“The present was an egg, laid by the past that had the future inside its shell.”
– Zora Neale Hurston
I was a college dropout, ergo my dazzling University educated brain doesn’t exist. However, with intuition on my side, I tend to feel around for the answers and check to see if I’m right, later. So what I’m about to say, regarding the mighty egg, might not be correct in a historical folklore context, yet rings true for my own experiences of egg symbolism.
The eggs came to me. The first egg, from my grandmother, also an artist, an Italian immigrant, born in the 1920’s, is filled with superstition and magick. Grandma decorated duck eggs when I was a child, usually with scenes of countryside life, often adorned with some reference to the holy trinity. When grandma’s eggs weren’t on display at the local garden centre, and, once, very proudly at the Cecil Higgins Museum, she sat them on cheap, gilt-covered thrones, placed in her Edwardian wunderkammer.
I wasn’t allowed to handle the eggs until I stopped playing with muddy worms, sticky-fingered from rotten garden apples. On my eighteenth birthday, I was given my very own duck egg, decorated with fuchsia and bumblebees. Different from the ones she usually painted, more occult, more meaningful somehow. It became a powerful object.
Around the same time, my great uncle, Kazik, arch enemy of my grandmother, gave me a child sized decorated enamel egg from a visit to Poland – certainly a coincidence. It was his first time abroad since coming to England after taking part in the liberation of Dachau. The eggs turned heavy then, both literally, compared to the hand-painted duck egg, this weighed a tonne, but also heavy in the sense of their potency. Not only the symbol of new beginnings, eggs held it all: secrets, birth and rebirth, nostalgia, the past, present and future, to act as a celebration and also a warning, to remind you to live, and that you will die.
Behold, this revelation set me on another trajectory. I was in my early twenties, with no ability to naturally astrally project, I dabbled in the engineered cosmic, purchased from a true hippy burn-out, a market trader in a market town. Egg visions became a common visual hallucination for me. The world took on a different likeness, I saw it in another unrecognisable form. Ever revolving doors, forever looping escalators, and eggs, coming steadily into my vision – before the first one had passed me by, the next began to take shape. It was a constant theme, regeneration of time, place and sense of self.
Into adulthood I purchased decorative eggs when I saw them. I didn’t seek them out, they always came to me. My collection is small but that’s what was intended. Ukranian pysankas, the Polish enamel egg, my grandmothers duck egg. I started to paint eggs into my art work, both in a figurative and abstract sense, to symbolise life and death, strength and fragility, and protection. Eggs in nests, eggs as body shapes, egg shaped wombs and coffins.
I’ve got a sneaking feeling that the eggs are to blame for the ‘l’appel du vide‘ type feelings which permeate my entire being – in this particular case, the destruction of fragile objects, but, in general, the compulsion to do the exact opposite of what I should be doing. It has a special place in the formation of Who I Am, both in a negative and positive sense. I’m obsessed with the ‘moment before’ and ‘moment after’, for example the fine line that defines fucking up or not fucking up a piece of art, or the bombshell that you’re about to drop to your closest friends or family, that might see them fleeing out of your life for good.
These days, my special duck egg resides in a drawer, safely away from my destructive temptation, as it always has done since it was given to me, while the other eggs sit in a little collection for people to look at, pick up and touch…hopefully to feel the magick.