ASHES AND EARTH

Paintings by Carolyn Hillyer

These four women embody some of the physical, emotional and mystical aspects of a journey inside and around the perimeters of death. They are midwives of dying and bereavement; of lament and funerary ritual; of hope and the restoration of life. With their bodies these women form gateways into the silent lands, a hidden landscape where the dead journey onwards and the bereaved wander through the chaotic anguish of mourning. They embrace the magnitude and subtleties of death, all the grief, struggle, brutality, fear, disconnection, yearning, wonder, revelation, release and kindness to be found in the silent lands… as well as an extraordinary stark and exquisite beauty. They are shaped by the four aspects of the moon (red, white, black and unseen) as she moves through her constant journey, a rhythmic ebb and flow that informs our understanding and enriches our experience of changing, ageing and the turns of life. Around the circle road, death is of course not the end but the prelude to a new beginning that in turn journeys towards another death. So our moon holds light and dark continually at play. We are not witness to a more profound enactment of the mysteries of disintegration, death, rest and restoration. With every cycle the dark inhabits the moon, and each time out of darkness swells the powerful light. These women stand on the circle road, custodians of non-linear time and catalysts through which change creeps and crashes.

This series was painted between 2006-2008 then exhibited as installations between 2008-2014. The album CAVE OF ELDERS, although not recorded specifically for this cycle of work, is a good soundtrack to a journey with these women. The original paintings are 7 ft/210 cms high x 3 ft/90 cms wide, acryllic on board with printed linen text. The prints are on A4 (31×21 cms) heavy art card.

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