Blessings Everlasting

Specially prepared plant-based inks and earth pigments on paper, exposed to natural light over 1 year. 100x100 cm.

DateMarch 2023, ongoing
StatusFor sale
Category, , ,

Blessings Everlasting is part of my ongoing meditation on things passing and things enduring, and how natural art materials can reflect this.

The subject was inspired by the Islamic tradition of decorating surfaces with words expressing blessings and good wishes, as seen from the walls of Alhambra to Khorasan metalware and Nishapur ceramics. Researching this practice, I collected a long list of wishes, some of them I’ve worked with before: health, joy, well-being. But as the inscribed objects were often meant for rulers or would-be rulers, most of the words used were along the lines of: victory, dominion, influence, wealth, status, luxury, power, praise… Empty pursuits in my book, but they provided the idea.

The composition is made up of 11 historically used words:

  • Kindness رحمة
  • Power قدرة,
  • Charm بهاء,
  • Glory عزّ
  • Joy سرور
  • Goodness خير
  • Victory فتح
  • Praise ثناء
  • Authority امرة
  • Health عافية
  • Luck جدّ

They are painted in light-sensitive plant colours, with earth pigment added to some parts of the composition so that it will fade or degrade selectively. Three words only will endure and remain bright…

The plants used were turmeric and saffron for yellow, sappanwood for red, blackberry and mulberry for purples. The original colours can be seen above, shot right after completion when the inks were at their brightest. You then see the evolution over months left in a reasonably sunny spot: turmeric was the first to go, followed by saffron, while the berries have been getting less purple and more blue. The work will be put away after a full year of such exposure, during which I’ll continue to document changes – though the transformation will continue, more slowly, when it’s eventually put under glass.

Two months after making, turmeric is the first colour to go. The remaining tint is the gum binder itself.

Creation process:

A penny for your thoughts...