Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bread and Honey

Stuff to inspire a new piece: vintage portrait studio card, bread bag tags, vintage Christmas light reflectors (thank you Laura Moore for gifting me these beauties!)

The coming of spring to Cape Breton requires supreme patience. It is a slow birthing process of hope. Buds fatten, vibrant green shoots burst from colourless soil to meet the ever-warming sun while the air stays cold from the breath of pack ice just off shore. We wait and are coaxed out of our winter doldrums with the sweet smell of the thawing earth.

While scouring a flea market, two years ago, I came upon this old portrait studio card. Unlike other cards I’ve collected and seen, this subject is dressed only in a toga-like shift. With her eyes cast to the heavens and her hair done up with small curls, she no doubt was meant to resemble a goddess or muse. I have been waiting to decide which Goddess’s name I would assign to her and yesterday, thinking of What Spring Brings, I have reached my decision. She is Demeter!

Demeter is the Greek Goddess of grains and earth's fertility. She is responsible for the changing seasons. Among her greatest gifts was teaching mankind the art of agriculture: sowing seeds, ploughing and harvesting. She gave mankind the ability to grow grains with which to make bread.

Bread is known to us as the “Staff of Life”. In the ancient world, grain was more valuable than money, and in Christian teachings the faithful are taught to pray, “ Give us this day our daily bread”. At communion they take the “body of Christ” which is represented by bread. When we are at peace, we ‘break bread’ together. Bread as a metaphor represents Life.

In ancient times, honey was refered to as “food of the Gods” and Priestesses who worshipped Demeter were known as ‘bees’. Honey had a value that went far beyond being a foodstuff. In many cultures it was used as a talisman and a symbol of sweetness.

In celebration of Spring and in honour of Demeter, I will combine the objects shown above with paint as a tribute to Bread and sweet it is.

In the weeks to come, I will post the painting’s progression. I hope you’ll check in.