Saturday, February 23, 2013


 Cosmic Address Oil on linen 90 x 180 cm

The age-old transcultural/religious symbol of the snake [or dragon, lizard] eating its own tail is called the ouroboros. From ancient Egypt to the present day, across not only time, but cultures and religions, the image of a snake consuming its own tail, constantly renewing itself, has symbolised life and the Universe. With each era and culture, ouroboros stories and visual representations have 'spoken' meaningfully to people in the context of their social, religious, scientific and cultural milieus...their cosmology.

Contemporary signification of the ourobors as a meaningful symbol of the Universe actually comes from cosmologists, those scientists who study the Universe, its past, present and future history; its quantum and cosmic extremes.  Nobel Prize for Physics winner 1979, Prof. Sheldon Glashow first suggested the ouroborus as a visual descriptor for the relationship between the quantum and cosmic worlds. Lord Astronomer, Prof Martin Rees has also used the ouroboros for the same purpose. Plus, Prof. Joel Primack and his wife Nancy Ellen Abrams [philosopher and lawyer], also use the symbol to describe Universal scales and humanity's place within them. This article by Prof Primack explains Glashow's ouroboros and more. I highly recommend Primack and Abrams book The new Universe and The Human Future: How Shared Cosmology Could Transform The World

This article gives you a good overview of ouroboros history.

What interests me is the recurring signification of the ouroboros as a visual representation of the Universe. Art historian Aby Warburg and psychologist Carl Yung, amongst others, explored the recurring nature of symbols across time and cultures. I understand why. The uncanniness excites me, and embraces me in a sense of companionship with time and all humanity. Relationship through symbolic references, which strike resonances at a core level, promise more than we can imagine. These relationships are with ourselves, others, nations...our histories and our futures...the Universe!

 Cosmic Ouroboros Oil on linen 120 x 150 cm

Regular readers will know of my abiding interest in another age-old transcultural/religious symbol, the tree-of-life. I have been painting images, with trees-of-life, for many many years. I know the tree has a power that reaches beyond me. I know this because of the conversations I have shared with people of many religions and cultures...the tree needs no explanation, it just resonates at a seemingly core visceral level. does mirror our internal body systems!

The tree and the ouroboros have universal voices which can be heard... if we listen. Neither symbol, nor indeed other age-old symbols, succumb to fashion's insidious seduction into short term transience. Rather, they call to us from the depths of history, revealing their potency when asked...when we realise our imaginations are tired of transience. They extend their potent reach into the future as they trigger our imaginations for what might be. Their agelessness urges us to seek horizons beyond the short term, beyond the tenticles of fashion... and politics.

In all three paintings in this post I have combined the ouroboros with the tree-of-life. Yes, the snakes' bodies are trees-of-life. The snakes eat life to replenish life...symbolic of all life... 'speaking' about past, present and future...creating all dimensions...promising new horizons.

My newest painting Cosmic Address [top] suggests that an 'address' is both a place and a time. But, words such as 'place' and 'time' seem inadequate when thinking on cosmic scales. I suspect that the potency within symbols, such as the tree-of-life and the ouroboros, promises more. Are we game to expand our horizons to embrace our 'cosmic address'? Our future may depend on it!

Ouroboros Oil on linen 122 x 153
In 2009 Dr. Christine Dauber [PhD, B.A, B.A Honours [Art History] University of Queensland], wrote about my work. It must first be understood that Brimblecombe–Fox is not so much concerned with landscape painting per se, but in a Warburgian sense, searches for the universal connections, or common ground between people, races and religions. Thus, she uses the “tree of life” or “tree of knowledge” as a repetitive motif and in so doing, deploys its spiritual associations as a global referent.

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