Monday, 2 February 2009



Keith, introduced to me originally through Elizabeth, later became one of the twelve at the inauguration of Ordo Sancti Graal. On the occasion of my birthday five years ago he kindly gave me The Hours of Catherine of Cleves, comprising one hundred and sixty colour plates. When opening this book, the first plate to greet my eyes was Saint Michael Battling a Demon. A resplendent St Michael is locked in combat with a demon, who claws at his armour as he is pierced by the archangel-saint’s long cross-staff. Although both St Michael and the demon are winged, their struggle takes place on the ground. The patron saint of exorcists impales the demonic manifestation in order to remove it from our earthly plane. Such are the images from this most popular devotional book of the later Middle Ages.

Keith is pictured above during a visit last year to my private chapel. His hair was slightly shorter when I painted his portraits a couple of years earlier and his spectacles were noticably larger. A third portrait, not shown here, was presented to him on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday. The portrait which appears below combines emotions from forty years ago (the time of his harrowing confrontation with a situation where the malign supernatural held sway) together with a transfigured appearance more redolent of how he might eventually look.

In many instances, of course, such biographical analysis is unnecesary and not territory the artist should wittingly enter, but occasionally it is rewarding for those totally unfamiliar with the subject matter and the subject's background. Even so, paintings must speak for themselves. They should be more than just the sum of the parts. Something transcendental ought to manifest as oil greets canvas; something of the inner person.

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