Geraldine Thompson’s response to the Tom Wood portrait of Arthur Haig

I was interested in depicting a consideration and contemplation of the transience of life and the effects of the loss of a loved one.

Tom Wood’s portrait of Arthur Haigh which includes symbolism and visual narrative influenced my approach to my painting titled “Saying Goodbye”.

The unusual square composition in portraiture creates a diagonal axis of symmetry, a compact format which gives a sense of peace, stillness, serenity, calm and dignity. The full-on face is intended to be a direct depiction of the subject’s honesty, truthfulness and a true inner essence. 

The symbolism I selected was informed by the American astronomer Carl Sagan who wrote in 1973:

“All of the rocky and metallic material we stand on, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes, were produced billions of years ago in the interior of a red giant star. We are made of star-stuff.”

Our associations are elemental.

So with the symbolism I’ve attempted to imply a yearning to merge and reconnect by incorporating references to those four basic elements of our DNA uniting us to one another, which are carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen.

Gold, the carbon, represents indestructibility, value, a reflector of light a generosity of giving and often a symbol of precious undying love; hydrogen is in our fluidity; nitrogen in our bones and oxygen in the breath of life itself. The White lilies, Lilium longiflorum, often called the Easter Lily are known for their reference to grief, mourning and a call for peace and serenity. They also portray devotion, purity and love. More poignantly, they depict the rejuvenation of the soul. 

To view Tom Wood’s painting, click this link: