More about The Journey to The West, 2018
The story of travel and migration is a subject to which I keep returning. Being a traveller myself, living in other countries amongst other cultures, I have learned to become ‘in character’ with the subject of the story, often acquiring an understanding of the eccentricities of the culture that would have certainly alluded me if I were to stay working all of the time in my own studio in Jingdezhen.
Apollo and Daphne. The story of Daphne’s flight to safety is taken from the 15th century Book of the Queen by Christine de Pizan once removed from the original, Metamorphoses by the Roman poet, Ovid, where Daphne escapes the clutches of the amorous Apollo by turning into a laurel tree. Here I have used Daphne’s plight to symbolise the flight of the Greeks and the Italians to the west to settle in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia after the devastation of World War II.
The Minotaur as a symbol of dread is challenged by the little black-footed rock wallaby, drawn from the work of 19th century, German naturalist, Ferdinand Bauer, who sailed with Captain Mathew Flinders from England and who mapped the coastline of Australia in 1801.
The Journey to the West is a famous Chinese novel published in the 16th century during the Ming dynasty and attributed to Wu Cheng’en. The cast of characters seeking enlightenment are the mischievous monkey Sun Wukong and the amorous pig Zhu Bajie. They are very flawed characters mixed up in a very convoluted storyline, and succeed in bringing grief to the priestly Xuanzang on his journey to India to bring back the sacred scriptures to China. The Journey to the West has been described thus: ‘Enduringly popular, the tale is at once a comic adventure story, a humorous satire of Chinese bureaucracy, a spring of spiritual insight, and an extended allegory in which the group of pilgrims journeys towards enlightenment by the power and virtue of cooperation.’