Tuesday 25 April 2017

Art in focus: 'The Magician'

'The Magician' is the very conduit between the Universe and Humanity. He has the ability to channel the power of the world through his actions and being. This card is all about skill, concentration and creativity. A time is upon you when you can achieve your goals with your own skill, initiative and determination. Focus your energy and actions, trust the message of 'The Magician', draw on the power of the universe and it will aid your own creativity to achieve your desires. Commitment, concentration and creativity ensure success.

Depictions of 'The Magician' vary from deck to deck but many similarities are often maintained, such as the suggestion of supernatural, magical powers and a mysterious atmosphere. Most depictions of the Magician show him holding a wand, dating back as far as Marseille Tarot, and include a table of significant objects referring to the suits of Tarot. In the Rider-Waite deck 'The Magician' maintains many original elements, but is enriched with further symbolism such as the red roses and white lilies at his feet representing duality, his red and white clothing symbolising purity and knowledge and the eternity symbol, which is hinted at on the brim of the hat in Marseille Tarot, but is here shown more obviously above the Magicians head.

While I was sketching ideas for my Magician I went on a short post-Christmas break to York with my partner. In a Church there I was struck by a stained glass window which had some striking similarities to my preliminary sketches back home. At that point the only decision I had made was that my Magician would be holding a flaming Chalice, all other elements were still open to development. The window figure was holding a chalice with snake emerging from it. I photographed the window, thinking it a stroke of fate that I had stumbled across Something so similar to my sketch, and decided to go with the timely suggestion made by fate and incorporated some other elements from the window, including the deep blue clothing and fair hair.
The Magician is one of my designs with the most separate symbolic elements. His elemental study/studio is full of objects symbolically referring to Tarot. Upon the Magicians workbench are items representing the suits of Tarot; a wand, a pentangle in the form of a wax seal stamp, the Magician holds the cup, and two swords are displayed upon the wall. Other items within the scene also have symbolic meaning, with the books representing knowledge and learning, the quill and parchment expressing creativity and the hourglass reminding us of our mortality. Within a glass cloche on the very edge of the image sits a specimen of a Crow. The crow is a recurring element in my series which I decided to include in this piece for continuity and also to symbolise knowledge.
The chalice held by the Magician burns with the flame of knowledge, but also represents his powers of alchemy and the possibility of his skill and knowledge. Other elements on his bench hint to alchemy, such as the glass bottle and notes, but his experimentation is left deliberately mysterious to the viewer.
As 'The Magician' is the card is numbered one it represents new beginnings, I chose to express this through the hint of the new dawn through the arched window, which frames the magician. His laboratory is purposely humble and modest, with a flagstone floor and lime washed walls, excess is of no concern to him, and would only serve as a distraction from the real importance of his existence and purpose. His eyes stare with a haunting knowledge and depth, hinting at his relationship with the universe and the power it channels through him. His headband is another recurring feature in the series, an ouroboros, representing infinity and eternity.
I wanted to give the impression that the viewer is looking into the magicians private, personal life and space, and witnessing an important, seminal moment in his existence, which is only being shared between him and the universe, we are simply spying in on the scene of his skill, dedication and concentration come to fruition.

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