These paintings were inspired by my illustration work at Lamanai and by the lush tropical forest environment.
Using the designs from my illustration work at Lamanai as an inspiration, I began a series of oil paintings based on a personal interpretation of Maya Underworld forms and themes.
The paintings derive their power from ancient Maya art and symbolism; with their bright colours and dynamic shapes, they express the transformative power of these underworld themes in combination with my experience of the tropical environment with its bright colours, exotic plants and wildlife.
Inspired by these powerful ancient symbols, I wanted to re-interpret the stylised designs on the ceramic vessels. The vibrant curving and organic forms are a re-working of incised designs on Postclassic (12th to 15 century A.D .) ceramic censer vessels from Lamanai.
Represented within the designs are animals from the Maya Underworld, such as the serpent, jaguar and crocodile, and together with the leaves of maize plants, feathers of the macaw and the quetzal, the mythological sky serpent, jaguar imagery such as pelts and claws, curling breath and rain scrolls, make up the main features of ancient Maya iconography; these ancient symbols have a powerful resonance as they connect us to the collective human experience.
The paintings are based on quite small two-dimensional slip designs from ceramic vessels which are then scaled up to a much larger size; the forms are enhanced and painted with bright tropical hues; they slide and float on ‘the edge’ between two-dimensional design and three-dimensional shapes.
The pictorial space is an ambiguous combination of decorative flat surfaces – the depths of the waters of the Underworld and infinite space. Light and shadow give volume to the forms which appear to float away from the surface.
The colours are those of Maya colour symbolism, but do not confer the same meanings; visual interest is achieved by an interplay of solid forms – the feathers, spirals etc. are set in spaces symbolising sky and the waters of the Underworld.
To the ancient Maya bright colours were the mark of a transcendent state and, in the paintings, I used these colours to express the hot bright hues of the tropics and attempted to create an equivalence for the luxuriance of jungle plant growth and the shimmering colours of the tropical birds of Central America.
In Maya art red was the colour of life in the Underworld, blue symbolised royalty, the sky and water, and green represented life, growth, the world tree, or centre of the world, and also the Maya’s most important precious stone, jade. Yellow was the colour of growing corn and therefore represented growth and sustenance.
Memory and experience of the tropical rainforest with its wonderful variety of textures and colours are the inspiration for the watercolours.
Abstract foliage and symbols from ancient Maya ceramics patterns and designs, combine with birds and insects to create a dream-like world.
The paintings are divided into three levels, the earth, with its insects, foliage and rocks, the middle distance of hills and mountains, and then the sky with birds and clouds.
Interested in buying prints or replicas
Most images can be produced to customer specification; please send details of the space in which you intend to place the artwork, or budgetary guidelines, along with any other information you feel will help.
I can provide prices for work on canvas, watercolour paper and prints.
The prices shown below are only intended as a guide as there are various options available for most of my work.
Oil Paintings: Prints can be purchased on canvas from £70, watercolour or art paper from £20. Paintings can be produced up to 23″x 33″. Original canvases can also be purchased.
Ceramic Replicas and Sculptures: All ceramics are handmade to order. From £60.00
Lamanai Pictures: Prints can be purchased and produced up to 16½”x 23″.
Lamanai Rubbings: Stela 9
Multi -coloured – as shown – $350 US
One colour – dark blue or terracotta – $250 US