© 2016 Sally Spencer

Created by Gympie Graphics

Ark

ARK is the artist's response to the world around and within her : climate change, water issues, memories of a flood; a flood that resides deep in our unconscious and  manifests in daily rhetoric metaphorically, to describe a crisis of existence.

 The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest stories in the world; it was inscribed onto clay tablets in cuneiform, nearly 5000 years ago in Mesopotamia. Gilgamesh was king of Uruk, one of the first cities of history, and was responsible for building the city walls from huge blocks of building stone. Uruk was situated in modern day Iraq. An important 'wisdom' inserted into the Epic was the flood story told by Uta-napishti (known in the Judeo-Christian tradition as Noah) when Gilgamesh goes out in search of everlasting life after the death of a dear friend. That his search ends in failure, because only gods are immortal, makes Gilgamesh the first tragic but human hero of world literature. The terrors that Gilgamesh endures on his quest re-emerge in classical literature and medieval art. He is the first hero of Western literature, embodying all the virtues we associate with heroes and is usually depicted with a lion. The Mesopotamians were the first people to describe a terrible place called hell.

 

Sally has always drawn inspiration from the ancient world, in particular the Eastern Mediterranean area. The form that the work takes is Sally's response to Sumerian, Hittite and Assyrian imagery that she has studied. Stories of a flood are common to  many civilizations and our knowledge of irrigation comes from the Sumerians. The flood is part of our race memory or collective unconscious and lends itself to interpretation on a local or universal level.

 

ARK is a moon and sea symbol and usually portrayed as crescent shaped. It is the feminine principle, regeneration, the ship of destiny, preservation. The Old Testament ark built by Noah, carried men, women and animals: the elements of life, continuity and stability.

Much of the installation is made from clay, the stuff of earth, which seems appropriate for the project. Some of the imagery is taken from small cylinder seals used to stamp clay and illustrate the raw and ragged ends of existence in their tales of men and gods.