Gold & Gems

This new series is based on contemplation about what we consider to be precious, valuable and important.

The poem 'The Bright Field' by RS Thomas was shared with me a long time ago and really began this reverie. The gold in the paintings represents our inherent dignity, what cannot be tarnished in us and that which we must live up to.

I have seen the sun break through to illuminate a small field for a while, and gone my way and forgotten it. But that was the pearl of great price, the one field that had treasure in it. I realize now that I must give all that I have to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after an imagined past. It is the turning aside like Moses to the miracle of the lit bush, to a brightness that seemed as transitory as your youth once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

I picked out colours, sapphire blues, emeralds and rich ruby reds that would make the paintings look like jewels in a home. Flashes of opulence but I want to rethink what that means. What does it mean to be rich now, what should we aspire to? What in the last moments do we consider most important?

I was read the open ‘The Invitation’ by Oriah at a party a few months ago and fell in love with it.

It doesn’t interest me

what you do for a living.

I want to know

what you ache for

and if you dare to dream

of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me

how old you are.

I want to know

if you will risk

looking like a fool

for love

for your dream

for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me

what planets are

squaring your moon...

I want to know

if you have touched

the centre of your own sorrow

if you have been opened

by life’s betrayals

or have become shrivelled and closed

from fear of further pain.

I want to know

if you can sit with pain

mine or your own

without moving to hide it

or fade it

or fix it.

I want to know

if you can be with joy

mine or your own

if you can dance with wildness

and let the ecstasy fill you

to the tips of your fingers and toes

without cautioning us

to be careful

to be realistic

to remember the limitations

of being human.

It doesn’t interest me

if the story you are telling me

is true.

I want to know if you can

disappoint another

to be true to yourself.

If you can bear

the accusation of betrayal

and not betray your own soul.

If you can be faithless

and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty

even when it is not pretty

every day.

And if you can source your own life

from its presence.

I want to know

if you can live with failure

yours and mine

and still stand at the edge of the lake

and shout to the silver of the full moon,

“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me

to know where you live

or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up

after the night of grief and despair

weary and bruised to the bone

and do what needs to be done

to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me

who you know

or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand

in the centre of the fire

with me

and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me

where or what or with whom

you have studied.

I want to know

what sustains you

from the inside

when all else falls away.

I want to know

if you can be alone

with yourself

and if you truly like

the company you keep

in the empty moments.

I have loved this John O’Donoghue poem, ‘For Longing,’ for years now. It has been this sort of guiding star.

Blessed be the longing that brought you here

And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire

That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease

To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging—in love, creativity, and friendship—

Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.

May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.

May your mind inhabit life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.

May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.

I started the series weeks before we went into lockdown but have completed it in the last few days.

I hope this is a time we will look back on as the moment we corrected our course and changed what we considered precious and valuable.

I also reference a William Blake poem ‘Auguries of Innocence’

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Find my work here: 

The Old Bank Vault Gallery 
283 Hackney Road, Hackney, London
E2 8NA

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