These are the 5 pieces I did for Hell’s Half Acre. Our general brief was Dante’s Divine Comedy. We could take from it what we wanted. Given its strong Catholic tone I was quite keen to look at Christianity’s relationship with Islam. I was in Bethlehem and Jerusalem earlier this year and it looks like the Middle East/US/West/Terrorism/Gihad saga is going to go on for ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever so i thought this was the right time to stick my oar in (I might just have solved everything. Through oil paint. Go me). I’ve also been reading up a little on the Crusades, so these paintings are something to do with them.
Also, The Crusades were cooked up by Pope Urban II. I have been called an ‘urban’ artist, so really it was a no-brainer.
Anyway, there are 9 circles in Dante’s vision of hell, each one for various naughty deeds. The 7th Circle is for Violence but the Crusaders would have had to do a fair bit of that, so there you go, a contradiction in the church, who’d a thought. But the figures in these paintings aren’t Crusaders, they’re from a few century’s later. The Knights Hospitaller were a religious military order, originally set up to defend The Holy Land from the Muslims and later became known as the Knights of Malta to do the same job with the invading Ottomans in the 16th Century.
There’s also been a touch of Avarice (greed – 4th Circle) involved in the church over the years, hence my Golden Armada.
I called the series The Holy Smoke Quintet as a light-hearted counter to all the heavy religious business. Sounds like a jazz band. Its also a reference to the Middle East Quartet, a consortium involving the UN, Europe, US and Russia. I think they’re supposed to sort everything out.
The show opened last night and is running for the week. All the allocated time slots are full but keep an eye on the site for more details as its definitely worth coming down to see.