Peter Denies Christ

From the 2003 Cityside Easter Art exhibition, a medieval-Celtic-influenced take on the story of the threefold betrayal. Featured in the (unreleased) documentary The Real Easter Art(ist) Thing by Gwen Strickland and Duncan Philps.

Peter kneels at the centre, weeping, in the moment when the rooster has crowed. He recalls (in the roundels) the moments leading up to this: Christ's prediction (top roundel), and the three betrayals themselves. But woven into the structure of the work are hints of the future moments when he will again affirm rather than deny his master. The fish recall for us the moment by the Sea of Galilee at the end of John's Gospel, and the roundels form an inverted cross, on which Peter died, according to tradition, having asked that he not be executed in the same way as his Lord. The keys are, of course, the traditional Keys of the Kingdom associated with Peter.

Though inspired by medieval Celtic art (particularly the Book of Kells), the painting tells a story, which medieval Celtic art typically did not do. It is laid out according to principles of sacred geometry.

The blond dreadlocks Christ is wearing are an indicator of high status. Important medieval Celts dressed their hair with lime, which bleached and matted it.

Peter Denies Christ

Peter Denies Christ (2003) by Mike Reeves-McMillan. 600 x 850mm, acrylic, gouacheĀ and metallic inks on board. Collection of the artist.

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