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Can places be sacred? And if they are what makes them so? The world's sacred places are familiar enough to us from pictures, film and television. What of our own? And I mean our own-not the great buildings in Gothic and Classical styles so often imposed upon us by our rulers and conquerors. I mean the places of our own sacred tradition going back beyond Modernity, Reformation and Renaissance, back beyond Christianity even-into our own remote past: the sacred places in the Dreamtime of our own origination, and the sacred landscapes within which they subsist. Places like Glastonbury and the Great Hunting Ground of Herne the Hunter(now Windsor Great Park), stone monuments such as Callanish and Stonehenge, and many other less well Known like Arbor Low and Castlerigg, landscapes studded with the monuments of pre-antiquity: Dartmoor, the Moors of West Penwith and Salisbury Plain. Yet nowhere within our land is without its little sacred places if they can only be sensed and recognized: a dancing green in industrial Wigan, a stone circle amidst council houses outside Aberdeen, or a sacred well surrounded by a modern housing estate in Kendal. Every one of us is within ten miles of a sacred site ,many of which remain hidden.


What makes them sacred? Here we are in touch with our earliest past. We see and feel the presence of those who have gone before: our own people, but speaking languages now forgotten, and which if spoken we could not now understand. What did they sense there, and what did they believe in? We cannot know. But figures and archetypes of alternative spirituality have come down to us from those times-or reawakened in the cultural imagination of later times: green men, and green women, christian saints in the shape of ancient divinities, trees of life and sacred plants, holy wells, spirits of earth and sun and moon. They still speak to us, and their language can be pictured in the observant mind and by the painter's brush.


Here in this virtual gallery are twenty-seven images of sacred places, sacred presences: icons of our own deepest and most genuine spiritual tradition, reflecting as the artist says, the mythic traditions of our own Northern European people: Germanic and Celtic, of the Isles of the Atlantic Arc, the Northern Plains and Forests. These images have resonated with our people throughout time, and they resonate today. They are ours-often overlooked, frequently neglected, submerged beneath later, incoming traditions which we have not really and fully yet made completely our own. We have neglected our own roots to our own peril. Let us not forsake the Rock from whence we were hewn, nor the Ones who gave us birth. These windows into our own collective soul remind us who we are and where we live. Descendants of divine Presence who live in this part of a sacred universe.


The subjects of these paintings comprise a vocabulary of recurring themes and develop them in a series of variations: they provide utterances which come from beneath the verbal. They strike chords within the spirit and form centres of imagination and contemplation, which is precisely what icons are intended to do.
Here we have the Green Man and the Green Woman, contemplating us from amongst the trees and plants of our own flora, located in our own sacred landscapes: Glastonbury, a clootie well, the Wild Wood. Gaia is here, earth spirit, Shekhina and divine Presence. Healing Angel, Healing Madonna, present within the healing place of a little sacred holy well. Bridget ( Brìghdhé - 'essence of God' ) descends from sun and moon at snowdrop time: her sacred season of Imbolc/Candlemas, with her gifts of healing waters, replenishment, and fire.


We are invited in to meet these emanations of ancient Albion as the Tree of Life appears to us. Here it is our tree, a sacred beech - Fàidhbhile rather then Yggdrasil- yet bearing nine orchard fruits of our own land. Birds of our own native species perch within it - again the sacred nine of Celtic and Arthurian myth. From the leaves peers the Green Man, and there shines forth a white hole in Time. Our own clouded hills enclose a wildflower meadow. Four springs issue from the roots. They remind us of Columba's great hymn of creation, Altus Prosator:-

Paradise planted here on earth: Where humankind was brought to birth
At the outset of our story: This was fashioned for our glory
Four rivers flow from out that place: Their blessings bring to all our race.
Within their midst the Tree of Life: Brings peace and love and end of strife,
Its leaves the nations heal again: Unfailing they for us remain,
Delight and joy shall be regained: Are promises for aye maintained
('Altus Prosator' Stanza 'P'-my own translation)

The four streams meet again in the far distance. Their two loops comprise the recumbent eight of eternity: We ourselves are enclosed in the nearer loop.
Within these images are our own roots, reminders of own companions along the way: the long march of our own people. Here are resting places, here are healing places, here are places of nourishment and s

ustenance. Here are the archetypal landscapes from which we have sprung- and for which we still yearn, and seek and go in quest. Here too is the life - fauna and flora - which we share and of which we are a part.
Contemplate and enjoy: we are coming home.

 

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Galleries

The Artist

Greenman Gallery

Gaia Gallery

Green Woman Gallery

Mystical Images Gallery

Trees of Life Gallery

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