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  • Writer's pictureKarly Michelle

Lifting the Vale

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

'Lifting the Vale'

Tulle on Plaster mask

On display at Chapel on Station Gallery Box Hill from Friday 5th Sep to 17th Sep

as part of their 2014 Religious Art Prize with the theme 'Through a Glass Darkly'

My artists Statement

It always takes me a while to write up something that I'm even really remotely happy with. I think because I need time to reflect on the finished product, not just on the process. Anyway, this is where I am at, at the moment.

Does the veil protect us from that which is around us or does it keep us contained within ourselves? Does it stop us from seeing out properly or from others seeing in?

Veil or vale - one reason for the choice is simply I quite like ‘vale’ and it was what I instinctively wrote down first. As I thought about it a bit more and looked into it, I also saw that it has traditionally been used in the phrase ‘vale of tears’ and from the Latin means ‘farewell’. And a vale, or rather, valley is a place that can both protect and harm us. From the wind and storms high up in the mountains, the valley can protect, but also can quickly fill up with water, destroying everything in its path.

The material on the plaster face could be seen as a ‘vale of tears’ quite easily and is an idea close to where the work originally came from - a place of uncertainty and vulnerability which is often accompanied by tears as our physical bodies try to come to terms with what is happening.

Vale as ‘farewell’ - ‘Lifting the Vale’ also has something to do with looking forward to the moment when life is truly revealed -something I believe only God can do, but it seems that this most likely to come to pass only once deceased. This is a difficult thought and I foresee many years continuing to wrestle with the idea of death. The theme ‘Through a Glass Dimly’ made me think about it quite a lot though - about how now, in this life, I think we can only see things dimly, that it will not be until the afterlife, an eternal life, that we will truly be able to understand and to ‘see’. What will be different? What was just our ignorance in how we 'saw' and understood? How much brighter will be the colours be?

What is it that that we can ‘see’ now? What is it that we miss? Over time can we get rid of a layer to see a little more clearly, or maybe change our position to see through the gaps? Maybe light can be shone at a different angle to give us a better view?

My other thought while making this was around the idea that sometimes we become overly attached to things that are not the best for us. I don’t think that not being able to see this life clearly was the original intention. However I also think that not being able to see clearly can sometimes become a safety crutch - our safety blanket, our excuse, something behind which we can hide instead of continuing to strain to see more clearly, even in the knowledge that this may not be fully achieved.

And so, for some reason ‘vale’ not veil continued to feel most appropriate. Maybe it was just me making a mistake. But it grew on me and I began to slowly understand it a bit more and see just how appropriate it is (it can take a while for me to understand my own decisions). Or maybe it is a happy accident.

A couple more photos on flickr

Chapel on Station Gallery 2014 Religious Art Prize

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