Whispers from the beyond – my thoughts on Inspiration in art

Inspiration: what is the source of that well of joy drawn on famously by poets, painters and musicians? Inspiration is literally ‘to breathe in’, by definition from outside one’s self. Traditionally, inspiration comes from the Muse. In classical times seen as the nine fold goddesses who served as the fountain drawn upon by both scientists and artists in their creative endeavours.
‘To muse’ is to wonder, to think, to remember. We amuse ourselves with Music – her voice – and explore her creations in a museum – her temple.

In Roman times this became the Daemon, a disembodied voice who guided the work and was seen as the personal Genius behind all creativity. For the Icon painters of the Middle Ages inspiration came from God. They never claimed authorship of the paintings they made.

Today we no longer believe in spirits and other worldly voices, we are wiser and too sophisticated to believe in such things, so we claim all the rights and honours of creation for ourselves. And so we sign our works with our name. “This is mine”

Yet the Daemon lives on. When Janet and later Freud  proposed the idea of the unconscious in the nineteenth century, the voice from beyond was revived in a new form. Still she was speaking from far but not so far as before. She no longer spoke from outside us, but neither was she completely within us.

But claiming authorship for ourselves has a price. The responsibility of becoming the creative source leads often to neurosis – creative block, that mysterious fear to practice what one loves – or narcissism and the cult of personality. Both of which are the destroyers of art.

Speaking for myself, when inspiration comes, I know it is not mine. The proof of this is that she can not be willed or commanded. Often an image will come to me complete and spontaneous, sometimes unbidden. This is closer to grace than thought, closer to the heart than the mind. More of a gift than a technique. A whisper from the beyond.

Jake Baddeley

Jake Baddeley – Annunciation – oil paint on canvas – 195 x 162 cm – 2010 – check availability

Jake Baddeley – Annunciation 2 – pastel on paper – 40 x 50 cm – 2018 – check availability

The Muse

Home » Blog
The Muse - chalk on paper - 65 x 50 cm - 2018

Jake Baddeley – The Muse – chalk on paper – 65 x 50 cm – 2018 – check availability

The Muse, the traditional dispenser of inspiration, is a concept that has come down to us from classical times. In this rendition she has a rather terrifying aspect: she is both the slayer of heroes and the succour of the bereaved. The two masks complete her traditional tripartite aspect, a tradition that has been associated with the Great Goddess for thousands of years. In her hair are the snakes of Medusa, who represented the dark aspect of the triple Goddess.

I had great fun with the composition. It has an interlocked quality, fitting the figures in front and behind of eachother weaving a whole from many diverse parts. This is a trick I learnt from  studying the work of Gustav Klimt.

See more of this drawing or see all drawings

The Secret Garden

Home » Blog
Jake Baddeley - The Secret Garden - chalk on paper - 65 x 50 cm - 2018

Jake Baddeley – The Secret Garden – chalk on paper – 65 x 50 cm – 2018 – check availability

A favourite theme of classical and neoclassical painters was The Garden of the Hesperides, a mythical orchard where an apple tree or a grove grows, producing golden apples. The Hesperides were beautiful nymphs who were given the task of tending to the grove. The Olympian Goddess Hera placed in  an immortal, never-sleeping dragon to protect this secret garden.

There are many clues in this myth that suggest that the setup of this secret garden is a disguised reference to the Pole star or Polaris. The golden apples being the stars of the sky, and the dragon the constellation of Draco that surrounds Polaris.

Oddly, many heroes of various cultures have attempted to steal these golden apples including Loki from Norse mythology and Hercules/Heracles from Greek mythology.

Due to the timeless appeal of the subject and its symbolic nature, I felt drawn to make my own rendition of this myth. Here I have tried to emphasize the vulnerability of the nymphs into whose secret garden – their sacred place – a stranger has wondered.


See more of this drawing or see all drawings



Pin It on Pinterest