Twelve ceramic potters and artists made individual works for NEST, an exhibition at the Henry George Gallery in May 2018. On seven porcelain pots through circular drawings I explored the world set on earth as a nest. In this writing I want to return to these drawings, string them together and see the story they really tell.
The shape of choice
In a sunny garden a sleepy creature peeps out of a blue agapanthus while a little tit faces the world upside down, suspended midair in a triangular choice with one foot on a kappertjie, the other on a agt-dae-genees while a red trumpet waits underneath.
The Love Letter
After Johannes Vermeer’s 1666 painting by the same name, a woman receives a proposal on Whats App from her lover, not written in words but as a single emoji – a green apple. She understands the content in its context and considers the offer of one more apple.
The unsolvable equation
The news breaks loose between an iteration of birds where there is no answer to be found. In the space between the pelican and the bittern: the sea gull, egret and little tit are trying to answer ‘who started it’ instead of just facing the truth of the matter.
We found a black oystercatcher caught in the middle of tangled lines on our beach. My daughter approached it gently and held the spiky bird, while my husband and I cut it free, a peculiar task which took a very long time. Long enough for us to feel the bird’s panic and pain. Freed from its prison, he limped back towards the pull of the sea. But he was no longer a stranger, because he felt so familiar as he searched for his oyster and pearl.
The Shape of the Nest
If it was possible to give the world set on earth a geometrical shape, I think it would be a circle around a center – like a circle of dry leaves meticulously woven around a little room where chicklings hatch.
I then sketched the world on the circumference of a circle and placed the Middle East at its center.
Looking at the world in this way the Middle East becomes the diameter that keeps the circle together, while forming its own mathematical symbol for the angular momentum – theta: θ.
- Theta (th) is the first letter of Theou (Θεοῦ), Greek for “God’s”, the genitive case of Θεóς, Theos, Greek for “God”
The Pelican and the Bittern,
The prophet Isaiah sketched a nest that have turned away from the Lord 1] as a burnt impassable dry land where streams have turned to tar and dust to combustible wood. Such a world is to be possessed by the pelican and the bittern and the owl and the raven will live in it. 2]
Pelicans are known to spew out their catch on dry land where it falls prey to predators. It is similar to the parable of lukewarm deeds – the Lord says, because you are neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth for you say I am rich and have need of nothing, but know not that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. 3] It points to a world that relies on themselves and not on God.
The bittern’s posture drew my attention. It lifts up its eyes and spear-like bill towards heaven as if to challenge the Most High. Its stance is so contrary to the humility of the publican who standing far off would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but struck his breast saying, ‘God be merciful to me.’ Luke writes, I tell you this man went down to his house justified for everyone who exalts himself shall be abased and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.
Both birds reveal realities directly opposed to absolute dependence on the Creator by an emptying of themselves in Christ so that they may be established on earth. Jonathan Edwards writes, ‘It is exceedingly delightful to be humble before God and ascribe all power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor and blessing to Him.’ These realities behave like two complimentary strands of DNA twisting around each other like a husband and wife who need each other.
- Self Existent Jehovah. The Jewish national name of God, Jehovah
- Isaiah 34: 8-15, Deut 29:23
- Rev 3:15-18
The Mourning Owl and the Weeping Dragon,
It brings me to the inhabitants of the nest which are described by Isaiah as the owl and the raven who are praised for their great achievements but no longer rely on their Lord. 1] (See Pelican and Bittern cylinder)
The owl’s daughter like appearance shocked me.
I found her again in the prophet Micah’s vision. 2) 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 she chose the world instead of His ways. 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 is incurable. 2] Between 735 BC to 700 BC, the king of Assyria conquered the northern kingdom and she and her companion were sent as captives to Babylon. From there their children spread as the dust of the earth to foreign lands, but always a stranger she would be. 3]
I then sketched her dragon on a porcelain cylinder, tall enough to fit all of his pride, but when I saw him weeping I thought maybe his heart had changed,
And when I saw her praised as a wise old owl, I wondered why she was mourning
The Lord said – I will do a new thing, I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honour 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. This people I have formed for myself, and they shall praise me. 4]
I then sketched her in the deep where she cried out, ‘O Lord, let me feed in your ways’ And she was given a heart that could see and a mind that could trust and she understood that her Lord was in Christ. And her spirit was born by the waters of the Spirit of God to bear fruit that was good and her Lord again rejoiced over her for good.
I then sketched the red horse sent into the world of unbelief to take away peace from hardened hearts and blue becomes red and they cry ‘O Lord let me feed in you ways.’
1. Isaiah 34 : 9-11
2. Micah 1 (KJV)
4. Isaiah 43:19-21 (KJV)
5. Zechariah 1:11 (KJV)
The world set on the pillars of the earth is like a dry nest that hangs from a branch on a tree in a green garden.
I am convinced that the things that we see are there so that we can describe the unseen Lord our God. Imagine looking through a telescope at billions of light years away or through a electron microscope at a single atom. Imagine looking with your mind, heart and soul and seeing in the nest the unconditional love of Christ for the world by giving himself for the making of his bride, pure and infinite.