Marja-Leena Rathje
Home ::: all 'Hands' up

all 'Hands' up


I recently completed editioning the last piece in the Hands series, in this format anyway. Today I put it up on the studio wall with the earlier ones. You may have seen the first six on the wall earlier. As always I like to be able to stand back and study a body of work as a whole. Ideally I would display them in a single row with more space in between so that each piece stands on its own instead of competing with its neighbours, while also being part of the large group. This image is really too small on this screen to do them justice, I know.

In a day or two, I will post the last one (top right). Please check out the Hands link to see the others individually.

Marja-Leena | 02/04/2013 | 22 comments
themes: Digital printmaking, Hands, Printworks


Isn't there some special significance to the palm of the hand?

They really are quite stunning together, much more than the sum of their parts. Beautiful work.

Like the arrangement with the center anchor pieces, and also at the ends, smaller around the middle. That gossamer leaf is beautiful, even tiny.

These are just beautiful, Marja-Leena! I really like seeing them all together, this creates a different feeling than the individual prints, more powerful and mysterious.

Hattie, the palm of the hand seems to be significant in various Asian cultures, such as in India. I wish I knew more. I had a bit of a discussion yesterday with another artist about the 'Hand with Ammonite' print, second on the top left. It made me think of one of those Asian, possibly religious, images of a palm painted with a round symbol. I wish I could describe it better and find that image. I can only find 'mehndi', the henna paintings done on women's hands, especially brides, a decorative tradition rather than religious, it seems to me. I hope I'm not being culturally insensitive here! It might have just been something from a western cult group inspired by eastern traditions.

Lucy, thank you. I'm glad it translated well in spite of this poor photo. Working in a series like this really is about the whole body of work as well as each piece.

Marly, the arrangement was actually somewhat arbitrary with the later pieces added to the sides of the first six so I'm glad it worked well. As I said, it would all look look quite different in a single row.

Beth, thank you, I'm so pleased that you see these as 'powerful and mysterious".

They make a fascinating group indeed. Perversely, of course my eye immediately went to the top right, and wondering if I had seen it. Although small, at present it has joined its neighbour below as my favourites of all.

I do hope that you can have an exhibition with them all as you would like them displayed. Good luck - they are quite something.


Why don't you arrange a world tour with hands! And not forget us, neither?

And, as you suggested, Japan at least should be included. Maybe you're thinking of it already.

Olga, yes, I suppose I'm teasing with that last one - just have been too busy lately but I'll get it up soon. I know I need to get some exhibition proposals out, not my favourite thing to do, but must as soon as I wind up my work at the studio for the summer break. Thanks for the encouragement.

Marjatta! A world tour with stops in Finland and Japan would be a dream, but financially unrealistic for me. I'll try for a local one first for it's been a while since I've had a solo.

They are lovely as a group but I wished I could have enlarged the picture. Since I've seen them individually, I'll have to be satisfied.

In regard the the hand images, I think what you've been looking for is information about the 'hamsa' hand. You do see a lot of examples in Eastern cultures, almost always as signs of dive protection.

Susan, I'm sorry that my setup here doesn't allow for larger images. Thanks for the mention of the 'hamsa', a term I didn't know. It is somewhat like the one I recall but it was not jewelry nor ornate but a real hand positioned like the one with an ammonite, with a painting on the palm. Maybe it was merely a 'western' illustration somewhere that has stuck in my mind.

I've loved a number of these individually, but together, as others have said, they add up to something else again - a satisfying, beautiful, meditative and absorbing series that I could stare at for a long time. Yes, they do need space, and to be in one long row. Just wonderful!

Jean, I'm so pleased by your response to my work, thank you!

You know, I think my favorite may be the lace leaf... Although I especially love the first one as well.

Marly, the lace leaf is very popular. By the 'first one', do you mean the 'hand with kelp'?

Interesting that Susan brought up the hamsa. So often it is portrayed with an eye in the palm, uniting protection and blessings with defense against the evil eye. And your images have a sort of "sheltering" quality, and also the vulnerability of the open hand.

And the whole idea of strength linked to the hamsa is interestingly belied--or perhaps confirmed in some metaphysical way--by the delicacy of the images on the palm.

Yes, I meant the lovely gold kelp! I do like that one, though I think that Miss Havisham's Bridal Leaf is my favorite...

Marly, an eye in the middle of the palm - that sounds like what I may be recalling! Fascinating what you say about the sheltering hand, yet its vulnerability, and the relation to the hamsa. I don't think hamsas were at all a part of my thinking when working on this series. Ah, you like gold too - the gold kelp and the gold bridal leaf!

"Nothing gold can stay." The images prove and disprove Frost--as did his poem, also.

Yes, there's often an eye in the palm... And of course your whole series is about "seeing," about what goes on seen, about cupping discards in a hand until they are visible as beautiful.

Marly, wonderful quote, must look that up! Thanks so much for your words about this series, so well said! May I quote you if need be when I write my artist's statement?

No need to ask if you find anything worth the quoting...

Marly, thank you! Still, I will let you know if I do. Always appreciate your wonderful feedback.

These are just stunning, Marja-Leena. The combination of a living hand with the chosen dried natural forms has a kind of universality to it and lots of symbolic echoes from various traditions and cultures. I hope they'll be seen far and wide. Could you get some realy big enlargements done for exhibition purposes?

Natalie, thank you so much for your kind words! The actual photograph is of course larger but the blog setup limits the width I can put up here. Now that you mention it, I may have to take a better quality photo with a better camera and display on the wall. These are just 'pinned up' (with magnets) so it's not a professional setup, just a working studio one. Of course each piece can be seen fairly large if you look at the links under 'Hands'.