Wiping the Image: Many artists will be familiar with the process of re-working a painting that has dried. Applying later layers can lead to cracks forming in the paint surface and the painting can begin to crumble. The alternative is to work wet-on-wet, where fresh paint is applied on top of the still-wet paint below. This technique generally delivers a satisfactory finish. What I wanted to see was whether by removing recently-applied layers using a paint-thinning agent, the underlying image might reveal itself in an uncontrolled manner, where the ‘ghost’ of the image would remain after the covering layers had been removed.
The Shroud of Turin: This appears to be a woven cloth, linen-like, that contains an image that can barely be distinguished in normal light. The image can really only be properly observed under X-Ray and it reveals a heavily bearded man with a prominent brow and nose. This is also like the ghost of an image, we know that it is there but can barely see it in normal light.
Thoughts Arising: The quest over the past three years became an exercise to see if it might be possible to create a painting that looked, upon first viewing, as a plain piece of old cloth, but that, when observed more closely, would reveal an image that would seem to have formed of itself, without it showing the means of its creation. The process also has its parallels with both the light staining on the ancient shroud, the idea of an image forming naturally but mysteriously, and the idea of a Christ who is simultaneously both present and not present, visible and invisible.
It is also maybe worth mentioning the mental condition that is classified as Prosopagnosia, where people cannot remember faces. Sometimes, when we wish to remember somebody it can be difficult to form a precise image from memory. It seems that the difficulty can often be proportional to the significance to us of the person whose features we cannot re-assemble satisfactorily. Perhaps this is the way that people approach the Shroud image, hoping to try to envisage a concrete image of Christ from the indistinct clues that reside in the cloth. And we can see many derivative artworks that portray a graphic image but it might be more realistic to have only a faint image, a clouded image, reflecting our inability to actually ‘see’ the face of Christ.