The Phenomenon of Life…it’s a mystery (or The Arrival of Venus)

It’s funny the way certain experiences have a way of staying with you. Sitting in a pub garden in Warberswick on a bright sunny day a woman just stopped in front of me, closed her eyes and took a moment. For those few seconds it felt as if she took in: the warmth of the sun, the fragrance of the sea air, the musicality of birdsong and the quiet, peaceful tranquility of this very moment in her life.  A life, she knew, was to irrevocably change and this was her moment and she was savouring it. 

The brightness threw her into a shadowy relief, the sea breeze blew her clothes to outline her shape, drawing attention to the fact that it wouldn’t be very long before she would give birth.

As an unsuspecting witness to this event, her image and my imaginative idea of what she was experiencing (afterall she could have just stopped to ease the pain in her back) stayed with me.  I did a small rough painting sketch back home and put it down in the corner of my studio – never quite forgetting about it, and never quite feeling I knew how to finish it.

Years later, looking through piles of work for examples to use in a workshop, this little moment of blissfulness and revery resurfaced. It was now or never, she wanted to come into this world and into it she finally arrived practically painting herself in an afternoon after waiting around for probably over a decade.

This painting is about life; imaginative life; real life (whatever that its); that we are all united in life; the miraculous process surrounding birth and even the life of a painting.  It reminds me, in a tenuous way, of Sandro Botticelli’s Painting: The Arrival of Venus. Steve took me to Florence specially to see this painting (it’s one of my top 10 favourites ever). It is truly magnificent to stand in front of this extremely large and beautiful image. I think it is about the arrival of so much more than just a goddess, it’s also about the people she needs who greet her, help her into this world, about the sea, the birds the natural world about the mysterious beauty and phenomenon of all life.