Updated: Sep 20
Let me take you on a journey into hell - recreating the story of Dante's Inferno.
Dante is an Italian poet from the 14th century. He wrote the Divine Comedy, which comprises of three books - Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise. And although some won't know much about Dante they will have come across his work. He has been referenced many times in films and books for example Dan Brown's - Angels and Demons.
This sculpture is of Dantes Inferno and took 18 months to create. It is painted in oils on layered steel and presented on wooden plinths. The imagery in Dante's Inferno was the inspiration behind this piece. There are 8 separate pieces - 7 small individual sculptures surrounding the central piece. This story builds in intensity as the story unfolds. Photos of the completed structure coming soon.
We start the journey with Mount Delectable. Dante tries to get to the mount through a forest only to have his pathway blocked by three creatures:
The Jaguar, the Lion and the She-wolf. He is unable to make his way through.
Virgil appears to him, he has been sent by three women who watch over Dante. He will be his guide through the nine circle of hell.
'I entered the deep and savage way'
Dante and Virgil follow a crowd towards the ferryman. They appear to be chasing a banner in the sky and are being stung by hornets and flies. They pass the gates of Hell: Abandon all hope ye who enter in. The ferryman - Charon the demon beats those how lag. They depart across the dark waves to the other side. On so onto the first circle of Hell.
Virgil and Dante come to the first circle of Hell - Limbo. Here a forest of damned souls stand on the shore - the valley of the suffering. The unbaptised - lost but not punished reside here. From here Virgil and Dante are escorted across the defending river to the other side by Homer, Horace, Ovid and Lucan. They arrive at the 7 walls of the citadel. Here Dante sees many scholars and poets and names them. From here Virgil takes Dante onwards to the second circle of Hell......
The second circle of Hell is where we find Minos snarling. He examines the transgressions of the damned. He passes judgment on their souls. With his tail encircling his body he commands which circle of Hell each one is sent to. Within this level of Hell are the combating opposing winds, it is where we find Lust. The souls of this transgression are tossed around wildly - punished in the black air.
Dante and Virgil press on......
On arriving at the third circle of Hell they are greeted by Cerberus - the great worm - the three headed hell hound. He is flaying the souls of the damned. The eternal rain and hail fall - making the earth noisy. The sin of gluttony resides here.
Next they journey to the fourth circle............
Pluto the great enemy clucks - 'Pape Satan, Pape Satan, Aleppe!' Sat on his chariot overlooking the souls under his command. Here dwells the sin of greed. The souls push boulders around this circle for eternity. Virgil and Dante pass across this circle to the other bank where a boiling fountain pours over itself and down into a gully..........
They arrive at the fifth circle of Hell - the marsh named the Styx. The sin of wrath occupies this place. The souls bite and tear at each other. The souls reside beneath the surface bubbling their words. Dante and Virgil pass over a great arc to the other bank and Phlegyas escorts them towards flames in the distance of the sixth circle of Hell...........
They arrive to see the valley of mosques burning in the distance. They venture towards the City of Dis surrounded by raging waters. Medusa claws at her breast and spits at them, demons rain down over the gates preventing them from entering. An angel descends to open the gates for them and they venture inside. Popes and clergy burn in the eternal flames, this is the city of heretics.
Dante follows Virgil away from this city and towards the seventh circle........
The seventh circle of hell has three inner circles, it is the sin of violence. The first circle is violence against neighbour, the second circle is violence against self and the third is violence against God.
The minotaur blocks their path, snarling and devouring himself. As they venture past him they come to the river of blood where the souls are being tormented by centaurs.
In the second circle the trees are born from the souls of suicide victims. They are tormented by the harpies who feed on them. Two chained mastiff dogs guard this realm.
The third circle has the souls suffering the eternal rain of fire.
Virgil and Dante press on........
On arriving at the eighth circle they navigate their way around. Around the necks of the souls Dantes sees a pouch: yellow with a lion, red with a goose and white with a pregnant sow. He also sees souls wheeling around using each other as part of the wheel.
They reach Geryon and he has the face of a benign man, hairy armpits, bearlike claws and a tail of a serpent. This demon escorts them down into the ditches of the eighth circle where the fraudsters and tricksters reside......
Councillors of Fraud
Sowers of discord
Each of these are represented on the central piece which is made up of a large copper structure surround by a web of these paintings.
After visiting these ditches Dante and Virgil descend into the ninth circle with the help of the giants who represent the sin of pride.
Once the giants have helped them into the ninth circle, they travel across the icy where the souls are trapped up to their necks.......
Finally they arrive at Lucifer himself, a three headed beast who devours the souls of treachery and murder. His six wings beat the icy winds across this domain.
From here Virgil and Dante climb their way to Purgatory. This is the second book of Dante's Devine Comedy. I already have the sketches to complete this along with Paradise, but due to the size and cost I am unsure as to whether I will ever complete it. If there is someone out there who would like to commission the next stage please get in touch, it would be a 1.5 year project.
I will endeavour to put up a completed photo of the whole sculpture soon. I hope you have enjoyed your journey into hell.