Apr 24, 2010

Illustration Friday: Ahead ("The Head of Medusa")

"The God of Traffic Lights".

Well, I've always been fascinated by Medusa.

But why?  Why Medusa Gorgoneion?

Is it because I am a male, and the strange, alluring, dangerous female has an attraction fatale for my sex? Sirens, spiders and Medusai. Death; war; shipwrecks; blood.

Art Galleries; rushing off to see the Post Modern Modernists Expressionist Paintings' room, I often fly past ancient images of a fellow named 'Perseus' carrying some ugly head or another. Turns out that, if I'd ever stopped and taken a quick breath, I would have long ago discovered that the bloody head on the silver plate was, in fact, Medusa's. (You can see the line now, in your grade three French textbook, Arrêtez-vous, Finnie! La Tete de Medusa et sur la pleit argenté .)

Medusa of course, as every primary school boy knows, had two sisters. And the whole family had hair of entertwined snakes -venemous naturally. And each sister could turn a man to stone just by looking at him in the eye. What a family, eh?  Imagine the wild parties they must have thrown.

Not to mention the excitement of hair washing day.

Sadly for Medusa, only her two sisters, Stheno and Euryale, were immortal.

So, after wreaking a little havoc all around ancient Greece circa 490 BC (ever notice the Greeks have thousands of life like statues in odd positions?) poor old snake-haired Medusa was slain by Perseus, who, from memory, used the reflection in his bronze shield to line her up for the fatal blow. The coup de tete.

As you probably guessed, The Medusa  fits in nicely with the story of The Case Of The Fossilized Dog (see previous posts). And was kindly suggested by our well read friend LDahl  (who I see has finally come clean and revealed her secrets.)

The original inspiration from this image came from Arnold Bocklin's "Medusa" which you can see on this page. Bocklin has some amazing work, odd, spiritual and symbolistic. 

And speaking of 'odd', remind me to tell you about the bottle I found washed up on the beach last week. Inside was a neatly rolled up piece of blue notepaper. On one side of the paper was scrawled something like: 

"Help, I am imprisonned in the body
of a two year old boy.
My real name is Ghenkis Khan,
but my parents won't believe me.
Signed Tim."

'Odd' things happen in two's, not three's - have you ever noticed that?

Just the day before, while driving to work, I saw another 'odd' thing - "The Man Who Makes Traffic Lights Go".

He was in his early sixties. He had a long dirty grey beard. As he shambled along the footpath, towards the pedestrian crossing, he showed all the signs of alcohol induced neural damage. When he reached the curb, the Walk Sign was red, so he stood there wavering on his feet, gesturing shaman-like at each of the four traffic lights, one after t'other, like the conductor of a silent orchestra.

It sounds silly, but, when he waved his hands, his fingers danced like finger-puppet ballerinas.

As he stood at the curve, nodding back and forth, he flicked his wrists and splayed and pirouetted his dirty fingertips, pointing at each of the lights in turn. And when the lights changed on cue, unsurprised, he waved the traffic on with all the authority of the God of Traffic Lights.

As his hands danced through the air he had each driver waiting at the lights bewitched..... and each driver and passenger turned and watched him with admiration as they drove away.

And finally the grey haired God of The Traffic Lights flicked his fingers at his own "Don't Walk Sign".

On command it flashed green. Now it was his turn to cross. As he stumbled across the road, shambling and talking to himself, he waved on the traffic behind him with out looking back.

I peered into my rear vison mirror as I drove off and watched him as he dissappeared from sight. 

It was hard to believe, but I think The God Of Traffic Lights was heading towards the pub.

Be back in a few hours. There's lots of people I'd like to catch up with. And lots of kind comments I'd like to answer.Thanks for reading again. :) I wasn't sure about the blood. The distance betwen the eyes is a nod to the Pre- Raphaelites.


  1. Wow, this is wonderful Andrew and I love the story, well, stories to go along with it. Yep, the Medusa is excellent and totally explains the poor fossilized dog in your previous post.

  2. This is GREAT!!! GREAT!!! Did you hear? As good as the head on the avatar. Have you heard the saying quit while you're ahead? In this case it should be "quit while you're a head."


    Poor Medusa! She is a beautiful priestess in Athena's temple and gets raped by Poseidon. Look what happens. The victim gets penalized. Athena turns her into a gorgon. What's up with that? What's up with ancient Greeks worshiping rapists (Zeus and Leda)?

    This head is beautiful though.

    Don't quit with this head though.

    Keep on going!

    I feel like I am watching the making of an epic movie.

  3. Thanks Karen and Ces :) I need to practice telling my blatant lies. I mix my metaphors and hang my endings... and stuff.

    Well Ces, you are very funny. I didn't know that! Hmm, are you making that up?

    I used the trick of a wide interpupillary distance. It makes people naturally beautiful.

    Reason is it increases the base of the trigonometry triangle that we use for judging depth perception.

    So people with wide eyes can throw spears better. So they are handy to mate with cause they can catch food.

    Therefore we find them beautiful.

    Trouble is, quite often the have low push up convergence and have trouble reading. (Their eyes have further to swing to look at a word, so the extra ocular muscles get tired quickly.)

    So don't mate with one if you want after dinner conversation... :)

  4. No. I did not make that up. Later interpretations of the myths noted that Medusa who was a beautiful priestess in the temple of Athena was raped by Poseidon because he and Athena were enemies.

    You mean wide big eyes or eyes set wide apart? The eyes that are set far apart from each other may be indicative of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. So if you see people whose ayes are set wide or far apart,ask them if them mother likes or liked a snootfull when she was pregnant.

  5. J'aime beaucoup l'histoire de ce vieil homme régnant sur la circulation...! Et que dirait un coiffeur face à la chevelure de Medusa?...
    Very beautiful.

  6. She looks like Bonnie Tylor!!! Total-eclipse-of-the-heart-Bonnie. Being a lover of all things strange, you should try to get a copy of the film "The nine lives of Thomas Katz". A surreal German/British co-production about the apocalypse. It´s one of my favorites. The perfect mix of a silent-movie from the 20s and a MTV-music-video.
    And of course: your artwork is, as always, great!
    She actually looks a little bit like Uma too...

  7. Holy crud, Finnie. You near fossilized me. Watch where you wield that thing!

    Honestly, this is frightening and gorgeous at the same time. I am in awe of that beautifully complex tangle of serpents, and her eyes look so real. Yes, I was going to say Uma, too, which is funny since she played Medusa on that Percy Jackson movie. Brilliant use of snakeskin on her face!

    I want to hear more about Ghenghis Tim.

    By the way, I loved your comment on Ces's about artists communicating with the future and making people happy. Well said.

  8. Hullo Ces, Thanks for that advice. I'll be sure to ask.... FAS, for short? :)

    Martine, you are very funny. Thankyou for the comment. I'll ask my hairdresser next time if they have had any Gorgon sisters in. :)

    Hya Janne: thanks for that link, I'll check it out. Yes Uma must have a crooked face, and a long one. I never noticed that. She is good looking so maybe it's the irregularities in her head?

    Hello Mita, how are you? I changed my face so it was not upside down any more. Of course it is a bald faced lie as I picked up the photo at a market stall in Paris (near that New bridge)

    Hello Bella,

    Thanks for being so obervant. The subconjunctival haemmorage near the left limbus was just luck....

    But seriously, all I am going to leave behind is a few surfboards, a mortgage...and my art.

    So it's good to get it out there (wherever 'there' is?)

    thankyou for all your comments

    chow :)

  9. Hey buddy! This is mesmerizing!! Love the head and the snakes. I didn't know about Medusa's siters. I bet they had trouble finding a hairdresser. ...or keeping one :o) Great post!

  10. My strongest memory of Medusa was in that film, Clash of the Titans back in the 80s. Do you remember that? I was completely taken by that film, I still have it charred in the back of my head. And Medusa's beheading scene was of course by far the coolest! Though I still don't understand why my parents would even let their 6 year old kid watch a snake haired woman beheaded in the first place??! Anyhoo, your Medusa RULES!! :))

  11. That is awesome! Medusa is always a fun concept to work with.

  12. Hello, well It's flash Finnie back. Sorry I missed your comments Jack and Amalia and Barry :(

    Hah. You're right about the hairdresser Jack :)
    Amalia, thanks! I'mm off to check that movie, but first I'm going to use my phenomenal mathematical abilities to figure out how old you are. :) ;)

    Hya Barry, really enjoyed your blog with the speeding superheroes!

    see you


Hya! Thank you so much for leaving a comment. I appreciate your time and thoughts.