The Modern Alchemist was originally inspired by a conversation about a chemistry lecturer, who was afraid of women, and his girlfriend, who had a phobia about birds. It all started as an ironic joke. The dancer is a figure from Swan Lake, a tale about a woman transformed into a swan by an evil magician. The bird headed men thronging about her are Thoth, the Egyptian god of magic, and Horus, who, in his lab coat, has become the Modern Alchemist. A smaller version of it had been created in 1984, which featured in a solo show I held at The Moray Gallery in November of the same year.
In 2013 I had this version shipped out along with 16 other art works to feature in my solo show, Dreams and Myth, which was held at Pumpkinheads Studio in Matamata. The picture is on show at The Palace Hotel in Te Aroha; where the proprietors liked it so much they want to have it!
I draw much upon the natural world, and work from life where I can. Figures appear in dream like settings – The Modern Alchemist is typical – and I owe certain influences to my art heroes Gustave Moreau, Eileen Agar, Samuel Palmer, Paul Delvaux, Harold Hitchcock and Leonora Carrington, who were inspirational lights in the French Symbolist movement, and among the English Romantics and Surrealists.
Profile of the Artist Elizabeth Barton SGFA was born in Auckland and raised on a dairy farm in Waikato. Elizabeth lives and works in Te Aroha when not travelling to the UK to work in her Sussex studio.
She has a NZ Commercial Pilot’s Licence and worked as a pilot and flight instructor in SE England until 2009 when she returned to fine art. Elizabeth studied at Dunedin School of Fine Art focussing on printmaking (1982). She has illustrated for companies including Penguin and Hodder & Stoughton.
Elizabeth’s forthcoming show The Painted Word, will be held at The Wallace Gallery in Morrinsville (NZ) from 9 April – 5 May 2015.
For more about Elizabeth’s exhibition see the Wallace Gallery website: www.morrinsvillegallery.org.nz
Further information about Elizabeth’s work can be seen at her website www.musewave.co.uk