About Rodford Belcher - Descriptions on some of the works
When creating the Round Owl sculpture I was trying to express a sense of wholeness through being able look back on our past with compassion, accept it and learn from it. And through this self-acceptance we stop thinking we are somehow incomplete or inadequate. Who we are is enough to be happy. We don’t need to be beautiful, a genius, rich or famous. The owl is symbolic of wisdom. We only become wise through suffering. It is round to show it is whole and complete within itself. It floats above a black nest that is empty. It doesn’t need to do anything [lay eggs] to know happiness. It already is perfect.
In a goal orientated society that honours obsessive over-achievers, is it any wonder that people feel so needy and have so many mental health issues. Around the owl is apple-tree branches in the shape of a tear [suffering]. When I chose the apple tree I was thinking of the Adam and Eve myth. Within all of us there is something that isn’t willing to sit and stagnate in the Garden of Eden and wants to feel and experience something new. It is willing to bite into the forbidden fruit no-matter how much suffering that causes. But from this act we become wise.
The base of the sculpture has four sides. The four sides are a Jungian concept of the four energies that make up the self. I have my own take on this. Eve to me is Positive Female Energy. She always wants to experience new feelings, even if negative. She tempts the Positive Male Energy [Adam] to strike out on a new adventure [bite the apple]. This energy is about achieving goals - the grass is always greener over the other side of the hill. Teenagers are great examples of this. They want to throw off the role of protected child and are drawn towards things that my cause them great suffering. For example, alcohol and drug abuse, violent behaviour and sexual experimentation.
There comes a point in a person’s life when they become disillusioned from all the endless striving and the suffering it causes. This is when the opposite two facets step in. Negative Female and Male Energy. They are the wise energies. They pull us up in life with a shock and make us look back at how we have lived. The female side cuts us off from looking to others for emotional support and happiness and makes us turn within and find that completeness within ourselves. The male side may take away material things that we think we need to be happy, for example, our job, partner, good looks or health. Within these four aspects of self there are four facets also. In my series of Young Maiden paintings I’ve tried to express different facets of Positive Female Energy.
The Hare is symbolic of vulnerability. In a harsh world we think we need to become hard and tough to our own and other people’s feelings to survive so we lose touch with our inner self. We run around looking to others to give us guidance and happiness when all we have to do is look within and we’ll find our true direction and how we feel about any situation. When someone knows and follows their heart they are the most fearless person on earth.
WOODEN YING and YANG OWLS
Ying and Yang Owls is the next step on from Round Owl. Many people are obsessed the idea that they’ll be happy when they find their soul mate. But this concept is flawed. From this sense of inadequacy and incompleteness they hope a white knight will ride into their life and they will live happily ever after. This ideal means someone doesn’t need to know themselves or do any sort of self-reflection – the other person will arrive and fix everything. But how can someone choose a good partner or even appeal to a good partner if they don’t have a good sense of themselves.
A wise person will make a wise choice for a partner. The owl is symbolic of wisdom. When it feels whole it might want to share this with another. It finds another whole person. They rotate around each other in a beautiful dance that enriches them. Both bring opposite energies to the relationship. Both have the opposite energy lying dormant within. They inspire and fan the flames of these untapped energies within the other. Four eggs lay within their nest from their fruitful union. These eggs are different facets of the four sides of self that they now can express in life.
YING and YANG OWLS
Many people are obsessed with the idea that they’ll be happy when they find their soul mate. But this concept is flawed. From a sense of inadequacy and incompleteness they hope a white knight will ride into to their life and they will live happily ever after. This means someone doesn’t need to know themselves or do any sort of self-reflection – the other person will arrive and fix everything. But how can someone choose a good partner or even appeal to a good partner if they don’t have a good sense of themselves. A wise person will make a wise choice for a partner. The owl is symbolic of wisdom. When it feels whole it might want to share this with another. It finds a whole person. They rotate around each other in a beautiful dance that enriches them. Both have the opposite energies lying dormant within. They both inspire and fan the flames of these untapped energies.
WOODEN WEDGETAIL EAGLE
At one of the hardest times of my life I was out in the WA deserts alone and I’d see wedgetail eagles. I remember one day especially. An old black male one was sitting in a small dead tree and he looked straight at me from about 20m away. I kept dreaming about that moment for quite awhile. It became a symbol to me when I needed detachment to view myself through soul or with distance. An eagle flying a kilometre up in the sky can see all with great clarity and detail down below it. Too many times in life we are too close to the problem to see it with any sort of understanding or perspective.
The eagle is standing looking left. For me, left is symbolic of soul, right is ego. On the right side of its chest it has a blazing sun with an eye within it. Eagles have eyes that can look right at the sun. They are also fearless. Many fear the bright light within them. It takes courage to view it and accept it. That the symbol is on the right side of its chest means it wants to express its heart or inner light in the real world. That takes courage.
JAM JERRUP [Vic] Pastels
A good friend of mine has a boatshed right on the beach at Lang Lang, Victoria. It looks out at French Island. Lang Lang is right next to Jam Jerrup. Everyday I would walk around to it and stand on this spit of pure white sand and watch two different tides collide. I’d be lucky to see one person per day walk by. I even remember large kangaroo tracks along the beach. I loved the mangroves there also. But I guess the Ti trees brought back memories of my childhood. I would step over a dune to silence and in amongst all the Ti trees were the most beautiful wild flowers. A small fresh water stream ran behind them and there were butterflies everywhere.
The Boatman is based on the myth of the Ferryman who helps souls when they die cross over the river Styx. Styx is the last river you cross to enter hell. It is also known as the river of hate. Beside the Boatman is an owl. If we are wise and willing to learn from past mistakes and let go of our attachments to hatred we can move to a higher path. The planet Jupiter is symbolic of following a higher path. On the front of the boat is Eos the goddess of the dawn. She symbolises The Positive Female Energy that motivates us to be open to new experiences. The Boatman symbolises intellect and awareness. Being conscious of our thoughts and actions and making wise choices. The boat is about the journey through life. The lantern in the stern is about putting light on our past.
This is the first painting of the Young Maiden series. They are all about the different facets of Positive Female Energy that is within us all. She is always open to new experiences, even if they are negative. The top part of the painting is when we journey with soul. We radiate our own inner warmth symbolised by the sun. The unicorn is purity and the owl wisdom. The young maiden wears a green dress. Green symbolises the heart. The boat has a green eye so life is seen through the viewpoint of love and compassion. The flowers in her hair are orange which is creativity, sensuality and fruitfulness. The swan represents grace. Both boats are led by grace even though one is dark and one is light.
The ego boat is only a sad reflection of the soul boat. The moon symbolises ego and is cold and dead and can only reflect the light of others. The dragon-head on the boat is about ego ideas of power which is might, fame and greed. The wolf is always hungry and on the prowl for prey. It views life through eyes of need and lack so is ruthless about satisfying its needs. The maiden has a dress made of spider webs. Spiders entangle their prey, poison them, then suck the life out of them while they are still alive. This is the negative idea of relationships. Having power over another to have your needs fulfilled. She has snakes on her head which represent attachment. The raven could easily swap with the owl. Both are wise. But the raven is about death, disease and destruction. These experiences can be life changing and rewarding or be our destruction. Both voyages through life can be rewarding to soul if we are willing to be reflective later in life.
Alice is the second painting of the Young Maiden series and is another facet of the Positive Female Energy. In her naivety and curiosity she wanders into the dark forest full of entanglements [attachments] for the unwary. She is easy prey for the wolves of life. She is like Little Red Riding Hood pointing out to the wolf dressed as her grandmother, “What big teeth she has.” Often if the innocents in life survive a relationship with a wolf they may become a wolf themselves out of bitterness and fear. The white rabbit shows us how to escape this by going down the deep dark hole within that leads to scary thoughts and feelings but also leads us away from becoming a predator and allowing us to get in touch with our feelings and intuition.
This is the third painting in the Young Maiden series. Positive Female energy can ignite the flames of passion and zest for life in the most barren landscape. Just like Spring does from the frozen wastes of winter. This can happen within us all no matter how old we are or world-weary. She makes us want to be open to new relationships even if our hearts have to bleed a bit [symbolised by the red robins nesting in her hair]. Her hair flows into a vast river. She is never stagnant and flows through life and is always open to change. The stag represents virility and the owl wisdom. She puts roots deep down into barren soil and still bears fruit in the form of orange flowers [creativity, sensuality and fruitfulness]. She does this under the dark sky lit only by the moon of ego.