The Spirit of the Camino
For some time I have been very intrigued by the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (the Way of St. James). If it is not familiar to you, it is the thousand year old, 500+ mile pilgrimage trail from the border of France to the city of Santiago de Compostela in the Northwest corner of Spain.
If you happen to have the time and desire to explore some thoughts about the Camino and the symbolism of the Scallop Shell (used repeatedly in several of my paintings) - feel free to read the information below.
If you would simply like to see my painting inspired by the Camino, you can view the Spirit of the Camino here. [Also - see if you can find the Spirit contained within the shells. It's kind of like Where's Waldo...] The painting contains several gold and other shiny surfaces which are not evident in the photo. Too bad because they are very lovely and add much depth.
|Acrylic & Multi-media on Canvas|
11" X 16"
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Much has been written about the Camino del Santiago de Compostela. Many believe that it has had a powerful draw on travelers over the centuries - as a vehicle of reflection and meditation. The arduous trail over Pyrenees and the Cantabrian Mountains is very demanding. There are many books which address all aspects of the journey, but it appears that most travelers approach it as a singular journey that tends to affect deep changes in one's life.
There is an indie film called The Way, starring Martin Sheen, directed by his son Emilio Estevez, which follows the Camino journey. It is a very poignant yet very sweet story - I recommend it highly. (It's available on Netflix and Prime). In addition, I have just discovered a website where you can do a virtual walk of the Camino (which is referred to as the Camino Frances). Check it out: http://www.walking4fun.com/trails/camino-de-santiago/camino-frances/
All of this background leads up to the most recognizable symbol of the Camino - la concha - the scallop shell. It literally acts as a marker for the trail along the way (see photos below), reassuring travelers that they are on the right path. It is often either worn attached to backpacks or used as a symbol of completion or pilgrim badge for having surmounted the challenges of the trail. More than just a symbol, both medieval and current pilgrims can use the shell for more practical purposes, such as scooping food and drink.
You may notice that the symbol of the scallop shell has had a place in my Harlequin Series - and continues to be used in my paintings. To me it is a metaphor for being on the correct path and the fact that there are many ways to reach a goal.
I hope you enjoyed this little excursion into the Camino de Santiago de Compostela...