“What do you mean when you refer to the presence of a piece?”
“...I often use the term, ‘presence’ because subjects often present themselves infectiously.”
“...Often a subject presents itself out of the blue with such enthusiasm that I tremble with drive, in fear that this intensity of presence will fade. I’m guessing this can drive an artist to madness.”
Forsaken? Psalm 22
In 2017 I hit a bit of a crossroads in my way of thinking. Maybe even felt a little forsaken?
You see, I’ve always been a bit of a volunteer. I can’t help it. It’s my arm. It automatically goes up on hearing, “Can anybody help?” But I was beginning to doubt if my efforts really mattered. It seemed people didn’t want help as much as serving.
Is it really worth continuing as I do? Or should I fall in line driven by shallow trends, Facebook cruci-fictions and whiney banter. Oblivious to the little kind deed we are party to each day. And simply dismissing the purveyor like a servant!
Whilst discussing this with a friend, Paul, I asked why do we bother? He paused, then in a shrugged tone said, “It’s what we do!“
That simple little statement instantly held such clarity and reverence for me.
It’s what we do.
Then I got to thinking, I bet nobody has felt more forsaken than this guy on the cross. Yet throughout all the suffering, his message was not one of revenge, but of forgiveness.
In this gesture I have tried to capture that forgiveness amidst all that suffering. Personally reflecting either forsaken or saviour depending on personal standing.
The polished pewter head of the nail is meant to symbolise a gift of reflection. The base with its aged cross texture is meant to symbolise a gift, Scriptures, crossroads and cross. The pewter section between base and arm is meant to symbolise a holy relic of the past but bears no anatomical reference.
During the modelling of this piece, I also had for reference a photograph of a falling swans feather. This swans feather with its turned up corners held such gentle grace in its fall. And It is this gentle grace and delicate colour I have tried to capture here also.
For all you out there today who takes one for the team and is simply brushed off. You are not alone. It’s like my friend said. It’s what we do. We.
Forsaken? Psalm22. By P Wharton. 2017.
A big thank you to everyone for their kind comment in the comments book at Manchester Cathedral.
Especially Wendy from Manchester who wrote, 24/2 so reassuring to know others feel this. A very deep touching piece which gives solace even reading its meaning.
Additional reference subject matter.
The cross/crossroads/holy relic/gift/bible/swan feather/personal reflection/reverence/mannequin consumerism/Shroud/Self sacrifice/Forgiven/The left hand gesture of Mary on Michael Angelou’s pieta/And hope.
I Just wanted to thank all involved for a beautifully heartfelt moving service.
Truly inspiring. The Choir was brilliant. Well orchestrated.
Everyone’s hard work was well noted.
I would also like to thank Canon David Holgate and Canon Marcia Wall and others involved for the tremendous honour of presenting Forsaken? Psalm 22 in person during the Offertory.
A little nervy for me but I hope my sincerity was well received.
Thank you all.
And best wishes to the congregation.
Just a little insight into my process and how it relates to the world around me.
This simple little piece presented itself like an eagle eyed robin, hopping and bobbing. Eagerly spying the turn of each spade of freshly dug soil for food.
Whilst fitting oak flooring and skirting, the off cuts and botched up mitres began to mount up in the corner. And perched on the top was this simple little bird like form taking residence.
From this I modelled in wax, then cast it in pewter Bird Nesting as you see it here.
The presence of this simple little piece nestles firm in great resolve.
Almost totem like.
Weight in solid pewter 877 grams.
Lest we forget.
Stockport open. Plaster. Life-size.
“...Much of what I’m charged to create is layered far deeper than just a form. More-so, a presence. And at times, that presence can be as vast. Then I wonder how such a simple form or gesture can hold what has moved me to create it. Forming heartfelt sincerity in such a simple gesture can be a real taskmaster.”
Cenotaph came about through what I felt was a need to impose upon our divisions that the freedoms and charity we so brashly take as entitled came by way of united, incalculable loss and sacrifice.
Our freedoms were far from free.
And they are not maintenance free.
Being of the war documentaries era I have always been well aware of this. Utopia would have us whitewash over this history denying all the wisdom and harsh lessons to defend it.
This hand engraved glass slide assemblage of mainly First and Second World War imagery is meant to honour all those who have stood, fought and died for the freedoms we now take as entitled. And bears witness to the unimaginable atrocities of those times.
During the Brexit debate I was beginning to question whether or not we would have the same united resolve and sacrifice to defend our rights and freedoms given our diverse nature. This doubt was allayed during the aftermath of Manchester's terror attack of 2017.
United in resolve, communities stood side by side in defiance against a twisted ideology that took 22 of our dearly loved ones.
This mass gathering of unity was both profoundly uplifting and humbling. It was unifying and I felt so proud of them all.
Their faith in each other is also honoured here in this piece. This was done by way of an arm bearing the bee tattoo reaching down through the cathedral wreckage to an outstretched arm bearing the heart of 22 at its centre.
Encased in 40cm Perspex cube
Glass engraving detail of Manchester cathedral during Manchester blitz and present day rising from the ashes.
Behind the scenes
Originally Cenotaph was meant to consist of three cubes lightly lit with flickering candle/firelight. During casting of the other two cubes, the Grenfell Tower fire broke out on 14 June 2017.
In light of this, Cenotaph would have resembled too closely that of the day. And in respect of this, Cenotaph remains as it was that day. One cube.
I suppose in some strange way, Grenfell is here also by way of omission. Everything is so much more interconnected than we care to believe.
This piece is now available and open to loan.
Proposals can be made via website Contact/links.
Packaging, freight and installation not covered by the artist although the artist could be available for installation and talk along with additional material
Love is love
This solid pewter piece weighing in at 551 grams is meant as a tribute to Alan Mathison Turing, whose housekeeper famously found the 41-year-old mathematician dead in his bed with a part-eaten apple by his side poisoned with cyanide. An inquest determined his death as suicide. Alan Mathison Turing was Pivotal in securing the freedoms we now take as entitled. Love Is Love.
Part eaten apple stamped Enigma.
Medium/Solid Pewter weighing 551 grams.
Number 1 of 1
Base stamped (A M T ) beside (25 8 17) Manchester gay pride 2017.
Love Is Love.
A tribute to Alan Mathison Turing
Love is love. Wedding ring tray.
Ring tray is meant to be held by the ring bearer/s at the altar.
Medium/Ivory colour cast resin
Weighing 301 grams
Half part eaten apple in resin.
Presence of their absence
This little figure from The wheel of mourning/bereft (below) was my way of expressing the presence of absence emotionally. But it has been taken so fondly to heart by so many as a symbol of loving memory. And a loving presence at hand.
I am no authority on bereavement beyond that of my own experience but I believe much of our past rituals and beliefs were.
The need for ritual and beliefs are hard wired as a condition of our nature. And we rationalise them by way of continually re-branding. Or until the day we psychologically sanitise to the point of psychosis.
Who needs Christmas, Father Christmas and the tooth fairy? Other brands of hope, good will and magic are available!
I endeavour to draw from between the lines of our beliefs and rituals to present a more faithful human experience. One that is felt more than understood.
This piece runs along side The wheel of mourning/bereft and cenotaph.
91 grams of solid pewter
Limited edition of 24
Base number stamped.
Also available in ivory colour resin
The Wheel of Mourning/Bereft
When I was asked by Dorothea Stockmar, German writer
and artist if I would be interested in producing a work around her latest book The Wheel of Mourning, this came to mind.
A grief-stricken home. A mother, a father, sibling and the echo of an ever present absence. All momentarily frozen here in time. And very much like the human casts of Pompeii from which I took inspiration for these forms.
A mother of deafening denial with an upturned portrait at her feet has her back to a displaced sibling. And an exhausted father with his son, the fallen , to hand with a leaf from the cherry blossom tree they all planted. The fallen.
As the sibling, I felt adrift in this ever present absence. The presence of her absence. The presence of our absence.
The echoing sibling figure is the ever present absence that surrounds us.
Live for them so they live through you. Ever present.
Live for me. Love you.
Medium/wood/air drying clay/fibreglass/casting resin/copper/paint/varnish.
The Wheel of Mourning by Dorothea Stockmar.
DOROTHEA STOCKMAR. About. • German writer and painter living in Celle and Berlin. • death and grief counsellor focusing on symbolic-creative impulses for healing grief. • trained in the field of Art Therapy.
“Dorothea Stockmar’s book of symbols reflecting grief is the
fruit of her being both artist and bereaved mother. It is full of
helpful insights. When grief is unspeakable in words,
common symbols and metaphors can help to express
personal anguish and, sometimes, give glimpses of future
hope. Dorothea’s chosen symbols voice her own experience
and are deeply meaningful. They will also prompt each
reader to reflect on their own unique collection of symbolic
images of loss and hope. The book can itself be a compass
and companion on the long and arduous journey of grief.”
Dr. Margaret Brearley
Where to purchase The Wheel of Mourning-Grief-Relief by Dorothea Stockmar: