Auguries of Innocence I Giclée Print
Limited Time Release Giclée Print, available June 18-25
Image Size: 6.5" x 11" Matted Size: 13.5" x 18" (Black)
Each print is Signed and Numbered by Josh Tiessen
“William Blake’s iconic poem “Auguries of Innocence” (1803) is emblematic of the Romantic period, in which nature was seen as a conduit for experiencing the sublime. I have always been mystified by the opening stanza:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
Further on in the poem, I discovered a couplet that inspired my painting:
Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly
For the Last Judgment draweth nigh
This is a stern exhortation to preserve even these tiny creatures, lest we end up on the wrong side of Judgment Day! Blake’s poem is a manifesto to wonder –– seeing grandeur in the small and innocent things of life. These themes are beautifully exemplified in the iridescent Blue Morpho Butterfly from my first painting. The black sand, forming an infinity symbol, hints at Blake’s poem about seeing the eternal in the microscopic.
I am fascinated by Japanese rock gardens, a visual reminder of the ephemerality of life. In preparation for each painting I tried my hand at making my own miniature rock garden. I can personally attest to the paradoxical challenge of raking perfect lines in the sand, only for them to be blown away the next second! This fleeting reality is reflected in the Latin American Morpho Butterfly whose lifespan is a mere 115 days!
In our world innocence seems like such a foreign concept. I see glimpses of innocence in children, but I also see it in our world’s tiniest creatures –– insects. Insects make up the largest share of species in the animal kingdom, a whopping 80%. However, insects have a major PR problem, as people often associate them with unpleasant outcomes like holes in sweaters and blankets. I hope to relay how butterflies and moths play an important role in the food chain, and in the transferring of pollen so we can have plants that provide us food to eat and oxygen to breathe [i]. I do not paint these beautiful creatures simply to entertain, à la the butterfly collecting industry. I create these paintings in an act of faith against impending extinction and a call for the conservation of innocence."
[i] A Rocha Field Notes Podcast, Ep. 1