Pastels & Guache, Graphite & Pen
594 mm x 841 mm
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY
The concept for this piece was inspired by the poem Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelly and a massive ancient Egyptian sculptural head of what is believed to be Ramses the Great at the British Museum. This developed into a larger allegorical exploring the ancient Egyptian concept of death and eternal life, where by remembering their Pharos name would guarantee the continued existence of his immortal being.
The components and subject matter of this work are as follows.
The central statue of Ramses the Great – This colossal statue still stands at Karnack in Egypt. It has survived for thousands of years and is an idealised representation of the enduring power and nature of Ramses, the Greatest of all Pharaohs. It was believed that part of the pharaoh’s spirit could reside in his image.
The Pillars - The Pillars represent the sustaining power of the Pharaoh. He supported and held Egyptian society together. He was responsible for upholding cosmic order.
“Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelly – Ozymandias is a partial translation of Ramses throne name. This poem deals with the temporal nature of power and empire, its words echoed in the eroded statue of Ramses. It characterises the earthly and mortal world on the left and connects with the image of the God Horus directly below the poem.
The falcon headed god Horus – Horus ruled the mortal world and the Pharaoh in life was the living embodiment of this god. His divine power over the mortal world was absolute.
Hieroglyphic text – This is a payer from the Egyptian book of the dead and praised the God Osiris directly below it. It represents the world of the dead on the right side.
Osiris god of the dead – Osiris ruled the afterlife and when the Pharaoh died his spirit travelled to be reunited with his eternal personification of Osiris. Even in death the divine power of the Pharaoh continued to support his people.
Cobra design decoration – The cobra was a powerful emblem of protection for the Pharos of Ancient Egypt.
Ramses cartouche – The cartouche at the feet of the statue name Ramses the Great. By preserving his name his spirit continues and is maintained.
Winged Scarab – This was a symbol of resurrection, rebirth and renewal.
The Orion constellation – The realm of the gods was seen in the celestial night sky. The Osiris constellation is in our Orion constellation and this is where the pharaoh in his divine form of Osiris resides for all eternity.