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Symbols and metaphors in my art 

I love to use images from life, nature or found objects such as blossom, boats, broken pottery, birds, hands and eyes and use these in an out of context way. By taking the image out of its normal context, it helps me use these images to create metaphors and symbols to explore themes like the beauty and fragility of life, brokenness and repair, loss and restoration. 



An image that reappears throughout my work is blossom. In Japanese artwork, the blossom is used frequently to symbolise the beauty but fragility of life. I love the image of that. I love the anticipation of waiting for the blossom to bloom. and then the sadness of it falling. The fragility and beauty of life summed up by such a glorious flower. 

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Following on from the blossom, another similar symbol which I enjoy using is the butterfly. The butterfly like the blossom is a thing of beauty but again is here for too short a time. It also symbolises the struggle of life, pushing through the cocoon to live the last part of its life.



Another image that is seen in some of my work is the hand and objects being held. Hands can tell a story and I like my story to show the gentleness, kindness, tenderness and care by placing delicate, small objects or creatures into them. A hand is an extension of its owner and displays personality. If a person is angry, the tension can be found in a hand. If the person is love, the hand displays acceptance and safety. These little creatures are safe in these hands. They are known. These hands to me symbolise the ever lasting love of God for humanity and creation. For example a mouse by some is seen as a nuisance, a forgotten creature but not to God. Jesus hung out with such creatures as these. The forgotten, the sinners, the broken reminding us that even the small things are known to Him and held.

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One of the other recurring symbol that you can find in some of my work is the image of the boat. I love to take the boat out of its normal context of floating or sailing on water and instead transport it into the clouds. By creating this juxtaposition , it allows the boat to take on a new meaning and become something spiritual. The boat is symbolic of a vessel, our bodies, a shell which holds our spirit, our inner being. When we think of the sky we often hear it being spoken about as the heavens, or a celestial place. Connecting our frail vessels with a heavenly/eternal experience.

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Birds and angels 

Bird and Angels

Birds have the benefit of seeing life from a different perspective. Our feathered friends, can see great distances and help to remind us to try and have a birds eye view on life, rather than focusing on the immediate thing at hand. They remind me of having an eternal perspective. If the sky symbolises the heavens and the celestial/ spiritual connection with God then the birds symbolise having our being, thoughts, minds, emotions set on eternal things, then it can impact our temporal earthly, fragile humanity. The Bible does not say anything about angels having wings but because of artistic misinterpretation or artists throughout history we see angels with wings and now it is hard not to associate wings with angels. I find that using the artistic tool of wings helps the viewer think something is otherworldly and helps them identify an angel. Angels to me are similar symbol to birds. They are connected to unseen world but like the bird they see a different, eternal perspective reminding us to look up and seek an encounter with our Maker

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Broken pottery and gold 

Broken pottery and gold.

When walking along the East Sands in St Andrews, I often find pieces of beautifully designed broken pottery. I started to collect it and it really spoke to me about the brokenness and beauty of life. The harsh sea softening the sharp edges. These pieces of pottery were once part of something whole but are now shattered into pieces. It speaks to me of humanity and the brokenness of life. In Japanese culture they have something called Kintsugi, it is the artform of repairing broken pottery with pure gold. I love this image of our broken life being held together by something so precious like Gold. Gold to me symbolises God and His divine love and connection with humanity. I often use gold shafts of light or gold leaf to demonstrate God's ability to heal us and repair us and restore us to something greater and more beautiful than before.

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Eyes are the window to the soul. We use them to communicate with each other and connect. They are like a gateway, door or window into someone's innerlife. They also symbolise our ability to see, view the world and have vision. The eye is a vulnerable image of being transparent, connecting and being fully known to one another. 

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The symbol of the tree has been seen throughout art history, specifically the tree of life. Throughout the bible, the symbol of the tree is repeated many times. In the garden we see the tree of life and the tree of knowing good and evil. Jesus was crucified on a tree and he used the parable of Himself being a tree and we are the branches of that tree. Calling us to be plugged into the source of life itself. For myself, I love to paint trees to represent the fullness of life with God. and explore the hidden root system. 



 I frequently return to using the symbol of a birds nest . For me it represents a home. It may be very fragile but it is beautiful. Each strand is known to its maker and it is lovingly built, every fibre is knitted together. I echo this fragile beauty by placing eggs inside, representing family. The little eggs trust the structure and trust its designer and creator. When storms come and damage the nest, the eggs trust that it will be rebuilt, maybe even into something more durable and strong.

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Throughout my artwork you may have seen the image of a bee. Whether it be my Bee, blossom and glory painting series or painting bees in the clouds with honey pouring from heaven. In my mind the bee represents the fulness of life. Wherever you find honey , you find the life cycle. The fragile, temporal, beautiful existence of a flower being pollinated and sustained by a bee. From flower to flower to flower creating new life. The honey that the bee makes giving sustenance for future bees and its Queen. In the Bible whenever honey was mentioned, it spoke of life, prosperity and a good fertile land. My bee, blossom and glory exhibition was my first solo show and the painting with the same title was the very first painting that sold in the exhibition. I now use this image as my logo and have it printed onto mugs, cards and tote bags. My hope is that my artwork, like the bee, will bring life and hope to our fragile, temporal, beautiful lives spreading words and images of encouragement, like pollen, from one person to another.

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