Heather Carol

Artist and Poet


Sexuality, signs & symbolism

NEW WORK 2017

WORK IN PROGRESS.

PRIDE FOR THE FALLEN
Egg tempera and shell gold on a traditional gesso panel.

This painting explores UK LGBTQI+ history. Within the compositon are references to those who have suffered due to their sexual orientation, such as Oscar Wilde, and significant dates relating to LGBTQI+ adversity and progress.

Shell gold is genuine powdered gold (in this case 22.9 carat) mixed with gum arabic. It is used in a similar way to watercolour, and is then burnished to create a shiny surface when dry. I use shell gold in areas where the paint layers have been cut back to the gesso layer in order to create different light and                                                                                            texture effects throughout the painting.
MYTH TO MODERN LIFE: HISTORY REPEATS.
2017. Egg tempera on a traditional gesso panel.
Image size: 51cm x 51cm

From Greek myth to modern life abuse, especially sexual abuse, has tainted society. Sexual abuse is currrently a topical subject, but it has existed over many generations in many societies. Mytths that glorify rape are widespread like the story of Callisto that inspired this image. Using the myth of Callisto as the foundation of this piece I then bought the explorations up to date with an investigation of the current sexual abuse of LGBT people, domestic and otherwise, across the globe.

This painting is was exhibited at the GFEST Arts Protest exhibition at the Menier Gallery, London. SE 1 1RU. from the 13th -18th November 2017.


Left: Heather Carol at the Private View of the GFEST Arts Protest exhibition.
Photo: Hamish Graham.

THE TANGLED WEB

2017. Egg tempera on a traditional gesso panel.

Image size: 51cm x 51cm.


This painting explores duality and deceit, and the abuse of LGBT people on the internet.  The web of communication created by technology can be a wonderful thing, but can also create opportunities for discrimination. Some can use social media sites to hide behind false profles, and some can use technology to spread messages of hate. In this painting  I have used the Coral Snake to symbolise duality. The Coral Snake has a mimic in nature - but which is harmless aand which is deadly?


This painting was exhibited at the GFEST Arts Protest exhibition at the Menier Gallery, London. SE1 1RU. from 13tth - 18th November 2017.


https://gaywisefestival.org.uk/visual-art/


HOSPITAL AND SOCIAL CARE.


In August 2016 paralysis caused by a very adverse reaction to medication caused me to spend five months in hospital, and a further few months in a nursing home. Thankfully, the paralysis eventually lifted, and I am living independently again. In January 2017 I was able to start painting again, and began to explore my experiences. I was frightened to be open about being a Lesbian while within hospital and nursing home communities, and when I was open about my sexuality I experienced Homophobia. Conversation with others suggests that discrimination of the LGBT community within social and medical care is widespread. In an exploration of my thoughts and emotions about my experiences I created a series of paintings and poems.

                                                                                          Left: Detail of THE ART OF SURVIVAL (2017).

THE CAGE OF SOCIAL PERCEPTION.

2017.  Egg tempera on a traditional gesso panel.

Image size; 40.5cm x 40.5cm.


Sectors of Society still live in the Dark Ages with some views towards  disability.  After recovering from paralysis; able to be myself and dress in my normal day clothes I found that I was shocking the care staff around me. It seems that when you are disabled you are not supposed to dress in a sexually attractive way, think of having a partner, or  (shock, horror), have any thoughts of a sex life. This painting is my response to this sort of archaic attitude.

THE ART OF SURVIVAL

May 2017. Egg tempera on a traditional gesso panel.

Image size 16" x 16" (40.5cm x 40.5 cm).


In the summer of 2016 I was given some medication that I should not have been treated with. This caused months of paralysis and led to my lack of ability to speak.


Not surprisingly when I found that my paralysis had been medication induced (after the medication was stopped) this was something that was very difficult to deal with emotionally. I had been bed-bound as a result  of taking this medication for nine months.


I decided to explore my thoughts and emotions in my creative work, and this painting, and my poem of the same title, are the result.

THE RESTORATION OF IDENTITY   (April 2017)

Egg tempera on a traditional gesso panel. Image size 18" x 18"


When I was paralysed in hospital I also lost the ability to speak. This is still the case, and I use the written word and images to convey my thoughts and emotions.


This painting explores my rocky road to the restoration of my identity as an artist and poet, and the importance of the written word and images to me, as they are my means of communication.


The symbolism in this painting relates to the Pagan festival of the Spring Equinox. 

THE DAWN OF NEW BEGINNINGS  (March 2017)
Egg tempera on a traditional gesso panel.  Image size 18" x 18"

I am normally very open about my identity as a Lesbian artist and poet.

However, while I was in hospital I was bed-bound. Listening to various social attitudes while in the busy hospital ward I felt too vulnerable to be open about my sexuality.

This painting explores my journey from hiding my sexual identity through fear, to being able to be my true self again.

The symbolism within this painting is derived from the Pagan festival of Imbolc. This festival celebrates the end of winter.


2016


The paintings in this gallery are inspired by literature, symbolism and mythology. Most of these images also explore sexuality, gender and identity, especially current social perceptions of Lesbians and disability. I am fascinated by the way that cultures communicate messages through signs and symbols and I include a number of different signs and symbols in my paintings.





Left: Detail from Journey of a May Femme.

CARPE DIEM

2016. Egg tempera on a traditional gesso panel. Image size 52cm x 52cm.


This painting was inspired by the words of the ancient Roman poet Horace (Odes 1:13).

I have bought Horace's message up to date and can best sum up the meaning of this painting in my own poem:


        CARPE DIEM


Time races. We cannot pause it.

All march to Mortality's drum.

Societies compose cultural beats,

despising all whose dance doesn't fit.

Why are some called scum,

if they feel music from different sheets.

                                                                                          We have a choice; to hide,

                                                                                           or to be our true self.

                                                                                           One life, as the hours tick away.

                                                                                           Have pride,

                                                                                           whether you are straight, bi, trans, femme or gay.

                                                                                           Carpe diem; seize the day.


                                                                                            (c) Heather Carol 2016.

JOURNEY OF A MAY FEMME


2016.  Egg tempera on a traditional gesso panel. Framed image size 49cm x 49cm


"Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it". These words by Confucius are especially true of those who identify as both disabled and LGBT+. This painting combines Celtic mythology and LGBT symbols to tell my own story. The painting explores my journey from a closeted Lesbian to the beauty and freedom of embracing my sexuality and disability. Within Celtic mythology the fox symbolises passion, the beech tree symbolises knowledge, and the birch tree symbolises renewal and new beginnings.


This painting is a runner-up in the 2016 Emerald Winter Pride Art Awards. An exhibition of featured artists, 5 finalists and 25 runners-up is being held at the Islington Arts Factory from 15th -29th April 2016.


                                                                                          www.winterprideuk.com/about-the-awards/


                                                                                          This painting is now owned by the Proud2Be group, Totnes, Devon.

                                                                                          

                                                                                          www.proud2be.co.uk

Peter Tatchell being interviewed

at the Emerald Winter Pride Art

Awards Open View.

15th April 2016.

Photo: Tania Olive

PARKLIFE

2016.  Egg tempera on a traditional gesso panel.

Image size: 40.5cm x 40.5cm.


The Olympic Park in East London and East Village are a legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games. This area of East London is changing, and growing..

This commissioned piece explores the diversity of the communities in East Village and the regeneration of  the area  as part of the 2012 Olympic legacy.

       

      

       SAPPHIC


        2016  Egg tempera on a traditional gesso panel. Image size 52cm x 52cm.


         This painting combines images from the poetry of the ancient Greek poet Sappho, with others exploring modern social perceptions of Lesbians and disability. I also invite the viewer to question cultural perceptions of beauty as a nude figure in a wheelchair is part of the composition.

           In Sappho's poetry Sparrows pull the chariots of Venus. Other images from Sappho's words that inspired this painting are apples and apple groves, roses and "muses with beautiful hair"

            

2015


BARRIERS


2015   Mixed media on a traditional gesso panel. Image size 30cm c 42cm.


A lack of social awareness and prejudice can create difficulties for people with disabilities to find friendships and partnerships. These difficulties can be compounded if the person is also LGBT+. This painting explores these barriers.


This painting was exhibited at Artpride 2015. In his review of the exhibition Edward Lucie-Smith wrote 

"There is, of course, still a necessary polemic in gay art, especially when it deals with disability. This show contains a remarkable work called Barriers, by the disabled Lesbian artist Heather Carol. But this is primarily a symbolic, poetic statement, and the basic message is not specifically LGBT. You can  construe what you see in quite a number of ways".