I started painting this one just after my friend Fiona had given me the Live Aid (1985) DVD for a Christmas. I’d forgotten how much I loved Ultravox as a teenager, and it was nice to be reunited with this old friend, especially the song Vienna. So, because I listened to this song about, oh… 7 or 8 million times while painting this hanging, unfortunately, that is the name it got!
This hanging was painted for Glen, a Director of Photography (cinematographer) for major motion pictures in Hollywood and around the world. I wanted this hanging to represent a reel of film – each shutter opening to capture something different, to capture a small section of his life. Although this is one of my smaller hangings, it is one of my most symbolic. This hanging now resides in his house in Los Angeles (Hollywood Hills), California.
The border of this hanging represents a reel of film. Film also represents movement, going forward, as well as the importance and passion for capturing the essence of things (moving or still, on film or in memory). Different colours on the border represent seeing a different colour (so to speak) every time your soul looks through the lens, and how we’re constantly changing and are not even the person we were 30 seconds ago (well, at a cellular level, more so with growth, we can look at the same thing 5 years down the road and see something different, better (hopefully) or something we once clung to and now have become free from). The same colours may come around, but with each pass, we’re different, or they are different. We are more vibrant, and thus as a reflection of ourselves, they are too. Essentially different. The essence of change. Wow… that a lot for a bunch of rectangles hey!
Top square. The seer (as in see-er, one who sees). I’ve only used this image once before on one of my earliest hangings, and it is interesting to see how much it has evolved (better, deeper, more layers). This ties into the border a great deal, in regards to how one chooses to see the world. Half full, half empty (or fully full as I say – half full of water, half full of air… just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there… sheesh!). Glancing up at whatever it is you believe moves the cosmos or having a universe of creative emergence glance upon you occasionally (yeah… she’s cute AND deep.. I know, hard to be me…). For me this is the visual that comes to mind when I think of the quote, “Give me but one firm spot on which to stand, and I will move the earth” and is thus the quintessence of this image. So, you can go deeper with this square and revel in the fact that your questions were the universal questions asked by generations of seekers and the insider status that comes with a being a part of a lineage of seekers (for whatever it is you wish to seek); or it can be the ponderance of the fact that (so says Ken Wilber) the universe is only 12 billion years and scientists consistently show that 12 billion years isn’t enough time to produce a single enzyme by chance, so something other than chance must be giving rise to the ordered universe yada yada yada. Course, it can also just be a dude staring at the sky taking a light meter reading as well. At the end of the day it is whatever the person looking at it wants to see.
Turtle: One of the most powerful images I use. A great deal of mythology exists in regards to the turtle. The turtle was an animal whose magic united heaven and earth.
The symbol of the turtle is used for patience, wisdom, skill, quiet, longevity, loyalty, peace, confidence, love, courage, spiritual protection, compassion and perseverance. The turtle represents security, solid grounding, and support. It is seen as steady, strong, wise with age, protective, and unshakable. It is a self contained creative source, representing the earth, informed decisions, planning, and adaptability. The turtle is courageous because it makes progress only when it sticks its neck out, and moves forward with patient, steady flow in order to achieve the desired results. Seemingly impervious to attack – the turtle appears a very model of settled, universal order.
I also added the turtle as a homage to travel (thus the currents under its fins). For what we have seen, and for what we still have left to see. May both be many and both never leave any of us quite the same.
Philosophers Stone – no, not from the Harry Potter novel. Ever read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho? There is an actual alchemist symbol for the philosophers stone, which pre-dates Harry Potter by at least a year or two. This square is a bit of a fusing of an ancient petroglyph image I’ve always liked (I’ve seen other people use it on t-shirts and things), along with this alchemist symbol for the Stone of Wisdom.
The alchemists (as taken from symbols.com) believed that a simple substance could be transmuted into a more precious one through the addition of an enzyme-like substance known as the lapis philosophorum, the stone of the wise, an elixir. This substance could transform other substances without itself being changed.
This square is really about Teachers. Those who have inspired us and helped us grow. Those who helped change us, without themselves being changed (well, hopefully they themselves would be changed as well, aggrandized, in a good way for their guidance and wisdom). And while a bad teacher can essentially teach you as much as a good teacher, this is for thanks to those really good teachers whom we will never forget, and are forever grateful for their guidance. For helping us become who we are, but saying everything to us, or by standing in the wings, silent, watching us get it right.
This is also the first hanging I didn’t use White in.
This gorgeous hanging occupies a space in my home where we meet head on every morning as I start my day. It’s sunny and colorful and thought provoking, each square a symbol for life and wisdom and dreaming. Wrapped in a border representing a reel of film, it’s almost as though it were made for me – Hey, it was made for me!
Thank you Mags! – Glen MacPherson -
Vienna (18″ x 44″)
January 2005 / Los Angeles, California