I make these icons when I have an idea or experience that needs to be honoured. They typically begin as colour pencil sketches and some go on to become egg tempera paintings. I studied icon painting in Cyprus for a brief period and I use some of these methods in the paintings. I am interested in the power of visual symbols as channels or connections to the unconscious, or what is sometimes seen as ‘divine’ forces.
Some of these images are my own dream spirits manifesting themselves. I worked in Amazonian Ecuador in 2000 and learnt about how people there use dreams in a very practical way to guide and inform their lives. I would describe this as the “inconscious” knowledge of the body taking human form and speaking directly to our ‘thinking’ minds with useful and important information.
For example, ‘Baby Sun’ tells of the conception of my child. The ‘Fancy Lady’ wears the quickening coat of the pregnant woman – yet both of these images came to me when I still didn’t ‘know’ I was pregnant.
The depictions of medicines as saints relate to the dream spirits of the Shiwiar, who have doctors and tree spirits come to them in dreams with precise prescriptions for their sicknesses. Their body is identifying the treatment and then expressing it to them in the dream state so they can heal themselves. I wanted to thank the medicines that have saved me from pain and disease by making them into saints. Others are simply honouring things and events that are important to me.