- part four -
"Is it me, or is the raven smiling slyly?"
Summer Crow - mixed media
The raven, or more generically the
crow, is the symbol of knowledge in many cultures, perhaps because they are
such intelligent animals. There are studies of ravens feeling empathy for their
slain fellows, responding positively or negatively to those they consider
‘friend or foe’, using tools in the wild to access out-of-reach food,
disguising where they hide food and even playing dead. In Norse mythology, the
raven is the messenger of the god Odin, fulfilling the role of Hermes in Greek
pantheon (Hermes was considered a mainline of knowledge as he bears messages
from all the corners of Olympus and Earth below – all secrets pass through
him). The raven was also, of course, the animal chosen by Edgar Allan Poe to
represent the insistent prompting of the psyche, the deeper subconscious that
already knows the truth we cannot rationally / consciously accept: Lenore is
Here we see the raven set on a golden background. In the top right corner, the sun shines. The dark green foliage beneath is flecked with autumnal shades. The image represents an icon, but I’m not aware of any icons depicting ravens, which is perhaps what makes this image so striking. It is a Pagan icon, a Norse re-imagining of Christian shrine imagery. The raven is depicted against a backdrop of boundless light. As well as iconography, the gold also recalls the desert sands and embossed pyramids of Ancient Egypt. The Egyptians associated gold with divinity. The re-forged member of Osiris was of gold. Here, the image also becomes Hermetic, emblematic of the secret knowledge of the world, so much of which has been lost through thoughtless bloodshed. The placement of the autumnal leaves amidst the dark green is, at least to my mind, suggestive of the fact we are running out of time. The world is ageing, moving steadily towards its winter (again, an Anglo Saxon / Norse idea). The raven, however, stands above this. It stands in the realm of immortality, of gold-clad eternity. Is it me, or is the raven smiling slyly?
- part three -
A Quiet Figure - digital painting
This piece of digital art to me represents daydreaming and the power of the imagination. The woman sits pensively on a stone, one hand casually slung across her knees, the other looks like it is stroking her chin (or perhaps she is chewing her nails?). The right hand side of the canvas is white-space, empty. The left hand side is roiling gold. To me, the gold seems to be springing from the back of her head, representing the wealth of thought that lies ‘behind’ the face. It should be noted that in Greek mythology Athena sprang from the head of Zeus. He literally created a god with his imagination, in one sense. The woman faces away from us, looking outward at the ‘whitespace’ and revealing little to the world. The ‘powdering’ effect on the image suggests winter, like snowflakes falling around her, but it also makes the woman and her hair glisten, as though she is caught in a dazzling sunbeam or has just emerged from water. The gold could represent the sun too, of course, falling on her back and hair. This might invite a more Pagan reading, of sun worship, though interestingly she faces away from the sunlight.
There is a certain contemplative anxiety about this image. Perhaps it reflects the model’s anxiety as she was being sketched? Perhaps it is my mother’s own anxiety about the way the image would come out? Either way, there is an intriguingly neolithic quality to this piece. The squatting posture of the ‘thinker’ evokes cave men and women to me, pondering the nature of their existence in whatever language they had. The outward form, which is human and fleshly, belies the internal gold, which is the human spirit and intelligence, purer and more perfect than its outward shell.
- part two -
"I imagine the silence and stillness of sitting in that little pointed alcove, unaffected by the turbulence of the waters around me" Continuing the series of responses by my son the writer Joseph Sale.
Into the Blue - mixed media
There’s a saying among novelists that ‘one idea does not a great novel make’. It’s always the intersection between two (or more) great ideas that form an intriguing story. This image embodies this, for me. On the one hand, it uses architectural shapes that remind us of classical geometry. On the other, it uses a kind of roiling textured paintwork that gives us the impression of an ocean or water. In the top left-hand corner, gold plays across the ripples, suggesting light from some far-above surface trickling down into the deep. The piece is called ‘Into the Blue’ and in this it makes me think of two things. Firstly, ‘blue’ as in the mood of being down, from which the musical genre gets its epithet. Secondly, ‘blue’ meaning ‘the ocean’. Interesting, in the middle of the piece, bordered off by the curved arch-lines, there is a place where the water is undisturbed. This hollow draws our focus. It is like a little piece of serenity found somewhere deep within. A bubble of calm. Looking at this piece makes me feel sad and peaceful at the same time. I imagine the silence and stillness of sitting in that little pointed alcove, unaffected by the turbulence of the waters around me. At the same time, there, I am shut off from the light trying to reach me by a solid wall. I cannot help but think the curved walls are also somehow symbolic of the walls of the human skull. These are the external barriers that do not permit light into the dark, deep caverns of our minds.
- part one -
I recently asked my son - the writer Joseph Sale - to select some of his favourite pieces of my artwork and to make a written response to them. I was intrigued by his choices and the images and thoughts they evoked...
The Light of st Honorat - mixed media
A while ago, my mother and father went to visit the isle of St Honorat in the Bay of Cannes. This holy and beautiful place, which has been a home to a community of monks since the fifth century, was inspirational to them; my father for his poetry, and my mother for her artwork. In this piece , my mother has captured the shapes of St Honorat’s buildings, arches, and corridors in an almost impressionistic way. The more I look at this image, the more I feel a strange sense of peace. It reminds me of W. B. Yeat’s poem ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’, where the narrator must escape the busyness of modern life to live a modest existence amidst the sound of ‘honey bees’ and the beauty of the natural world. The effect of the poem is ‘stilling’, it gives the mind room for contemplation of the higher ideals of life. The effect of this piece is similar.In this painting, we peer through a row of arches, shaded from the sun, painted in cool green colours that reflect the ‘natural’ arches of palm trees. We look out on a sunlit courtyard and another wall facing inward. Above the wall, we can see a sliver of golden sky, the bright daylight of France. The wall itself is sandstone, practically glowing beneath the sun’s heat. The three arches in its face are entirely dark, perhaps suggesting the mysteries contained within holy places. A silver line cuts at a right angle across the picture. There is a ghostly mirror of it in the gold alcove on the left hand side, like a reflection. Beneath this silver line, the painting becomes increasingly blurry and indistinct, almost like seeing something beneath water, or a reflection on the water’s surface. There is no pool, however, at St Honorat. Instead, I think this is serving to indicate to us the deeper nature of things, the world that is ‘just visible’ in places like St Honorat, hovering beneath the surface.
Judith Denholm and Liz Gilbey Collecting Friends…
Judith and Liz have been friends for over 13 years. They share a number of things in common. Family, travel, yoga and… artwork by Linda E Sale!
What was the first painting you acquired from Linda E Sale?
Liz - ‘Reclining Man’ – figure drawing - Liz acquired this piece at one of my earliest solo exhibitions. Figure drawing has always been a focus for me – at one time it was almost the only thing I did. I still attend regular sessions and have introduced a digital element by working on my ipad.
Judith – ‘Cat Icon’ - Judith was attracted to this piece because she likes altar pieces and icons which are also a big influence on my work (Judith really surprised me by reminding me the very first thing she bought from me was one of my hand drawn T-shirts!)
Which piece do your friends/family/visitors like best?
Liz – I find visitors often notice ‘Reclining Man’ – usually commenting on the physique! I then show them the ‘Reclining Lady’ – the pieces are 2 very different styles. One is in a very classic style drawn in pencil/pastel/charcoal – the other is more experimental using collage and gold leaf.
Judith – I have 3 Cat paintings/drawings and they are displayed as a group so people tend to comment on them all. They are interested in the fact they are by the same artist but also by the composition. The cats look out to the distance – what are they thinking?! The 3 pieces are also in very different styles – painting, drawing and stencil/mono print.
As an artist it is always a joy when you find people who respond to your work and can relate to what you are trying to express. Both Judith and Liz particularly enjoy the richness of my paintings – often created by the use of gold – but also the spiritual and contemplative effect.
Thanks to Judith and Liz for their on-going enthusiasm and support of my work and for sharing their thoughts about the work they have collected. Linda E Sale September 2017
Sue Kerr: Confessions of an Art Collector…
What was the first painting you acquired from Linda E Sale?
‘Inside the Whale’ – acrylic on board
This painting is the original artwork used for the cover of James Sale’s book of poetry called ‘Inside the Whale’. The poems are about a three month stay in hospital where he experienced revelations and visions as he strove to recover. He also received remarkable demonstrations of care, support and love.
My husband Sandy had also endured a serious illness and we had just returned from Scotland where we had spent a week inside the NHS visiting his mother. Within a few days of returning we attended the launch event of Inside the Whale. After hearing the poetry and James’ story the painting came to life for me. It is the first painting I have looked at that I felt emotionally attached too. It had a special poignancy for us.
(Like many artists I find it hard to put a price on my work. But this painting meant so much to me and reflected the experience I had shared with James I found it easy to value it highly – not necessarily expecting to sell it. Not even sure I wanted to sell it. And then Sue started to talk to me about how much it also meant to her and it felt so satisfying to know that it was being bought by someone who related to it so strongly)
Which is your favourite artwork?
I find it hard to pick one as they all mean different things to me. The commission for Sandy’s 60th birthday is special. Linda seemed to immediately ‘get’ what I had in mind. She said it felt as if I was ‘channelling’ the image to her! She does not usually do commissions but said that this one felt as if it would be ‘natural’.
I love the life drawings because of the fluid lines. In particular the ‘Seated Man’ (charcoal) looks as though he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. I felt drawn to this when Sandy was going through a difficult time with his health and it seemed to reflect how he was feeling. They all have emotional attachments. I buy them because they have meaning.
(This echoes my desire to create work that has meaning that can be felt by others and reflected on and enjoyed or be comforted by)
Which piece do your friends/family/visitors like best?
The piece people are often drawn to is a digital painting that Linda did to celebrate my taking part in the local Business Come Dancing charity event! I love it because it reminds me of a very special experience which I thoroughly enjoyed but everyone else seems drawn to it too. They often remark on the flowing limitless lines, the energy and the movement.
Most of the paintings are hung in our hall way – so everyone who visits gets to see them! They also usually get ALL the stories about why I chose them!
Thanks to Sue Kerr for her on going enthusiasm and support of my work and for sharing her thoughts about the work she has collected. Sue and Sandy Kerr currently own 9 works – including life drawing, acrylic, oils and digital pieces.
Linda E Sale February 2017