El-Roi – the God who sees.
In the 16th and 21st chapters of Genesis, we have two very poignant accounts of Hagar, Sarah's Egyptian slave, running away into the wilderness and, in the depths of her misery and desolation, she encountered Yahweh. He called her by name and spoke with her. Hagar's realization that the God of Abraham had understood her woes touched her to the core. She rose up and declared, "El-Roi – You-are-The-God-Who-Sees" and became the only woman in that patriarchal belief system to have named God.
"Have I also here seen Him who sees me?", she uttered.
As a portrait and figurative artist, I am enthralled by faces and by the differing shapes and weightiness of the human form. I admire the clothes and costumes so creatively designed to tell stories of the human drama. In all this I revel but at the same time I strain to look deeper, so to convey in my work something of the inner workings of people's hearts.
The compiling of this group of charcoal drawings began with a three week trip to Montreal in 2014. I was introduced to the core members of the Blue Mushrooms Circus Side Show Troupe, a group of very creative performers consisting of a circus ring-master, a sword swallower, a contortionist; a ring-mistress, a strong-man and a burlesque artist. They gathered me into their circle as a friend and our exchanges were interesting and real. The drawings of the last three persons mentioned are in this exhibition.
The remainder of this assembly of drawings are of the old, the young, a woman with disabilities, a belly-dancer, a woman with-child, two woman of singular beauty, and a triptych of a performer's own face without the mask of makeup.
To all my models, thank you for your many hours of stillness whilst posing for me, and for granting me the favour of exposing your images to the world.
To El-Roi, thank You for the gift of eyes to see...
Erica and Beau
Psalm 139 (mixed versions)
You have formed my inward parts;
You have knit me together in my mother's womb.
My frame was not hidden from You
When I was woven together in secret,
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
Darlene has been a resident at the False Creek Residence for Independent Living Society for 32 years. She lives with spina- bifida and epilepsy and is wheelchair bound. Having her portrait drawn was an altogether new experience for her.
She said afterwards, "I left respected, and it was nice that someone admired me. I feel this is a good way for people to learn more about individuals with developmental disabilities."
I first laid eyes on Bryna at a Jewish Passover dinner in 2014. She was a feisty, ninety-four-year-old lady. "I wonder why God has kept me alive for so long?", she said. I was as surprised as she was when the words tumbled out of my mouth, "He has kept you alive so I get to draw you!" Well, that became a reality and we became friends.
Bryna passed away on January 22nd of this year. She would have turned ninety-eight on April 15th.
"They called her Lola"
My glamorous, redoubtable curator in her flapper garb!
I call her a '1930's Shanghai Beauty'
Lina, a petit lady who walked straight out of classical Chinese paintings into the "Paris of the East" era of Shanghai.
He is called Tom
A well-mannered, young Brit, passing through.
Angela - Circus Ring-Mistress
The Mighty Leviticus - A Strongman
BonBon Bombay - The Whimisical Burlesque Artist
BonBon - Herself
Stephanie - The Belly Dancer
Three years ago, when my grandson Solly was two, he picked up a huge chunk of coloured chalk, made a few circles on the sidewalk in front of his house and has not stopped since. His keenest interests to date have been things that move - trains, garbage trucks, gondolas, seaplanes and 'blimps'. Like most children, his curious mind absorbs whatever he sees which he expresses without inhibition, and his rolls and rolls of drawings are endless.
Before even his conception, Solly's late maternal grandma and I had spoken together of our shared hope that the artistic eye would be passed on to our future grandchildren. Here it is, Sue.