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.