The Hierophant

Upright: Personal beliefs, freedom, challenging the status quo

 

Reversed: Spiritual Wisdom, Religious Beliefs, Conformity, Tradition, Instructions

 

A figure sits on a throne in a room that has been illuminated in red light. They hold a golden staff in their right hand, a symbol of authority. In their left hand they hold a white egg and gently cradle a live chicken in their arms, denoting fertility, life and new beginnings. The paintings that hang in the background of the image depicting images of antiquity seem to hang lofty and untethered. The black figure is centred, grounded, holding their power with grace and dignity. A red halo perches behind their head indicating a connection to the divine while their head is covered with a durag, an unapologetic symbol of black masculinity. This figure cannot be defined by gender or relegated to a particular time period. The intensity of their gaze reflects a presence and stillness, rooted in the here and now, with a vision for the future.

 

The Hierophant is the 5th card in the Major Arcana of the Tarot Deck. In the traditional Rider Waite tarot, which is the most well-known deck, The Hierophant represents an established set of values and beliefs and is often correlated with religion and other formal spiritual doctrines.

 

In my re-working of the image, The Hierophant represents more of the reversed attributes of the card. There are many invisible labours behind the staging of the photograph from gathering of materials to referencing images of spiritual mediums and shamans from a wide range of belief systems.

 

The photograph was taken in the picture gallery at Hospitalfield House. We shot the image using natural daylight and this was achieved by sunlight shining through red vinyl. The vinyl was part of a collaborative exhibition titled ‘Correspondences – a sound and light installation’ by Glasgow based artists Susannah Stark and Hussein Mitha. It was installed by Hussein as part their collaborative project Ways of Living. The colour red has been a recurring motif in my work over the years and this was the first time I’ve worked with coloured lighting to create the mood of a piece. Nevertheless, when we brought the photograph into print, I decided to desaturate it as I wanted to return to a more traditional printmaking style.

 

The etching technique employed to create the edition was photo-polymer etching, using a miraclon plate. This was my first time using this technique and it was a long but rewarding process. In total I made an edition of 60 etchings. 30 have been reserved for any new members of the Friends of Hospitalfield and the remaining 30 prints will be available to purchase soon so please get in touch with me directly if you’re interested.

 

I’d like to thank Hospitalfield for facilitating the making of the photograph and the Friends of Hospitalfield for this opportunity to create new work and translate that work using a new technique. The experience has been invaluable for me as an artist. Thank you also to the DCA Printmaking staff who have been incredibly helpful throughout the process of making this work. We could never have made the photograph without the cooperation of our avian collaborator who sat still and calm in my arms throughout the shoot. And finally, a special thanks to my partner Antanas Budvytis for helping me shoot the image and document the printmaking process.