The raven (Corvus corax) is a large species of crow. They are often associated with death and loss, but as they are long-lived and immensely intelligent birds the characteristics of prophecy and wisdom have been attributed to them by human cultures. Consequently, the raven has a long history in folklore and literature. For example, ravens appear in Greco-Roman, Persian, Christian, Pacific NorthWest and Norse mythology and more. Read more.
In 1845, Edgar Allan Poe published his massively popular narrative poem ‘The Raven’, in which an insistent bird keeps saying “Nevermore”. Like parrots, raven can be taught to ‘speak’. The text “Quoth the Raven ‘Nevermore'” is a line from Poe’s poem.
I had the idea to paint a Nevermore raven as I – and many others – have no wish to return to the insane consumerism and unsustainability of the pre-Covid world. Lockdown showed us that we can live perfectly well by working at home, travelling less, and consuming less ‘stuff’. During lockdown, nature was given a chance to inhabit the space usually dominated by people – for example, dolphins were seen in the canals of Venice!
I used the celtic knot not only as visual reference to cultural history, but to illustrate that all life is interdependent and interwoven. I used motifs from the Lindisfarne gospels. Within the celtic knot, and among the stylised monastic birds, I have painted three extinct birds – the dodo, the great auk, and the passenger pigeon – all of which succumbed to human persecution. Gone forever, nevermore can we hear their song. They can’t ‘quoth’ anything.
The bird standing immediately above the M and O of Nevermore is a reference to Paul Gauguin’s 1897 painting ‘Nevermore’.
I’m sure you will find other cultural references in there too….
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