CLOCK number six has been drawn from the hat, and with it a hand of tarot cards. This commission was a little bit of magic for Allegra Smith who asked for a clock with sprinklings of gypsies, of tarot cards and Egyptians, and a suspicion of a well loved cat.
I had a deck of tarot cards when I was young but have never known a great deal about the history and meanings behind the tarot, so for this clock I read a little and learned of the history of the iconography and significances. The early tarot decks are delightful, mostly woodblock printed and hand coloured. For more delvings into the history of these 78 images, I recommend this excellent tarot history site.
As this is to be a gift from Allegra to her beloved, a gift of time for someone whose time may be short, I chose the ace of coins for an important or valuable gift, the hermit for time and triumph over it, and the star for hope and rejuvenation. I hope that this little painted "spell" will wend its way over the ocean and be enjoyed by the recipients. The cat is a sphinxy version of their own cat, and time ticks around the Egyptian coin and over a broken palette of ochre-sand and azure sea-browns.
I so enjoyed my explorations into the history of the tarot that I am inspired to illustrate a whole deck. I like symbolic imagery with a central figure and text surrounding it; I like the characters that appear amongst the cards: Hermit, Fool, Magician; and I like collections of symbols: zodiacs, alphabets, calendars... This, of course, will be a job for another day.. another year!