Earthly Delights – Lost In The Garden

Tempting Fruit (After Bosch) – 9″x12″ O/C

For the past few months I have been devouring a mountain of books and furiously planning, scheduling and scribbling in preparation for this day! June 1st marks the start of a pretty major new studio undertaking:

Over the next 6 months I will be creating a large scale triptych oil painting inspired by Hieronymous Bosch’s masterpiece, The Garden of Earthly Delights (c.1500) For this project I will be expanding upon my still life food paintings, by incorporating them into an encyclopedic larger than life triptych referencing the moralizing religious art of the Northern Renaissance.

The inspiration for this painting follows from my own experience navigating contemporary health and diet culture: I lost over 35% of my body weight to achieve a normal range BMI, then maintained that weight loss for about 2 years before beginning a period of weight cycling. Technically this is still a weight loss success story as current definitions of long term weight loss include maintaining a reduction of 10% or more initial bodyweight a year or more. However, I realized in the past couple years that keeping my weight in the normal BMI range had become a Sisyphean task requiring more and more extreme measures that have been limiting my life as well as causing a variety of physical and psychological side effects not dissimilar to those described in anorexia.

The Earthly Delights series is an exploration of that journey. As the majority of those who successfully lose weight will eventually regain it, I know I am not alone in this experience. Giving this experience a voice through my art is an opportunity to transform personal challenges into an expression and exploration that can help others understand this all to common journey freshly.

In Earthly Delights – Lost In The Garden I will be exploring the lifecycle of influences that continue to complicate our relationship with our bodies and our weight. In our post colonial culture a sense of morality has been applied to our consumption and body size since at least the 4th century BCE when gluttony was listed as one of the seven deadly sins or vices in Christian lore. The prophets of health and diet culture proclaim their one true way to attain good health, longevity, and a good life, but frequently their prescriptions are found later to damage rather than help. Too late the damage is done and the disciple is left to live with the consequence.

I welcome you to come with me on this journey through this project over the next 6 months as I share images, thoughts and process on social media, in my newsletter (Subscribe), Blog, and on my website. Together we go forth!

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.