Tuesday 2 January 2024

Stone Crown Elegy

Spray Paint, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas
70 x 50 cm
27.5 x 19.5 Inches

Jane Martyn of Athelhampton married Chidiock Tichbourne, a poet and a Catholic. Tichbourne was a conspirator in the Babington Plot of 1586 and one can imagine the conspirators secretly meeting by candlelight. So confident were they in the potential success of their plot, they even had a group portrait painted! However, their network of encrypted messages concealed in beer barrels was discovered by Walsingham, Elizabeth I’s top spy. He intercepted their messages and ensnared the treasonous parties into revealing their names. This coded letter is now safely conserved in the National Archives. With its careful folds and four hundred year old ink, it is a compelling artefact of cryptology. The letter inspires the structure of this painting and brings to mind the use of deception in war and the coded metaverse of our Digital Age. Emblazoned upon this, the stone obelisks of Francis Inigo Thomas’s Jacobean-inspired Corona Garden appear as a crown of swords, symbolic of the Tudor’s powerful reign.