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About the work

This painting is part of a series that was stimulated by the flowering of hedges of blackthorn I would see on walks with my dogs back in April. The blackthorn has a long history of associations with religion and witchcraft. It was said that the crown of thorns placed on Christ's head was a wreath of blackthorn twigs, and the tree in many cultures became a symbol of death. The long and formidable thorns were said to be used by witches to pierce the wax images of victims to whom they meant harm. In this painting a small and naked person clings to the trunk of a blackthorn tree. Large thorns can be seen projecting from the trunk and branches, and the tips of thorns can be seen projecting either side of the vulnerable body. Does this then mean that the figure, by virtue of hugging the tree, is also being pierced by thorns - a fact we cannot see, from our viewpoint, to verify? Is this an act of masochism brought on by a kind of religious fervour? The black spikiness of the tree and its potential to do harm, is contrasted with the white, delicate and beautiful flowering of its blossom. The tree presents to us a contradiction of danger, pain and death and a delicate, life-giving beauty. With this potent symbolism it is no wonder the blackthorn became the tree of the Crown of Thorns.


PublisherMichael Hayter
FramedNot included
Certificate of authenticityIncluded

About the artist

I'm primarily a figurative painter of the human condition, taken from the perspective of personal experience. Although I originally trained to be a veterinarian, I have always drawn and painted and now balance my life between these two disciplines. My work really started when, having suffered for many years with depression , I began to create from this dark space and found a rich seam of both imagery and meaning there – with all the moral and existential difficulties it presents. My childhood is a powerful influence and a rich source of material. This has led to a flowering of creativity that touches on the profound, and often religious or spiritual experiences of being human. I went to art school in London in the '90s and now have a studio at Spike Island Artspace, a world-renowned centre for contemporary art, situated in Bristol, UK Having worked in a variety of media, I'm now predominantly focuses on painting and drawing but also recently branched out into sculpture and animation. I have exhibited in London, Bristol, Bath, Cambridge, Nottingham, Bordeaux, France (2015) and Maastricht, Netherlands (2016). I have collaborated with French artist Olivier Specio on the project At Last We Fly (2015). My work is features in private collections in the UK, France, Belgium, Holland and the US.

Other work of Michael Hayter

The Poet Drinks
Painting, 59.4x84.1x0.1 cm (w/h/d)
Young Man Telling An Old Man About The World Outside
Work on paper, 21x15 cm (w/h)
Old Man, Seated
Painting, 30x30x3 cm (w/h/d)
A New Arrival
Sculpture, 150x174x80 cm (w/h/d)
Passing Consciousness
Painting, 37.6x27.5 cm (w/h)
Painting, 38x28 cm (w/h)
Soldier Smoking
Painting, 29x32x3 cm (w/h/d)
Jacob And The Angel
Work on paper, 26.8x36.1x0.1 cm (w/h/d)
Old Man Opening A Can
Work on paper, 41x56x3 cm (w/h/d)
The Boy With The Golden Crab
Painting, 12x15 cm (w/h)