I am reviewing Lyndsey Jameson as part of the planning and research for my project on mental illness/mental wellness.
Lyndsey is a visual artist who predominantly paints with oils in the photorealistic style. She has been awarded the British Portrait Award with the National portrait Gallery (2015). She also received second place in the visitors choice of the British Portrait award in 2010.
I find her paintings to be hard-hitting expressions of emotions and inner conflict. She produces a narrative within each painting, but there is adequate space within that for the viewer to become the co-creator of story by questioning our emotions, inner thoughts and our concept of self and identity.
The Harpy – Oil on Linen 2013
Woman melting, Rook on Head, Rose and hair pin above ear, Eyes – white-no iris-no pupil, mouth wide, burnt orange-brown-red-yellow canvas, with some whiter/highlights as frame around head. Photorealistic, Emotion – anger-fear-loss
The woman could be materialising (left side of body has no lines of melting) so could be forming. She Could be melting (right hand side of body is like wax, melting down the page. A sense of not being seen as only shoulders and head visible.
The colours of canvas initially suggested anger, movement, energy, intensity, but I also see warmth, sunrise, mist.
Narrative:- The appearance of woman, self, arising through the mist of the morning sunrise, with a need to be heard and seen. There is a strength in the mouth and eyes and the form of the body, which is very defined other than the left arm. Were are not being shown, subtle, tender curves of the woman, we are being shown the dynamic strength of the feminine, the goddess. The Power.The Power is not a confrontation or hostility to the viewer, we are not being lead to be fearful. The perspective is side on, and although the woman is looking forward, she is not facing us. This is power without threat. Inner strength.
Research The Harpy and Celtic power animal (Crow, Rook, Raven)
Harpy – Roman Greek Mythology, half maiden half bird, hunger, faster than the winds, swift-footed, Swift Robbers, bringer of justice, protective of family – especially when harmed, considered ugly by MEN
“But even as early as the time of Aeschylus, they are described as ugly creatures with wings, and later writers carry their notions of the Harpies so far as to represent them as most disgusting monsters. The Pythian priestess of Apollo recounted the appearance of the Harpies in the following lines:
“Before this man an extraordinary band of women [i.e. Harpies] slept, seated on thrones. No! Not women, but rather Gorgons I call them; and yet I cannot compare them to forms of Gorgons either. Once before I saw some creatures in a painting, carrying off the feast of Phineus; but these are wingless in appearance, black, altogether disgusting; they snore with repulsive breaths, they drip from their eyes hateful drops; their attire is not fit to bring either before the statues of the gods or into the homes of men. I have never seen the tribe that produced this company, nor the land that boasts of rearing this brood with impunity and does not grieve for its labor afterwards.” also Vicious, cruel, tyrants that punished the wicked. (Wikipedia; 2017)
The Poem The Harpy by Robert William Service gives a different perspective on the Harpy, and suggests that the harpy is wise, wise to the shame of men, but punished by the gods to play the game of love, either for loves sake or payment. However, this is not a submissive role. These are women of power and are the hunters and not the hunted, even though the man may feel that he is the one with the power.
Celtic and Druid Mythology around ravens and crows concern, wisdom, the oracle, fortune-telling, seeing the future, death but he one that strikes me is that crows can be trained to speak.
I believe that Jameson is showing a woman, truly stepping into her own power, sense of self and will no longer be subservient, quite, shy. She knows who she is, she sees who you are, she sees the future and do not dare stand in her way, because you will pay the consequences if you do. This is also symbolised by the cawing crow. She is also mysterious and has hidden depths
“A lot of negative raven symbolism comes about from their appearance on battlefields. They are scavengers (and curious to a fault), and are often seen picking at mangled remains of fallen warriors on battle grounds.
For example, the raven’s intelligence is possibly its most winning feature. Indeed, these birds can be trained to speak. This speaking ability leads into the legend of ravens being the ultimate oracle.
In fact, the raven is often heard to cackle utterances that sound like “cras, cras.” The actual word cras is tomorrow in Latin. This lends more fuel to the legendary fires that distinguish the raven as a bird who can foretell the future, and reveal omens and signs.
Countless cultures point to the raven as a harbinger of powerful secrets. Moreover, the raven is a messenger too, so its business is in both keeping and communicating deep mysteries. The raven is symbolic of mind, thought and wisdom according to Norse legend, as their god Odin was accompanied by two ravens: Hugin who represented the power of thought and active search for information. The other raven, Mugin represented the mind, and its ability to intuit meaning rather than hunting for it. Odin would send these two ravens out each day to soar across the lands. At day’s end, they would return to Odin and speak to him of all they had spied upon and learned on their journeys.
Keywords Associated With Raven Symbolism
Vocal, Brassy, Knowing, Curious, Truthful, Creative, Authentic, Intuitive, Mysterious, Insightful, Intelligent, Unpredictable, Unconventional” (Veneficia; 2015-2017)
Druidism and Crow
“Another belief was that the birds were faeries who shape-shifted to cause troubles. Magickal qualities included bringing knowledge, shape-shifting, eloquence, prophecy, boldness, skill, knowledge, cunning, trickery and thievery. In the Middle Ages, people believed that sorcerers and witches used the symbol of Crows foot to cast death spells. In most of England, seeing a solitary crow meant anger, but in Northamptonshire, it meant ill fortune. Crow, cawing in a hoarse voice, meant bad weather. A death omen was a crow cawing thrice as it flew over a house. The Irish believed that Crow flocking in trees, but not nesting were souls from Purgatory. Finding a dead crow was a sign of good fortune. Russians believed that witches took the shape of Crow.” (Clara)
Torsion – Oil on Canvas 2006
Male Face, tortured, bruised, cyanosis, haematoma, locked in, unable to express, constricted emotions and thoughts, the eyes – restricted vision – no hope – no future – suicide, the wires wrap tightly around his face – he is mentally and verbally squashed, everything is kept in, his emotions and thoughts are tight and becoming tighter, he can’t get enough oxygen. He is dying with the weight of what he cannot think about or say. He has witnessed or committed tragedy, intense trauma. This is a form of inner suffocation and strangulation. The torture is not as a form of assault, the wires suggest this and say that something has happened to him. The trauma has happened to him and its eating him alive. He is in so much pain but there is no way that he is going to let it out. He is going to die. The pressure is too much. There is no sign that he is going to hit out, the wires tell of impotence, an inability to express.
Pain, sadness, grief, trauma, suffering, intensity, suffocation, powerlessness and death.
With the dictionary definitions of testicular torsion I believe the man may have suffered sexual abuse, and that this has cut of the life within him, as in the first dictionary definition. A hard hitting painting that made me pause deeply.
Torsion – dictionary
“Testicular torsion occurs when the spermatic cord (from which the testicle is suspended) twists, cutting off the testicle’s blood supply The most common symptom in children is rapid onset of severe testicular pain The testicle may also be higher than usual and vomiting may occur. In newborns pain is often absent and instead the scrotum may become discoloured or a testicle may disappear from its usual place” (Wikipedia; 2017a)
“def 1; late Middle English torcion wringing one’s bowels < Old French torsion < Late Latin torsiōn- (stem of torsiō) torment, equivalent to tors(us) twisted (see torse ) + -iōn- -ion” (Random House Dictionary; 2017)
“The Harpy – Poem by Robert William Service
There was a woman, and she was wise; woefully wise was she;
She was old, so old, yet her years all told were but a score and three;
And she knew by heart, from finish to start, the Book of Iniquity.
There is no hope for such as I on earth, nor yet in Heaven;
Unloved I live, unloved I die, unpitied, unforgiven;
A loathed jade, I ply my trade, unhallowed and unshriven.
I paint my cheeks, for they are white, and cheeks of chalk men hate;
Mine eyes with wine I make them shine, that man may seek and sate;
With overhead a lamp of red I sit me down and wait
Until they come, the nightly scum, with drunken eyes aflame;
Your sweethearts, sons, ye scornful ones — ’tis I who know their shame.
The gods, ye see, are brutes to me — and so I play my game.
For life is not the thing we thought, and not the thing we plan;
And Woman in a bitter world must do the best she can —
Must yield the stroke, and bear the yoke, and serve the will of man;
Must serve his need and ever feed the flame of his desire,
Though be she loved for love alone, or be she loved for hire;
For every man since life began is tainted with the mire.
And though you know he love you so and set you on love’s throne;
Yet let your eyes but mock his sighs, and let your heart be stone,
Lest you be left (as I was left) attainted and alone.
From love’s close kiss to hell’s abyss is one sheer flight, I trow,
And wedding ring and bridal bell are will-o’-wisps of woe,
And ’tis not wise to love too well, and this all women know.
Wherefore, the wolf-pack having gorged upon the lamb, their prey,
With siren smile and serpent guile I make the wolf-pack pay —
With velvet paws and flensing claws, a tigress roused to slay.
One who in youth sought truest truth and found a devil’s lies;
A symbol of the sin of man, a human sacrifice.
Yet shall I blame on man the shame? Could it be otherwise?
Was I not born to walk in scorn where others walk in pride?
The Maker marred, and, evil-starred, I drift upon His tide;
And He alone shall judge His own, so I His judgment bide.
Fate has written a tragedy; its name is “The Human Heart”.
The Theatre is the House of Life, Woman the mummer’s part;
The Devil enters the prompter’s box and the play is ready to start. “(Service; 1953)
Fig 1; Jameson, L; 2013; The Harpy Oil on Linen; Online at http://www.lyndseyjameson.com/ (accessed on 05/08/2017)
Fig 2; Jameson, L; 2006; Torsion Oil on Canvas; Online at http://www.lyndseyjameson.com/ (accessed on 05/08/2017)
Clara; Crow Divination Part 2 of 3; Online at http://www.avesnoir.com/crow-divination-pt-2-of-3/ (accessed on 05/08/2017)
Random House Dictionary; 2017; Origin of Torsion; New York; Random House Inc; In Dictionary.com; Online at http://www.dictionary.com/browse/torsion (accessed on 05/08/2017)
Service, RW; 1953; The Harpy; Online at https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-harpy/ (accessed on 05/08/2017)
Wikipedia; 2017; The Harpy; Wikipedia Foundation; Online at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpy (accessed on 05/08/2017)
Wikipedia; 2017a; Testicular torsion; Wikipedia Foundation; Online at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testicular_torsion (accessed on 05/08/2017)
Veneficia, A; 2005-2017; Raven Symbolism and Symbolic Meaning of Ravens; Online at http://www.whats-your-sign.com/raven-symbolism.html (accessed on 05/08/2017)