More detail

Ceiling paintings, Fusion paintings

In the region of the arab costume I have begun adding arabic. Already I have added a trace of Hebrew, but this must be greatly increased.

The subtle traces of Egyptian influence has been augmented in the painting, as has the cuneiform alphabet decorating the rabbi’s head shawl. In this way I allude to the preceding myths of mesopotamia that became incorporated into the old testament.

I’m beginning to develop a frieze of events that describe the birth stories of these three religions. All agree on Adam and Eve, the trouble in the garden of eden and the subsequent outcasting. Cain and Abel fight, the first murder, and the flood where only Noah survives. So far, so good, but it wont all fit in.

Overall it is at this stage. Still much to do, especially the missing strip along the bottom.

Considerations of language and calligraphy

Ceiling paintings

I am at the stage now when I am adding text to the images. Each of the Semitic religions places great emphasis on the written word. Each believe that their sacred text has been divinely inspired, and contains instructions for living that every believer should follow. They are ‘doctrinaire’ religions that require obedience and belief.


This small image on one corner of the main panel shows an angel looking over the shoulder of a writer.

I am beginning to introduce Hebrew into the gown of the rabbi figure, Greek into the christian’s gown and Arabic into that of the Muslim. As I do so I am exploring the relationship between the three texts. I find, for example, that the Hebrew we are familiar with in Jewish texts developed in Babylon during the exiles starting in 587BC. Old Hebrew or Samaritan Hebrew has been included in the writing because it  links the early Jews to a larger linguistic group that included the Phoenicians. It is thought that their spoken language was nearly identical.

This small area contains examples of the old Hebrew. This is almost identical with written Phoenician, and may have influenced, or been influenced by Greek.

In this same spirit I will add  some cuneiform script to reference the fact that some of the ancient stories in the old testament, the Torah, are much older. The story of Noah, for example, has counterparts throughout Mesopotamia and many references has been found in cuneiform libraries that are much older than the hebrew texts.


The Christian has text written in Greek, because the earliest extant bibles were written in that language. I have imitated the text of the Codex Sinaiticus, now one of the treasures of the National Library. The Hebrew text is also included in this region because of the huge debt owed by the Christian sacred text to the Torah.

Likewise the Hebrew, and a little Greek, must be included in the robes of the Muslim, referencing the influences of both earlier roots.

Preparation for the calligraphy

Ceiling paintings

Most of the elements of the picture are in place. There is more work to be done on the left of the picture, and I must add a strip to the bottom, part of which may obstruct the window. I am thinking of some kind of fretwork solution to this area.

I am planning to introduce calligraphy into the image now. The written word developed great importance in the Jewish world and I will emphasise this by covering the rabbi with hebrew, as he sleeps.

I have been preparing the overall image for this stage by introducing perturbations in the painted surface, breaking the flat surface so that it takes on the appearance of hanging cloth or folded paper in many parts of the picture.

On this undulated and twisted surface I will introduce the calligraphy – Hebrew, Greek and Arabic. I want to introduce Hebrew into the Christian area of text to reflect the fact that much of the Christian scriptures were taken over from the Jewish. The Arabic text likewise owes much to Jewish thought, so that must be reflected, together with some Greek influence.

Notice that Noah and his ark appear here. Not only do all the Semitic religions tell this same story, but so do many other ancient cultures of Mesopotamia. There appears to be archaeological evidence of great inundations in many parts of the region. Moses too is a figure spoken of in all three religions. He is the most mentioned figure in the Quran.

I have long been fascinated by the way the Christian scriptural tradition took its present form. There is a group of books by Charles Freeman, in particular one that describes the council of 381:

“In AD 381, Theodosius, emperor of the eastern Roman empire, issued a decree in which all his subjects were required to subscribe to a belief in the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This edict defined Christian orthodoxy and brought to an end a lively and wide-ranging debate about the nature of the Godhead; all other interpretations were now declared heretical. Moreover, for the first time in a thousand years of Greco-Roman civilization free thought was unambiguously suppressed. Yet surprisingly this political revolution, intended to bring inner cohesion to an empire under threat from the outside, has been airbrushed from the historical record. Instead, it has been claimed that the Christian Church had reached a consensus on the Trinity which was promulgated at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381. In this groundbreaking new book, Freeman argues that Theodosius’s edict and the subsequent suppression of paganism not only brought an end to the diversity of religious and philosophical beliefs throughout the empire but created numerous theological problems for the Church, which have remained unsolved. The year AD 381, Freeman concludes, marked ‘a turning point which time forgot’.”

The codex Sinaiticus, the earliest version of the New Testament (plus a lot of the old) was written about the time of 381 council, and the many scratchings out and revisions that appear in its pages testifies to the malleable nature of Christian doctrine at this time.

I shall use this codex as part of the text that will be added to the image.