In The Cradle Gouache and water colour on paper 30 x 42 cm 2015
This new work on paper plays with the idea of the 'cradle of civilisation' which historically refers to the fertile crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers where first civilisations appeared around 6,000 years ago. But, the 'cradle of civilisation' can be interpreted in other ways. One of these is to think about the human mind as a cradle...after all civilisation was determined by humankind's abilities to invent practical tools and systems, as well as aesthetic, intellectual and social ways of being. To be civilised connotes many nuanced and sophisticated creative, intellectual, spiritual behaviours, processes, imaginings.
So, my painting In The Cradle could be read as some kind of aerial map of river systems or it could be a kind of mind map. The branching tree line-work not only gives the impression of water systems, but also synapses in the human brain. As regular readers will recognise, the tree-shape references my much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life and all that it means to humanity's past, present and hopefully into the future.
The three red dots are referential points or symbols of humanity. One dot is embraced within the branching tree-river-synapse. Another red dot is cradled by the arching line and the last dot sits at the end of this line. I see this as marking points on a trajectory...a trajectory for humanity. The last red dot sits outside the cradle of civilisation or even life, as if it is about to launch to something beyond. This could represent a post-human future where the cradle is no longer needed, where the signs of life, represented by the tree, are also no longer needed. Maybe this is heralding the transhuman future where humans and machines merge? I wonder what part, if anything, of the tree as a symbol of life, will remain?
The red dot at the end of the arching line does appear to have a choice though. It could continue on a trajectory that loses sight of the tree. Or, it could swing back and rejoin...obviously changed by its trajectory, but still connected to something familiar.
Regular readers will also recognise that In The Cradle is another of my cosmic landscapes. Yes, a landscape, but one untethered from Earth-bound horizons, thus taking in the universe as our vast environment. By doing this, the cosmological perspective is offered as a way of viewing humanity and its future.