Twelve ceramic potters and artists made individual works for NEST, an exhibition at the Henry George Gallery on May 2018. On seven porcelain pots through circular drawings I explored the world set on earth as a nest. I want to return to those drawings and look again.
The shape of choice
A sleepy creature woke up while a little-tit faced a world turned upside down, suspended midair in a triangular choice, one foot was on a kappertjie, the other on a agt-dae-genees while a red trumpet waited underneath.
The Love Letter
After Johannes Vermeer’s painting – The Love Letter, 1666 – here a woman receives a Whats App from her lover, not written in words but as a single green apple. She understands its content in its context and considers the offer of one more apple.
The unsolvable equation
An iteration of birds wants to know who started it. In the space between the pelican and the bittern no answer was to be found because they overlooked the truth of the matter.
Not so long ago we found a black oystercatcher caught in a nest of tangled fishing lines. My daughter approached it gently and held the spiky bird, while my husband and I cut it free which took a long time. Long enough for us to feel the bird’s panic and pain. Freed from its prison, it limped back towards the pull of the sea. But he was no longer a stranger as he continued his search for his oyster and pearl.
The Shape of the Nest
If the world set on earth had a geometrical shape, I think it would be a circle around a center – like the dry leaves of a nest around a space where chicklings hatch. In the same way the nations circle around a strip of land at its center- the land promised to Abraham’s future descendants. Seen from above it forms the mathematical symbol for angular momentum (theta) – the force that pulls all things in a circle towards itself.
The Pelican and the Bittern,
Isaiah the prophet speaks of a dreadful day when the fury of the Lord God will be upon all nations because they have chosen sin above the only true God who is holy, pure and righteous. Even the landscape reflects their hardened hearts – streams shall be turned to pitch, the dust to brimstone, the land to burning pitch. From one generation to the next it shall lie waste and none can pass through it. The pelican and the bittern shall possess it and the owl and the raven shall live in it: and He shall stretch a line of confusion and stones of emptiness upon it. 1 )
What is this reality? Pelicans spit their catch out on dry land where it is attacked and eaten by earthly creatures. In the Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave by his angel to the apostle John to show his servants things which will shortly happen. ‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. Because you are lukewarm I will spue you out of my mouth. Because you say I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked: I counsel you to buy gold tried in fire that you may be rich; and white raiment that you may be clothed that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eyesalve that you may see.’ 2)
And what reality is hidden in the bittern? – The bittern is well known for its stance when under threat: standing still with eyes lifted up to heaven. That term is a sparsely used in the bible, only attributed to a few in the family of Abraham. Those few are linked by straight line of a promise inherited.
Lot lifted up his eyes after the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Thereafter God made a promise to Abraham that his seed would possess the land of Canaan and that he would be the father of many nations. When Abraham lifted up his eyes, he saw that land far off and he believed that promise by faith. And when God asked him to sacrifice his only son, he lifted up his eyes and saw the provision of God – a ram mercifully caught in a thicket by its horns – and he offered it to God instead of Isaac his son.
This Isaac was in a field when he lifted up his eyes and saw camels bringing his bride, Rebekah to him. His son Jacob, deceived his him in his old age when he was blind, so that he received the inherited blessing instead of Esau, his older brother. Years later Jacob wresttled the angel of the Lord and insisted that he be blessed in his own name Jacob. The Lord gave him a new name and blessed as Israel. When he crossed the river he lifted up his eyes and saw his estranged elder brother Esau. And Esau fell on Jacob’s neck and kissed him and Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the children which God had given to Jacob.
The promised seed of Abraham by whom the promise was to be fulfilled was Jesus Christ, born of the Holy Spirit of God by the virgin girl named Mary. When Jesus lifted up his eyes on his disciples, he said, ‘Blessed be the poor for yours is the kingdom of God’. 3)
1. Isaiah 34: 8-15
2. Rev 3:15-18
3. Gen 13:10, Gen 22:4, Gen 22:13, Gen 24:63, Gen 33;5, Jos 5:13, 1 Chron 21:16, Luk 6:20
The Mourning Owl and the Weeping Dragon,
I returned to those who live in the dry desert land of Isaiah’s prophecy received from God – the owl and the raven. 1]
Who is this owl? I found her again in a prophesy by the prophet Micah. 2) There she was mourning in the company of a weeping dragon. She was from Samaria, the northern kingdom of Israel. She was in covenant with her Lord but instead she chose the vain pleasures of the world above his holiness and righteousness, not even seeing his love for her. And the Lord said, I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons and a mourning as the owls for her wound has become incurable. 2] Between 735 BC to 700 BC, the king of Assyria conquered the northern kingdom and the owl and her companion the dragon were sent as captives to Babylon. And always a stranger she would be in lands not her own. 3]
I sketched the dragon on a porcelain cylinder, tall enough to fit all of his pride. Why was he weeping?
Why was she drowning in her somber mood?
The Lord, The Holy One of Israel, the creator of Israel, your King says – I make a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters. Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, it shall now spring forth. I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honor me, the dragons and the owls, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen, those I have formed for myself and they shall praise me. 4)
I then sketched her in deepest waters illuminated by light. She saw her Lord and asked him if she could feed in his ways and good pasture was given her and she fed upon all the high places with a pearl in her hand. 5)
1. Isaiah 34 : 9-11
2. Micah 1:8-9 (KJV)
4. Isaiah 43:19-21 (KJV)
5. Ezekiel 34:14