition via dissection by Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo for example.
Then came both the Industrial and Science Revolutions with science now in a position to improve our lives. Until then, organised religion had taught us that after the loss of Paradise everything was going down hill. Science could now begin to answer the difficult questions and could ultimately aim to put the superstition of religion out of its misery.
So now that the boot is on the other foot why should we be surprised that some scientists have taken a viciously atheistic stance against religion. It doesn't help that a small minority of my coreligionists still sometimes seen to be as closed minded in their way as those who say "there is no life after death...end of story". That said, I still recall two talks given to us in fifth year at high school as part of the Religious Education program by two science teachers. One, a physicist, was a confirmed atheist, the other was a chemist and a committed Christian.
Where is all this leading (my rambling I mean...not the conflict of religion versus science)? Well, it explains the increasing alchemical references and symbolism in work such as "Seven signs" or "Words with a prophet". It is something that I have touched on before with the incorporation of such phrases as "reason or revelation" and "the world of the philosopher or the world of the mystic" in other recent work.
Jerusalem still underpins it all for me though as evidenced by the ceramic tile from "Stone crazy" shown above. You'll see the Arabic writing on the tile and you might wonder what the word is. Look again. Read it from left to right as stylised English letters (not right to left as in Arabic) and you'll see I have designed it as a Hebrew word written in English but in an Arabic style. As Rolf Harris (famous Aussie entertainer and "live" painter on TV in the UK) used to say, "can you tell what it is yet?"
Answers on a postcard to..................