Much as I love sunsets, today I have something for you to meditate upon which I think is possibly even more beautiful. Sunsets give us a vision of heaven on the infinite and eternal scale; here I can show you heaven in a wild flower, in a piece of art which enables you to hold infinity in the palm of your hand.
This is the work of my friend Tom Meek: he is the most incredibly talented heraldic artist and calligrapher, and I feel very privileged that he has allowed me to share with you this most exquisitely beautiful piece of art.
The camera and computer screen cannot actually capture the incredibly bejewelled luminosity of his work - the effect in real life is that of a medieval manuscript or book of hours, and the amazingly fine, three-dimensional detail evident in each petal or wing is flattened out on screen. A pixel is too large and coarse, too lifeless, to capture the minutely-rendered details of the creatures and flowers - this art is too alive to be reproduced properly by technology.
Tom actually uses similar materials and techniques to medieval artists, and these flowers and insects are so realistic that they almost hover above the paper, whilst the gold illuminations shimmer quite magically - they do really seem to offer a glimpse of the infinite and the eternal, all encompassed in the beauty and complexity of these natural works of art. Which, of course, was the original purpose of the medieval books of hours.
As well as pieces such as this, which are truly breathtakingly exquisite, Tom does family trees and coats of arms, and the most wonderful illuminated initials, which I think would make the perfect wedding or christening present. He works to commission so each piece is an absolute one-off. There are more pictures on his website, so go and take a look and marvel at his work, and also at the wonder and beauty inherent in the natural world from which he derives his subject matter.
If one of the purposes of art is defamiliarization, that is, encouraging you to see the world in a different way - making you look again at the familiar and everyday, and see it again through the eyes of the artist, then Tom's art certainly does that. He makes his subjects seem so intensely, wondrously beautiful that it does make you appreciate and value the world around you even more, and look at those familiar flowers and creatures with different eyes.
Have a good Sunday - I hope you, too, find some beauty in your day, and thank you, Tom, for sharing your vision of beauty with us.