Sunday, September 21, 2008
The original “Memento Mori” paintings were also known as “Vanitas” (from the Biblical quote, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.” They were intended to be a reminder that all the glories and riches of this world are transitory, and so you should prepare yourself for death and the after-life to come.
One day I was discussing still-life paintings with a class and made a reference to “Vanitas” paintings. To make it more relevant to them, I made a point that the same idea could be applied to any point of transition, such as from school life, as a pupil, to independent life, as an adult. A still-life life along these lines could comprise items such as school books, uniform, awards for achievement at school, etc. The intention of the painting would be to point out that,eventually, all the things to to with school would be behind them and there is a life as an adult to look forward to.
Having now left my teaching career behind me, I decided to apply the same idea to my own life. This “Memento Mori” is thus about the “death” of my own teaching career and a reminder that the things that I thought of as important then are now behind me and that I should look forward to my new career as an independent artist. It is not all negative though, as it is also a celebration of many things that I achieved as a teacher and of the excellent work produced by many of my pupils.