In its most obvious definition, poison is a chemical used to cause harm or death to another being via ingestion or injection. But there are other ways to interpret it; the word toxic is often used in the modern vernacular to describe a situation where one person can cause emotional damage to another. Manipulation and mind games can be equally as damaging, causing mental health issues, putting someone into harm’s way and, in some cases, death.
Alchemists and Alchemy
My fascination for witches and everything that the word witch encompasses is far too complex to cover in one small blog post. The word witch is problematic and tangled – it covers myriad archetypes and magic creatures. But the umbrella understanding of witch as a strong female figure, intelligent and knowledgeable, taking back the power that was taken from her ancestors is very much a concept I want to convey with my witch art.
Painting my second Klimp tribute, Medicine, gave me a thirst for more mystical women, particularly alchemists. This kind of leads into the witchcraft aspect of my work – historically, women who knew properties of plants and power of poisons were seen as witches, and suffered the consequence of that ignorance. Women weren’t supposed to wield any power in those dark times and medical issues had been placed into the hands of men.
So my painting, Medicine, is laced with symbolism taken from Klimt’s painting and the old timey medical profession.
Poison and Antidote
Poison was the antithesis of Medicine – while it is also peppered with symbolism, these are of a more sinister nature. My young alchemist stands holding a wine glass of pale green liquid, the same colour as her eyes, in a tangle of crooked fingers. She is topless, not hiding the fact that she wants to be alluring. She has a human tooth on a chain around her neck, and its size in proportion to the alchemist suggests that she is a small, slight person, giving her an otherworldly feel – almost elfin. Her face has a wry smile, but unlike my Japanese Mage painting, Psyche, her expression is not one of knowing, but of temptation.
In poison, there is a shimmering slate blue curtain behind her and what hides behind that is entirely up to your imagination – there is a hint, though, as it is pulled to one side to reveal glowing green eyes. Around the alchemist’s waist is a belly dancing sarong with bells, adding to the overall atmosphere of bewitchment.
The meaning of the title, Poison, though, is very much left open to interpretation. Is the alchemist holding poison, or is she toxic herself? Is there poison hidden behind the curtain, or is it simply the name of the creature skulking in the shadows behind her? If she is offering poison in a wine glass, that is a story in its own right. However you see it, this isn’t just an erotic painting of an objectified woman – she is in control of this situation and the receiver of whatever poison she offers is powerless to resist.
Purchasing and Prints
The original alchemy painting, Poison, is available in my shop and you can also get your mitts on prints, merchandise and downloads. Saatchi is your best bet for luxury canvas and framed prints, whereas Redbubble absolutely nail merchandise like clothing, stationery and home decor, as well as more budget prints and greetings cards. You can also download hi-res, print ready versions of this piece from the shop and make your own prints in as many formats as you like.
The original painting is available on the website.
It’s also available in all kinds of printing formats and across all clothing and home decor products on Redbubble.
Luxury framed or canvas prints are available from Saatchi.