“The Sacred Heart of Oseira” is a photograph of a cloister from the Spanish monastery of Santa María la Real de Oseira. It was taken in 2007 by Paul Preece as part of his “Cloisters” series.
The image is of interest due to the accidental presence of divine symbols hidden in plain view. The term accidental is used in the sense that the symbols were not added to the image in post-production: the symbols are present on the original 5″x4″ black and white negative.
Symbol I – The Heart
The symbol that gives the artwork it’s title is the heart. It is also the easiest of the hidden symbols to see.
If the photograph had been taken either earlier or later in the day or even on a different day or season would the heart shape be as strong as it is? The lower parts of the heart are flanked by the upper ends of the strong light entering the cloister. It is difficult to say whether different light would alter the heart shape sufficiently to make it unrecognisable. What is clear is that cloisters live and breathe light and they can go from a dull and murky gloom to a full-on box of light in seconds. Their medieval builders knew this and could plan to utilise the daily passage of the sun and how it filtered into the cloister and its galleries.
- The Secret Language of the Renaissance, Decoding the Hidden Symbolism of Italian Art. Richard Stemp, Watkins Publishing London (2018).
- Cracking the Symbol Code, the Hidden Message within Church and Renaissance Art. Tim-Wallace Murphy, Watkins Publishing London (2005).
- Signs & Symbols in Christian Art. George Ferguson, Oxford University Press (1954).