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Launch of ‘Planets. The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis’

Michael Ward, Rose Strang. Demarco Gallery at Summerhall (photo Fernanda Zei)

Richard Demarco. Michael Ward. Main Hall, Summerhall (photo Adam Brewster)

The launch of ‘The Planets. The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis’ was a great success and very enjoyable indeed!

The exhibition continues until Sunday the 22nd September and is open daily from 1 to 6pm at the Demarco Galleries, Summerhall.

Associated Events:

On Saturday 21st, from 3 to 5pm, there will be an associated event in the gallery space, featuring an animation by Adam Brewster, which very poetically captures the idea of changing planetary influence according to the Medieval cosmos and the imagination of C.S. Lewis. This will be followed by a moving excerpt from ‘The Last Battle’ by C.S. Lewis: ‘Night falls on Narnia’, read by Dr Charles Stephens. The event will round off with a cello performance in response to this excerpt from ‘The Last Battle’, by cellist/composer Atzi Muramatsu, with whom I’ve had the pleasure to collaborate since 2013.

It was a pleasure to finally meet Dr Michael Ward, author of Planet Narnia. The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis.

It’s always interesting to meet someone whose work you admire;  a bonus if you enjoy their company too! Michael really added towards making the event relaxed and good-humoured –  friends and family and all there including myself enjoyed meeting him.

Although Michael Ward’s ideas on the Narniad can be summarised in a few phrases on one level, it’s a complex subject that benefits most from in-depth reading around the ideas. Readers of this blog will have learned some of the concepts expressed in ‘Planet Narnia’ here, but Michael Ward’s talk on Thursday demonstrated how much more effective it is to actually hear Michael talk about it – far more entertaining!

 

 

 

 

The talk was fascinating and sparked a range of interesting questions afterwards. I heard first-hand from several friends how intrigued they were by the subject, and that they’ll be reading more about it, so I hope that leads to more sales of ‘Planet Narnia’.

There was discussion of a potential follow-on exhibition in Oxford, so fingers crossed that will find a way to go ahead next year.

Michael Ward. Fernanda Zei. (Photo Rose Strang)

I was very moved by the attention to detail by exhibition curator Fernanda Zei, who understood the themes and visual aesthetics so intelligently and presented them with great sensitivity.

For me there was no doubt where I wanted to show this exhibition; Richard Demarco’s work across the decades is characterised by a search for truth, meaning and healing in the arts. I knew that Richard, Terry Anne Newman (Deputy Director of the Demarco Archive Trust) and Fernanda Zei (Demarco Trust Curator) would respond to the themes and present the exhibition with intelligence and they surpassed my expectations in that regard.

My warm thanks to Michael Ward, all at the Demarco Galleries, and to loved ones, family and friends who attended. Particular thanks and appreciation to Christine Aldred, who bought ‘Sun’!

I’ll be posting a video of the event here soon …

Demarco Gallery. (photo Adam Brewster)

 

 

Exhibition Launch!

Setting up, with Fernanda Zei and Dr Charles Stephens at the Demarco Galleries yesterday

It’s very exciting indeed to be in the final stages of setting up next week’s exhibition launch at the Demarco Gallery: The Planets. The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis

This exhibition represents almost a year of painting in response to the work of C.S. Lewis and Planet Narnia. The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis, by author Dr Michael Ward.

I’m delighted that Michael will be giving a talk as part of the exhibition launch at the Demarco Galleries, Summerhall, Edinburgh, on Thursday September 12th at 6pm. (all details on link below)

All welcome! Please R.S.V.P. on this link if you wish to attend: Exhibition Invite

Exhibition Information …

The Demarco Archive Exhibitions is presenting an exhibition of new paintings by Rose Strang from Friday 13th to Sunday 22nd of September in the ground floor of the Demarco Wing at Summerhall, Edinburgh, EH9 1PL . The exhibition will be open from 1pm to 6pm – Daily.

Rose Strang’s paintings have been inspired by Michael Ward’s book ‘Planet Narnia’, a study of C.S. Lewis’ ‘Chronicles of Narnia’.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), the author of the Narnia stories, published in the 1950s, described the seven planets of the medieval cosmos as “spiritual symbols of permanent value”. Lewis wrote a great deal about the planets in his work as scholar at the University of Oxford and then the University of Cambridge where he was Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature from 1954 to 1963. Dante and Chaucer are among the major English writers of the Middle Ages to make extensive use of the seven heavens in their poetry.

Lewis’ seven ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ are structured so as to embody and express these seven “spiritual symbols”. Michael Ward discovered this link in the course of his PhD research at the University of St Andrews. His book ‘Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis’ [Oxford University Press 2007] presents his findings, as does the BBC television documentary, ‘The Narnia Code’ [2009].

When artist Rose Strang discovered Michael Ward’s work, she was inspired by Lewis’ fascination for these seven “spiritual symbols” and decided to produce her own paintings depicting the atmosphere and influences of each planet. These paintings will now be shown in this exhibition at the Demarco Archive at Summerhall.

The Private View will be on Thursday 12th September at 6pm on the ground floor of the Demarco Wing at Summerhall and then at 6.30pm a talk by Michael Ward will take place in the Main Hall on level one at Summerhall followed by a conversation between Michael Ward and Professor Richard Demarco.

Idyllic

Adam and I painting on the beach. Photo by Euan Ferguson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I felt really lucky last week to be painting in a remote and beautiful part of the west coast with three lovely people – Donald (who organised staying at the cottage, thank you!) Adam and Euan.

Our cottage was 40 minutes walk from any roads, on the Applecross Peninsula, which has I think the most stunning views of the Cuillin in Scotland.

Also no TV, and internet connection only findable if you walked up a little hill outside the cottage. The cottage itself hasn’t been much changed since the 30s, and as you can see in photos below, the walls are festooned with art from visitors over the years (one of them was a painting I made there about ten years ago, which someone had kindly put in a clip frame!)

We all painted or took photos, so I’m treating readers of this post to a few of these, below.

I was busy painting for an upcoming exhibition in October for The Lime Tree An Ealdhain Gallery in Fortwilliam. (I’ll post more details on that soon, but in the meantime you can view the paintings in progress on this link – https://rosestrangartworks.com/gallery/ )

It was really special to spend time with folks in such a beautiful place – the lack of distractions from TV and internet made for some highly entertaining evenings, cooking, painting, listening to music, watching sheep in the garden, but mostly interesting (at times insanely ridiculous!) conversation.

Thank you Adam, Donald and Euan, for one of the loveliest holidays I’ve ever experienced!

(From left) Donald, Adam, me, Euan. Photo Adam Brewster.

Wild conditions! Photo Donald Ferguson.

Preparing paper in the sea. Photo Adam Brewster

Adam painting watercolours. Photo Rose Strang

Adam’s lovely watercolours. Rose Strang

Etching on found slate by Donald. Photo Rose Strang

Cottage. Rose Strang

Euan, Adam and Donald (playing guitar) outside the cottage. Rose Strang

Summer dress weather. Photo Adam Brewster

Cuillin across the sea. Rose Strang

Molto romantico sunset! Photo Adam Brewster

Idyllic! Photo by Donald Ferguson

 

 

Venus and Moon

‘Venus (Planets Series)’. Mixed media on 30×30 inch panel. Rose Strang 2019

‘Moon (Planets Series)’. Mixed media on 30×30 inch panel. Rose Strang 2019

Side View. ‘Venus (Planets Series)’. Mixed media on 30×30 inch panel. Rose Strang 2019

Side View. ‘Moon (Planets Series)’. Mixed media on 30×30 inch panel. Rose Strang 2019

It is a huge relief to finish the last of the Planets Series paintings – ‘Venus’ and ‘Moon’ in time for the upcoming exhibition, which takes place on September 12th this year and is hosted by the Demarco Gallery, Summerhall, Edinburgh.

All details on this link Planets Series – The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis

Michael Ward will give a talk as part of the event. The exhibition begins 6pm and the talk at 6;30pm. All welcome!  Click on link above for details.

‘Saturn’ (September ‘Planets’ exhibition 2019)

‘Saturn. Planets Series’. Oil on 30×30″ panel. Rose Strang 2019

This is the final ‘Saturn’, created for the upcoming exhibition on the 12th September this year. This one was painted purely in oils since black is such a tricky colour to work with and oil pigment has more depth of pigment and versatile texture.

This is a continuation of the Planets Series I’m creating this year, which takes inspiration from the planets as understood in Medieval cosmology, and the seven books of Narnia which were each inspired by the seven planets, as discovered by Michael Ward, author of ‘Planet Narnia’.

The exhibition launch takes place at 6pm on the 12th September at the Demarco Archives Gallery in Edinburgh’s Summerhall. (The rest of the series in progress can be viewed Here)

 

I’m particularly looking forward to the accompanying talk by Michael Ward (author of Planet Narnia. The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis) which begins at 6:30pm 12th September in the Main Hall at Summerhall, Edinburgh, as part of the exhibition launch.

Michael Ward is one of the world’s leading experts on the works of C.S. Lewis. It was his particular interest in the Narniad that led to his unique discovery that each of the Narnia Chronicles corresponds to the seven planets as understood in Medieval imagination.

Michael studied English Literature at Oxford, Theology at Cambridge, and has a PhD in Divinity from St Andrews. His PHD focused on the Narnia Chronicles, and it was during PHD research that he chanced upon the link between the books and Medieval planets. Only someone steeped in the entire works of Lewis, including Lewis’ poetry, would have recognised these associations.

Towards the end of 2018 I was exploring medieval symbology when I discovered one of Michael’s lectures on You Tube (see link below) which explored the Narnia/Medieval planets connection. Having been a Lewis aficionado since childhood I was immediately intrigued, so I ordered the book and have been attempting an artistic response ever since.

It has proved highly challenging, but I know I’ll be exploring these themes further in future. It has been richly rewarding, not just artistically but absolutely as part of exploring life’s experiences – difficult to explain why until you yourself have explored these rich associations, which reach back into pre-history in many ways, yet have contemporary and individual significance.

I never imagined I’d be delving so deep into these ideas and I’m grateful that Michael has responded so positively to the artworks, and I was of course delighted when he agreed to give the talk this September.

I was also delighted that Richard Demarco was enthusiastic about hosting the exhibition and event at his gallery in Summerhall, since Richard’s life’s work in the arts touches on many of the themes explored in this exhibition and talk (such as a non-linear concept of time, connections between the arts, sciences and faith, and ways of imagining or perceiving our experience of life).

I highly recommend watching this documentary (link below) for a taste of why it’s so fascinating as a subject. Michael Ward is an engaging and humorous speaker, and I’m sure that people from all walks of life, whether from a creative, historic, literary or theological perspective (not to mention the many people across the world who simply appreciate the Narniad as engaging and compelling stories) will really enjoy the talk this September, and I hope, the exhibition of my paintings too!

Mars and Mercury

‘Mars. Planets Series’. Mixed media on 30×30″ wood. Rose Strang 2019

‘Mercury. Planets Series’. Mixed media on 30×30 inch wood. Rose Strang 2019

Today’s large versions of the ‘Planets Series’ for the upcoming exhibition in September.

There are two ‘Planets Series’; the smaller works, which were a practice run, and the larger series which I’m calling the ‘September Planets Series’.

You can view both series on ‘Artworks’ in the menu above. (the larger series is currently in progress but there will be seven paintings).

For more details about the September 12th exhibition, and the accompanying talk by Michael Ward (author of Planet Narnia) – click Here