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A Secret Place

The cave-like setting of Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks at the National Gallery in London suggests a private or even a secret meeting of Mary and Jesus with Elizabeth and John. Secluded or even cloistered is the overall impression of the columns of natural, wild untamed rock mounting towards the heavens; like cathedral spires.

            While the scene is one of hallowed and most holy image of essential individuals in the story we now know as the Bible; the setting is a quiet, humble place. This secret location undisturbed by the conquests of emperors and kings is still virginal, pristine secluded from the world and yet a world unto itself.

The introduction of the element of water is fundamental, for while the birth of Jesus into biblical texts brings life to ancient writings so is water essential to all life. A look at the actual heavens via powerful telescopes it is the vision of blue planets that bring the greatest possibilities of life on other Earths. Water is essential for life. Water was also a symbol of Mary and at the root of her name is the meaning: drop of the sea. In the earlier version of Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks at the Louvre in Paris the representation of the element water is smaller and darker whereas the painting at the National Gallery in London is buoyed up by the insertion of blue water in the background, Blue sky from whence rain may fall; again water is key to the difference of these two masterpieces.

My acrylic painting The Siren’s Lullaby, a.k.a., The Mermaid of the Rocks is a humble attempt in the shadow of Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest works. The solemnity and reverence I felt at seeing this massive painting is like entering a quiet cave, water reflecting on the ceiling, similar to what I felt in trespassing in a sea cave on the coast of California during a visit to Pismo Beach. I could see sea otters while they dined amid the kelp beds immediately off the beach. I was alone and the sounds of water rushing by and on the exposed rock were potential perches for sea lions to escape the sea to calve.  This cave could well be a potential nursery hidden from the world of man; a sanctuary that on my last visit was only accessible by boat for now even at low tide it was nearly submerged. Now it is a secret place, hidden from casual observation where a Siren may have the privacy to birth new life.  

I wish you all the chance to wonder at the mysterious day we call Christmas.  Bon Noel and a very Happy New Year!

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