Back to Large Works   Prayer Wall
This large work was inspired by the Western or Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, where people insert written prayers
(as just one form of devotional expression there). The painting was constructed of 28 separate, freeform canvases mounted together to form a 'wall' approximately five and a half meters long. As one walked the length of the painting, small embedded sacred relics could be seen and touched.

Embedded Relics
From left to right:
1) A piece of orange Jerusalem stone the colour of the bedrock pavement slabs which, the archeologist told us, would have been walked upon since ancient times. I was fortunate to walk the full length of the wall deep underground, where a constant prayers vigil is held. This piece of stone is not from the underground site, but from above it, and it is a similar colour.
2) The grey/white stone is a piece of pavement stone that had broken away, not far from the wall. I included this so that people can feel the texture, which is just like that of the wall.
3) Next is a small branch picked from the herb that grows on the wall: people in Jerusalem tie their prayers onto these plants, and pick the precious leaves.
4) Finally, the most sacred relic is a tiny pebble from the wall itself. It slipped onto my prayer-paper as I inserted it. I set it against black so it could be seen. It could also be touched.

Before I gathered these relics, I was granted special permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem. The items were cleared through NZ Customs.

In painting the canvases, I used polymer resin to suggest the tactile quality of the stone in the actual Western Wall which, with Israel's heat, is worn smooth by thousands of hands, hence feeling strangely plastic. I wanted to recapture something of the awesome feeling of being at the wall and in the old city of Jerusalem, and to recreate an aspect of the spiritual experience for the thousands of people who may never travel there.

A film accompanied this artwork. It was shot with government permission, by Rick Sahar. It slowly sweeps across both the men's and the women's areas as people pray there. Thanks to David Zwartz for your helpful assistance and to Rabbi Lipman for your advice and kind contribution of the passage from the Babylonian Talmud.

Hidden Text
Prayer Wall contains five layers of hidden text and prayers, embedded by the artist. The public are invited to add another two: one physical, and one mental. The key text and Multi-faith Scripture in the hidden layers is:

'Blessings are not found in things which are weighed or measured, but only in those things which are hidden from the eye.' Babylonian Talmud; Taanif 8b

'You who pray for your fellows, while you yourself have the same need, will be answered first.' Talmud

'And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war any more.' Bible

'To pray together, in whatever tongue or ritual is the most tender union of hope and sympathy we can contract in this life.' Madame de Stael

'To be visited with blessings one must first direct one's mind wholeheartedly to prayer; to be granted divine protection one must make a foundation of honesty. In this way the person's pristine, undefiled mind will be awakened to the original, profound way.' Shinto

'I know that words of prayer which serve a good end are successful before You.' Avesta

'Would that we could pray all day, for a prayer never looses its value.' Jerusalem Talmud

'And God said to Abram: Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.' Talmud

'The Great Spirit is everywhere, hearing whatever is in our minds and hearts, and it is not necessary to speak to It in a loud voice!' Black Elk

'Call on Me and I will answer your prayer.' Quran

'Pray for one another that you may be healed.' New Testament

'You are the sole Supreme Being, of eternal manifestation; creator, immanent reality, without fear, without rancor, timeless form, un-incarnated, self existent, realized by the grace of the holy preceptor.' Adi Granth

'Just as light is diffused from a fire that is confined to one spot, so is this whole universe the diffused energy of the Supreme Being.' Vishnu Purana

'The supreme teacher so precious, the supreme protection - the precious path of Dharma, supreme guide - the precious society of practitioners, I take refuge in this triple gem.' Buddhism

'When all without is dark and former friends misprise, from them I turn to You and see love in Your eyes. When all within is dark, and I my soul despise, From me I turn to You and see love in Your eyes. When all Your face is dark, and Your just angers rise, from You I turn to You - and see love in Your eyes.'
Soloman Ibn Gabriol

'When there is but one light, all is still and dark and the solitary light looks melancholy. Soon it finds one companion, then another and another. The darkness must retreat. The light comes first to the young and the poor, then others join them who live in Justice, Truth, Liberty, Progress, Humanity and Beauty. When all the candles burn, then we must stand and rejoice over the accomplishments. And no office can be blessed more than Server of the Light.' Theodor Herzl

'I have no strategy: I make 'un-shadowed by thought' my strategy.' Bushido

'May all beings live in happiness and peace.' Buddhism & Hinduism 'The earth is God's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.' Psalm 24

'At first was neither Being or Nonbeing. There was not air nor yet sky beyond. What was its wrapping? Where? In whose protection? Was water there, unfathomable and deep? There was no death then, nor yet deathlessness: of night and day there was not any sign. The One breathed without breath, by its own impulse. Other than that was nothing else at all. Darkness was there, all wrapped around by darkness, and all was water indiscriminate. Then that which was hidden by the void, that One, emerging, stirring, through the power of ardor came to be. In the beginning Love arose, which was the primal germ cell of the mind. The Seers, searching in their hearts with wisdom, discovered the connection of Being in Nonbeing. A crosswise line cut Being from Nonbeing. What was described above it, what below? Bearers of seed there were, and mighty forces thrust from below and forward and above. Who really knows? Who can presume to tell it? Whence was it born? Whence issued this creation? Even the Gods came after its emergence. Then who can tell from whence it came to be? That out of which creation has arisen, whether it held it firm or it did not, He who surveys it in the highest heaven, He surely knows - or maybe He does not!' Rig Veda 10;129

'Blessed is the Holy One; beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and conditions that are ever spoken in this world, and say Amen!' Kaddish

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