Regions of the Heavens 2: A Helpless Longing

Deborah Milligan

Briagolong, Australia

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Artist's Description

Oil on canvas with cotton stitching. 1m x 1m

Original $950 (or $2,500 for the series of three) + p&p

I am intrigued by the slippage where science and spirituality touch: those points of similarity and difference where theories rub up against each other and cause a bit of friction. The beautifully broad scope of the Regions of the Heavens exhibition presents me with an opportunity to focus my attention there.

Regions of the Heavens II: A Helpless Longing looks at one of the points where science and religion touch. It talks of a more active engagement, a greater desire to explain and understand. Its initial inspiration is a quote from George Bernard Shaw:

To me the sole hope of human salvation lies in teaching Man to regard himself as an experiment in the realisation of God …… He must regard God as a helpless Longing, which Longed him into existence by its desperate need for an executive organ.

There are other concepts at play in this work too. One is the Thread of Life which weaves through many archetypal stories. Each night Penelope, Odysseus’s wife, unmade her day’s weaving rather than cut the thread that symbolised her husband’ life. In A Helpless Longing the thread itself is symbolic, not just the form that the thread takes.

The form however also references the Lattice of Life: that cosmic matter that connects all aspects of the Universe. The threads in the lattice are carriers of matter, energy and thought, and have been described as ‘non-time, non-space grooves in which life will eventually run’. According to this theory the gaps between the strings are vital: between the strings there is nothing, nothing at all. Is this the ‘pause between the breaths’ of Hinduism? The ‘space between the atoms’? Some physicists theorise that, at a sub-atomic level, space has a foam-like substance, which has a certain synchronicity with the Lattice Theory. Ian Pullen from the Theosophical Society states:

Science is generally logical until it gets down to sub-atomic levels and the idiosyncrasies of Quantum Theory. Down amongst the muons and quarks of this universe, all sorts of peculiar and illogical things happen. Particles can be in two places at once; they can also ‘communicate’ with each other and seem able to foretell the future.

I like the friction between all these thoughts: the helpless longing, the thread of life, the Lattice theory and Quantum theory. These concepts don’t sit comfortably together, there are broken lines and unanswered questions, leaps of faith – to me this expresses the mystery of life.

Placed in the Top 10 of Hypothesis challenge Sept 2010

Featured in Remodernist Painters November 2010

Artwork Comments

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