The title ‘Play of Daniel’ refers to a particular 13th century liturgical drama, accompanied by monophonic music, which absorbed me in the 80’s.
Loosely, the biblical Daniel (known for wisdom, integrity, faith and as the interpreter of dreams) warns Belshazzar of the fall of the Babylonian Empire, to a Medo-Persian force.
This historic narrative is illustrated by the hand in the centre of the painting which points to a redemptive imaginary Jerusalem in the distance, suggesting that irrespective of defeat, the Nation will survive and rise again.
Of particular interest in relation to Women’s Day, the two looming figures in the forefront of this work raise the question of ‘Personhood’, upending stereotypical views of women. These powerful images defy historic notions of weakness or inferiority. Rooted in 19th century suffrage, my generation of liberal feminists looks to find gender equality through political and legal reform within a liberal democracy. These muscular women are not shrinking violets, rather defiant and resilient, as underscored by bright yellow, often symbolic of women’s suffrage from the 1860’s. (I have continued to use gold as well as yellow in my current practice).
Under arm hair highlights an aspect of my fellow feminist’s beliefs who, eschewing traditional imposed societal grooming rituals, called for focus beyond the body. Similarly, the central hairless figure hints at the fact that the potentiality of the mind is not gender specific. There are no borders or boundaries to our intellectual or spiritual possibilities.
As with the prophet Daniel’s dream, this painting could be seen as a redemptive clarion call to a better future for all humankind.