Celestial Dreams – Bella


Billy Shannon

Acrylic on canvas
76 x 87cm


Celestial Dreams – Bella is Billy Shannon’s painting of contemporary dancer, Bella Hood. He thinks of this painting as “Galaxies in a breath, a dance of beauty in the stars,” reflecting on Bella’s creativity and kind personality. Also when working on the Sleep series, Billy looks into what was going on with the celestial entities at the time of the birth of the sleeper. The main features directly above Bella were areas of deep space and because we can only see at the speed of light, when we look into deep space we are also looking back in time. So above Bella, we are looking at early galaxies forming. The current thought is that we are seeing as far as possible in both distance and time, about 13.8 billion years to the birth of our universe.

With the Sleep series, Billy wants to push the traditional boundaries of portraiture, creating an internal portrait, and journeying into the subject’s subconscious. Bella’s presence becomes transcendent, a fusion of human depth and stellar infinity.

The Sleep series came about via my other role as a deep tissue massage therapist for physical performers. In 2015, one of my clients wanted to know what she’d look like “through the eyes of my paintbrush”. As she was exhausted from her day’s performance work, I suggested that she have a snooze… A 90-minute massage is always the first part of each painting session, it ensures that they sleep and deepens our connection within the work. Observing the transition and contrast of these highly active, dancers and circus performers into a passive state of rest and repair, intrigues me a great deal and leads to many thoughts of the internal journeys that we all go on in sleep.”

In “Celestial Dreams – Bella,” Shannon employs a palette of deep blues and luminous golds, creating a tapestry of colour that mirrors the night sky, or a fragment and a reminder of our place in the universe – a speck of consciousness amidst a sea of dreams, an invitation to lose oneself in the contemplation of what lies beyond the waking world.

Sometime after working with Bella, Billy was fortunate enough to create a painting of Jag Popham now married to Bella, and who co-created (among many other things) KIN

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