Art from around the world and across time is one of the aspects of human existence that connects us all. Whether we're looking at mammoths on a cave wall or a framed painting in a museum, we innately understand the urge to express ourselves creatively. It has been a part of us for as long as we've been human.

Art from the ancient world does more than just help us understand the people who lived back then. It can also inspire us to creativity in our own modern lives.

Compared to other Bronze Age art from nearby regions (Egypt, Mesopotamia), Minoan art is lively and naturalistic, full of movement and life. That's probably part of the reason it continues to inspire artists in the modern world, including me.

The artwork in my Minoan Tarot deck is very much in the style of Minoan art. I intended for each card to evoke the feeling of holding a small fresco in your hands. But the "vibe" of the art from ancient Crete translates well into other styles, too. And the frescoes aren't the only source of inspiration.

Take, for instance, the gold seal rings found in Minoan tombs all over Crete. These tiny works of art contain incredible amounts of detail, and they all appear to depict ritual scenes. And they inspired me to create a series of modern art style paintings, each one based on a specific seal ring. The painting at the top of this post was inspired by this gold seal ring from the Isopata tombs near Knossos:

Isopata gold seal ring
Image CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

It shows a group of women performing ecstatic dance. That tiny figure floating just to the left of the central dancer is called an epiphany figure. It represents a deity, in this case a goddess, appearing to the worshipers. It may also indicate trance possession of a priestess by the goddess.

Others in this series include my modern art version of the Minos ring, which sadly may be a forgery. Still, it's a good representation of Minoan iconographic style, and I find it inspiring. Here's the actual ring (the largest one in the photo, on the left):

Minoan gold seal rings
Image CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

And here's my version:

The Minos Ring by Laura Perry

I've also done a painting of the gold seal ring from the Minoan cemetery at Phourni. This one includes a baetyl ritual (on the left), a tree-shaking ritual (on the right) and a dancing priestess (in the center):

The Archanes Phourni Ring by Laura Perry

And the Tiryns ring, which is actually Mycenaean but was made very much in the Minoan style:

The Tiryns Ring by Laura Perry

I've just completed a fifth piece in this series. This one is based on the Amnisos ring, which depicts a ritual scene involving a boat. I haven't had time to take proper photos of it yet, but here's what it looks like lying on the desk in my studio:

The Amnisos Ring by Laura Perry

This one is darker, because to me it feels more like a scene of farewell than joyful celebration. I like to imagine that these amazing rings were made to commemorate actual rituals and festivals, as keepsakes for those who attended. How does Minoan art inspire you?

You can find the Minoan Seal Ring Project paintings and all my other art on my website art gallery and in my Redbubble shop.

In the name of the bee,
And of the butterfly,
And of the breeze, amen.