The idea of this work came to me from thinking about the hierarchy of birds and which species would be more likely to be witnesses to great events by virtue of their innate presence or spiritual connection. The eurasian Wryneck (Jynx Torquilla) emerged as a fascinating subject of study for a painting, and in time one worthy of capturing in the form of a traditional Russian icon.

Painting of Jynx Torquilla (Wryneck)
Jynx Torquilla

The wryneck is a truly remarkable bird. At once secretive but apparently content to be observed once encountered, with characteristic habit of crouching on the ground and a unique ability to twist and roll their neck in writhing motion if threatened. It struck me that this would also be a literal response to the presence of the Creator given the inherent subjugate nature of this behaviour.

The Wryneck is therefore depicted in the garden of Gethsemane. The presence of the Holy Spirit is revealed in the vermilion ground and the bird contorts in a metaphorical Agony to face the divine light above. Sweet chestnut leaves bend too as all nature pays homage.

This work is painted in the Novgorodian style and is the largest icon form I have painted to date.

39x46cm, painted gesso board and metal leaf