Antlers and Thorns

Allow me to think aloud for a moment. I am contemplating a new piece, and elements are starting to work together, but I have to understand what it means, what it is saying, and how or why or if I agree with it. I have started with a thistle. I photographed one while walking not too long ago, and it's prickly skin and rough beauty captured my attention. Since then, I have began to research the thistle, and found it is Scotland's national flower, and has been used to represent an audacious nature. It testifies of nature's willingness to survive and grow, even in rough, dry places. While it is prickly, I find its shape to be quite graceful and its purple top feminine and beautiful. This seems to tie in with the Scottish identity as well. The Scots have clung to a difficult land, and survived despite continual oppression. I recently went to a Scottish festival. I am a little Scottish, but was wondering what it is about this heritage that causes such pride. What brings proud old men to wear formal kilts and feathered hats, and young tattooed men to wear utilikilts and chains? I think it is the spirit of revolution, of freedom that make the Scotsman proud. It was Braveheart's last cry, and it echoes in the hearts of these people. The idea that we do not have to accept tyranny and injustice.

Currently, I have the thistle paired with a deer. A buck, more specifically. I was thinking of the Scottish landscape and wild life, and the relationship between antlers and thorns. Deer are often seen to spiritual, intelligent animals,  with grace and speed. I decided to separate the antlers from the buck's head and and was intrigued by this idea. It's odd, and I like it, but is a gender commentary? That is not my goal. I might touch upon those issues in my art, but they are not a focus. It does say something of gender ambiguity. Perhaps that there are feminine and masculine traits in everyone. Male deer do shed their antlers, so I think separating the antlers can symbolise maturing, aging, and becoming wiser, which would be fitting with the buck representing wisdom. Perhaps it also says something for setting down our defenses, to letting others in. The goal to life is not merely to survive, but also to thrive. So here it is. There is freedom, there is growth, there is audacity, pride, wisdom, and maturity. It needs one more element, and I think it is unity.