Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Guardians

A commentary on some of my work with special reference to a sculptural group in 2009.
Myth, fairy-tale and legend form the background of a series of  works which also examines the body language of ritual.

“The Guardians” is a group of sculptural figures arranged in a circle. Currently only in model or maquette form but ideally should be life-size or even larger, possibly one and a half times this. I envisage the group placed in a  relatively remote but not inaccessible place such as a small clearing in a forest and the piece approached via a path taking an indirect route to it. See also this link.

The outer circle are a group of people with a shared understanding, or knowledge. The six who make up the majority of the group are presided over by a seventh whose hood signifies her as some form of priestess; she has the role of leader, messenger, servant and trustee of the group as need arises. She is also the collective voice or mouthpiece. Their purpose is to be a collective unity to protect a sacred truth. Hence the title, for guardians they indeed are. The kneeling figure is the stranger at the gate. The gate being the gap in the foreground of the circle as viewed here.

The Stranger at the Gate
One who approaches the circle. In a life-sized sculpture this could well be the one who visits the sculpture. Who is this stranger who approaches the circle? An uninvited stranger could be on the one hand, a chosen one for some ritual whether as prospective sacrificial victim or slave of the group while on the other hand may be a supplicant requesting help or again, may wish to become a part of the group.

The invited stranger adopts the same body language but in this case the group have need of the stranger’s services. An invited stranger may well serve the group but not necessarily become a member.

The Numbers of the Group
Seven is a magic number as is five, three and nine. An odd-numbered group has an even number of members plus one. The balance and its fulcrum. Thus an addition would create an imbalance as there would be no fulcrum figure. Three, five, seven; but what of the nine?
Nine has the potential for imbalance, - it is three times three, or thee groups of which one is the fulcrum which would be a troika. Who leads the troika? Nine is the larger number and should be the stronger with a cube root of three. So what about three? Three has one fatal flaw. The saying “Two’s company and three’s a crowd carries some merit. Two strong figures and one weak. Two for a one-to-one unity, the third is rejected or at best, sidelined.
Tolkien took this further in The Lord of the Rings:-
             “Three rings for the elven-kings under the sky,
              Three rings for the dwarf-lords in their 
                                   halls of stone,
              Three rings for all mortals doomèd  to die
              And one ring to find them and keep them as one.”

A tenth item to control the flawed thrice three. Thus we have an even number, ten, which is fatally flawed for should the stranger be malevolent, then control of the One will control the potentially unstable nine; and herein lies the irony. Darkness rising. The foundation of all good-versus-evil stories.
A small digression from this little numbers game:-
The forces of evil are numerically strong while the forces of good are numerically weak. The evil, or “dark” side soon gain the advantage but for one fatal flaw. If that tenth particle is removed  i.e. the dark side decimated, then the forces of good will prevail.
Now to look at the other numbers of five and seven.
A group of seven consists of two trios and a leader. Two’s company, three’s a crowd? Set them in a circle. Three couplets where each member compliments its opposite. Each of the opposites find stability in the fulcrum. Look for example at the Seven Sisters or the Corona Borealis. Such energy passes through the fulcrum to focus on the centre. Stone circles appear to work on this principle. This group of seven has not only a numerical stability but a sense of balance that appeals to the aesthetic felt at an instinctive level. However, such a septimal arrangement has a more inviting aesthetic where a gateway exists opposite the fulcrum where a visitor can either remain or go on to the centre.
Five is not so inviting. The five points of the pentacle have no central focal point though entry may be less daunting than its sevenfold equivalent. It begs the question, - is the energy of a pentimal formation defensive/protective? That is, is its purpose to protect those within and focus its energies on keeping malicious forces at bay while conversely, is the focus of a septimal formation in the centre energising those within?

The Human Factor
So far the numerology and geometry has been discussed to set the stage for a mythical drama. It takes the human aspect to shape events. There are those who wish to be left in peace to get on with their lives, those who will defend that right and act for the good of all and there are those who wish to have it all to themselves and control everything and everyone. Usually it is the one who seeks total control has turned away from his fellow beings and alienated him/herself. As such a one becomes more powerful, that very power has to be used to bend other’s will to this end. A titanic struggle of opposing forces ensues and (usually) it takes an innocent or naïf to be the one to tip the scales so that evil is vanquished and good prevails.

The Guardians? They stand still, and watch, and while Middle-Earth remains in harmony with itself there is no need for action.

No comments: