THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS Oil Paint on Paper, 36 cm x 51 cm, (unframed size) 2018, private collection
The Garden of Earthly Delights was inspired by the Chelsea Arts Club 2018 summer show titled ‘Chelsea: Garden of Earthly Delights’. The painting pays homage to the epic triptych painting of the same name, by the Dutch 15/16th century painter Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1495–1505).
Like Bosch's triptych which has been endlessly interpreted, this artwork considers concerns of late Medieval Europe such as the Last Judgment, original sin, and death. Bizarre Boschian images give loaded meaning and a sense of fantasy and play. The unicorn depicted, symbolized Christianity, immortality, wisdom, lovers, and marriage in the Middle Ages. The strawberry, sacred to the Virgin Mary, symbolized spiritual purity, perfection and righteousness. (Medieval stonemasons carved strawberry designs on altars and around the tops of pillars in churches and cathedrals).
The painting's structure of 28 (a perfect number) circles creates a sense of balanced narrative. Each circle a moment in time snatched from the original artwork. The circles reference film storyboard and are a nod to Lucy Ash’s group of paintings commonly known as the Calendar Paintings. They overlay a patchwork of thick textured oil paint that gives the artwork contrast, light and dark, colour and depth. This richness suggests a work concerned with morality and a message: if we indulge in earthly delights and physical pleasures, over time this will lead to our eternal suffering.