Origin of the Milky Way, 2015

2015 oil on canvas 60 x 50ins (150 x 123cm)

The myth tells the story that Zeus, seeking to convey immortality on his son Herakles whom he had sired on Alcmene an earthly woman, put him to the breast of his sleeping wife Hera. Startled she pulled the infant away. In the process some of her milk spurted upward to create the stars while the rest fell to earth where it gave rise to lilies.<br />Some artists in the Renaissance saw the milk of the goddess as a metaphor for artistic inspiration. This gave me the idea of including a couple of the Venetian putti I’d drawn in the National Gallery shown trying to catch some of the heavenly shower. I had planned to include the Tamar landscape as a backdrop to the lilies but the too-insistent green disrupted the colour composition and so I opted for a sketch on the canvas held by one of the putti instead. In place of the missing landscape, a couple of hard edge bands of colour set against an abstracted sunset brought to mind the sea, ‘age-old symbol of the unconscious’.