CONVERSATIONS WITH KINGS, 2020
Series of 56 images, watercolour and mixed media on khadi paper, 400 x 1090mms (16 x 43″)
Conversations with Kings was initiated after seeing the unforgettable C13th sculpted heads of the Kings of Judah in the Musée de Cluny in Paris; a magnificent and monumental collection of damaged, often fragmented sculpted heads carved in limestone. Their history is extraordinary and dramatic: for centuries as heads of full length figures adorning the main façade of Notre Dame, their violent desecration, their burial and eventual rediscovery. Most epic however, is the power and intensity that these heads retain, even as fragments of their former selves. Of the original twenty eight sculpted heads, twenty-one have been found, the other seven remain lost.
Imagining what these ageless Kings have witnessed over the centuries and could tell, are explored in this work. The devastating 2019 Notre Dame fire where they first lived and the gathering global Covid crisis in early 2020 added yet more unsettling potency to conversations written into these images.
The 56 small paintings here are, more precisely, two sets of 28 images and echo the 28 original sculpted Kings of Judah at Notre Dame. The denominations into four groups of seven reference the 21 found heads and the seven that are still missing.
The two sets are arranged here as if in an amphitheatre or sacred place, with a central aisle separating them.