Mandorla Art Award 2014 – Highly Commended

Highly Commended Prize Winner #1
$5,000 non-acquisitive

The Mandorla prize awarded me a highly commended!

The theme was a biblical quote where “Elijah Meets God” (Kings 19:11b-13)

…my rationale is listed below

Many thanks for the Mandorla Art Award  !

Judges Comments:

ELIJAH MEETS GOD by stephen fearnley. photo media , pigment print on 100%cotton rag - one off ( no edition ) $2000
(taken from 1Kings 19:11b-13. ) by stephen fearnley. photo media , pigment print on 100%cotton rag – one off- no edition- $2000

About the image:

I wanted to capture the very moment when Elijah, man, intersects with God.

The key to 1Kings 19:11b-13, is Silence . After the terrible wind storm, earthquake and fire, the Lord presents to Elijah as something astonishingly different and profound : Numinous Silence.

Why have I focused on an outstretched hand ?

My rationale is that for Elijah to have had this revelatory moment with God, he’d have to have reached a level of spiritual surrender. The arm is that of an ascetic. An arm that belongs to a man who chooses spirit over the flesh. The hand is reaching upwards, full of purpose, yet it is relaxed in order to receive.

The fingers are also forming a soft, relaxed reference to the ancient oratory hand gesture (and used in Christian Byzantine art in which the first two fingers and thumb are extended and the third and fourth fingers are closing towards the palm ) signifying benediction : Elijah is seeking divine help and guidance from his travails which are many.

Bridging the Testaments:

At first I was tentative using such a strong iconic hand gesture ( thus the softening of the third and fourth finger positions ) but I wanted to bridge the old and new testaments.

Elijah is a precursor for the Christian revelation and I wanted his hand to contain a cipher for this spiritual lineage : in this case the use of the marriage finger is alluding to the covenant between god and mankind. The marriage finger is also casting a shadow to draw your attention to the centre of Elijah’s palm. Elijah is a prophet. This simple gesture is alluding to the crucifixion of Christ, thus connecting the chronological and theological relationship of the old and new testaments.

So why the LEFT hand ?

I understand the symbolic implications of right and left hands in art. I simply wanted Elijah’s ‘weakest’ hand extending to God to strengthen the theme that the revelation of Silence requires surrender, not the biggest and the best and the most favoured.

“Mystical Silence” is dynamic

Elijah is on a mountain. His outstretched arm and hand are set against a simple sky- the void. Any further complexity would would have taken away from the visual stillness and the strong verticality of the artwork. It also states that Mystical Silence is not a horizontal place – but dynamic and interactive.

Stephen Fearnley, Cloud Farm Studios,  July , 2014

Technical Notes: 

1: Although this image was post produced in photoshop the arm and hand were captured entirely in-camera :  the unique distortions being optically, not digitally manipulated. 

2: The image has been produced using the the best material. It is an archival pigment print on 100% cotton rag with archival UV polymer seal (not requiring glass/perpex for protection ). 

NOTE :The providence of this image , although digitally produced, is a one-off like an oil painting. It is not part of a print run or edition and has been made solely for the Mandorla Art Award. 

It is signed:

“ ferno ” (aka Stephen Fearnley)

One thought on “Mandorla Art Award 2014 – Highly Commended

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