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Circle of Life Renewing--Hagar Qim

Dreamed l998/9/26 and 10/26; painted 1999, acrylic, 60” x 49” by Jenny Badger Sultan

THE PAINTING

The structure came from a photo of a temple in Malta, where I travelled in 1998 and 1999. I began working on the surface experimentally, using many methods--painting on duralene or plastic and pressing it on the canvas, monoprinting, resist, stamping with seaweed, corks, string dipped in color. I also began painting gestural marks and then washing them off, leaving traces. I felt as if I was creating a layer of fossils and artifacts, inspired by the limestone of the Maltese temples which contains many fossils. Then the imagery began to come in. Two main dreams are here:

Acrylic painting, 'Circle of Life Renewing--Hagar Qim', by Jenny Badger Sult6an. Under a stone arch, a woman holds a tiny rabbit. More women sleep amid rocks covered in pictographs. Click to enlarge.
Detail of 'Circle of Life Renewing--Hagar Qim' painted by Jenny Badger Sultan: a woman dancing.

1: DANCING
dreamed Sept. 26, 1998

I am in an outdoor patio-garden area. People are socializing. I am dancing around the garden--doing a sort of polka 2-step. I dance on whatever surface is there--bench, path, table. On and on, round and round. I am dancing near plants--some in pots. Sometimes I have to go very close, the way is crowded, and I dislodge a piece of a plant--some scented geranium, for example.

Round and round I go with energy and fast footwork. People are kind of amazed. Finally I make my last circuit and stop. I tell people "No, that’s it."

2: PEGGY CALLAHAN
dreamed October 26, 1998

I am at a gathering. Linda MacDonald is here. She is wearing a quilted robe in a red and white pattern. People show off other pieces of fabric they have bought, and talk about them. It's as if we're all on a trip to a region with very interesting ethnic fabrics. Detail of painting titled 'Circle of Life Renewing--Hagar Qim', by Jenny Badger Sultan: a woman holding a tiny rabbit.

Someone (Linda?) asks me "Do you like this one better than that one?"

I say "I can't really rank them like that--I like both. Besides, I couldn't tell anyone 'Buy this one or that one for me,' because I wouldn't know what would be available at a given time."

Peggy is here too. But she is a cake, a cake in the form of a white rabbit which I am holding in my hands--about 1/4 the size of my cat, Carrot. Peggy has her own look also, sweet-faced and smiling. She has evidently been responding to treatment; she looks healthy. I tell her how amazed and happy I am to see her and how glad I am she is doing well.

Then I begin to eat Peggy--in her guise as a rabbit-shaped frosted cake. I start with her body, taking bites. She is still talking as I gnaw at her.

The hardest part is to take bites of her face. I kind of peck at her head and face, one bite at a time. It is so hard, and I feel repulsed by myself...

...but I keep going.


NOTE

My friend Peggy had died a few months before I had this dream. The image of eating the Peggy rabbit-cake was upsetting to me at first. As I thought more about it, I thought of it as representing the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. I also associated it with the eucharist, partaking of the bread and wine at Communion. All around the world rabbits are associated with the moon and the mother goddess, fertility and rebirth.

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