I didn’t know how I was going to follow Benedict (as I like to call him), but I can’t worry about that or I’d never make anything new.
Honestly this was another very personal choice of subject though. I wanted to make a small brown alligator because I was told one showed up as a sort of personal guardian for me in a guided meditation healing session I had a while ago. True story.
So, the themes of personal pantheon, animal divinity, the intersection of the holiness of nature and her characters with the real ‘mythology’ of these species’ decline and end-stories. Emerging.
So I dived deep into the ancient mysteries of alligators and crocodiles. I had a great time.
The joy of texture.
I’m definitely comfortable in my current method of fabric collage as underpainting.
Obviously being a reptile it’s a gift to texture.
I was really into this blanket stitch over scrim to create the scaliness.
Each one of her big scales were padded velvet.
I started experimenting with folded sequins at this point, to define some lines.
I mean I was really in love with my work at this point. Using all the colours and textures and embellishments – it felt like I’d given myself permission to choose a subject where I could indulge in all the sweets in the shop.
I used these fully round sequins here, like little bumps, which, when catching the light, gives this ‘crowned in starlight’ sort of effect which I was very happy with.
For the teeth I glued gilding flake to cotton and cut out the shapes I wanted, before stitching down.
Finally the eye: the worst bit.
I ripped out and re-did this bit so many times and I still wasn’t all that convinced by it. Eyes are hard.
And finally, her halo.
Maybe only 100 Chinese alligator individuals remain. Genetic evidence suggests she split from her American sister around 40 million years ago and, together, the alligators split from all other living creatures around the same time as the extinction of their close relatives, the dinosaurs.
In mythology the alligator is a liminal God creature. The great primal mother, and destroyer. The fierce light of the sun and the oblivion of eternal night. A gatekeeper between worlds.
“Lord of the fertile waters from which it hunts and mates, the crocodile emerges from the water to nest and bask, and like the sun shaking off the dark wetness of night, embodies the rebirth of the light and the ascendance and ferocity of the solar.”
From The Book of Symbols.
I have 2 giclee artist’s proofs available of this piece, with hand-gilded teeth, in my shop right now, along with other limited edition prints of this year’s work.