ART PRESS The inspiration behind this series of 12 mixed media drawings, entitled 'Talisman', is taken from the two thousand year old gnostic text, 'The Thunder, Perfect Mind', which was re-discovered in 1946. This work is a continuation of the artist's quest for the reclamation of the past, both as woman and artist.

The twelve drawings in 'Talisman' were created during the artist's convalescence after an accident, and are based upon this gnostic text which was given to Rose Garrard by a friend, and which she found particularly strengthening during that period of healing. The painting process was a gnostic one, with the artist responding purely to the mental images that appeared when meditating on the wash she had put on the pa per.

The text, which is spoken by a female voice in the first person, is that of the feminine principle within the spiritual Godhead. The work appeals to the feminine within us all, whether male or female; it is an appeal; it acknowledges the duality of the sexes, yet creatively recognises the fusion of opposites.
Jane Epstein 'Talisman', Louise Hallett Gallery, London 1988

Her hospitalisation and consequent convalescence physically prevented her from making the sort of work she had been doing prior to the accident but it also gave her the time to 'reexamine why my art had been what it was, and see how it could become something different.' The 'something different' came about partly as a result of her injuries. Confined to bed with numerous broken bones she would apply transparent washes of paint to large sheets of paper and then 'stare at them for hours and hours and these groups of figures appeared just straight from the wash.' In drawing up the images which appeared from the accidental patterns of the wash she realised that the drawings related directly to a gnostic text she had been working with, seeming to illustrate passages from it.

The Oxford Dictionary defines gnostic as 'early Christian heretics claiming knowledge of spiritual mysteries', but Rose's specific interest in them lies in their concern with the feminine God. She claims that when the male disciples formulated the bible all the female texts were literally buried. The discovery of these texts has shed new light on the history of women and given Rose the opportunity to reclaim the distant past. The resulting series of drawings, collectively entitled 'Talisman' each bear a line of the text and Rose has superimposed a trompe l'oeil painting of an object from her childhood on to the group of figures. She feels that the 'Talisman' drawings are a new departure for her and one which .she is looking forward to developing. They explore another layer of women's conditioning, one which extends back almost to the dawn of history, and which surviving evidence can only hint at. What is clear is that Rose Garrard's talent lies in her ability to deal with these issues, issues of universal importance, in such a way as to make them relevant to each of us as an individual. By reclaiming her past she provides us with a mirror in which we can examine our own conditioning and ask questions about our identity.
Bryan Edmondson 'Portrait of the Artist as a Woman' Drumcroon, Wigan Education Art Centre 1991

I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am the mother and the daughter.
I am the members of my mother.
Talisman, the leather glove of my mother.

I am the barren one
and many are her sons.
I am she whose wedding is great
and I have not taken a husband.
I am the midwife and she who does not bear.
I am the solace of my own labour pains.
Talisman, the wooden box from her father

I am the bride and the bridegroom
and it is my husband who begot me.
I am the mother of my father
and the sister of my husband
and he is my offspring.
Talisman, the embroidered shoe of a woman

I am the substance and the one who has no substance.
I am of the natures.
I am the silence that is incomprehensible
and the idea whose rememberance is frequent.
Talisman, the bronze mother and child from her parents

I am the voice whose sound is manifold
and the word whose appearance is multiple.
I am the utterance of my name.
Talisman, the seashell from her childhood

Give heed to my poverty and my wealth.
Do not be arrogant to me when I am cast out upon the earth
and you will find me in those that are to come.
And do not cast me out among those who are slain in violence.
For I, I am compassionate and I am cruel.
Talisman, the steel knife of her grandmother

In my weaknesses do not foresake me and do not be afraid of my power.
For why do you despise my fear and curse my pride?
Talisman, the wax doll from her childhood

I am she who exists in all fears
and I am the strength in trembling.
Talisman, the ceramic snake egg from herself

I am the one whom they call Life
and you have called Death.
I am the one whom they call Law
and you have called Lawlessness.
Talisman, the Mary Magdalene miniature from a stranger

I am the one whom you have scattered
and you have gathered me together.
Talisman, the opal necklace from her mother

I am control and the uncontrollable
I am the union and the dissolution
I am the abiding and the dissolving.
Talisman, the porcelain candlestick from her courtship

I prepare the bread and mind within.
I am the knowledge of my name.
I am the one who cries out, and I listen.
Talisman, the silver brooch from herself

Rose Garrard 1988
(Text derived from 'The Thunder, Perfect Mind' 1st Century AD, translated by George Macrae and Douglas Parrott, 'The Nag Hamadi Library in English', Bill Leiden 1977)

Louise Hallett Gallery London
Drumcroon Wigan Education Art Centre

Twelve monochrome drawings each containing one coloured, painted detail of an object belonging to the artist

Victoria & Albert Museum London
Henry Moore Sculpture Trust for Leeds City Art Gallery and many private collectors