The Origin of Life (2005)

Every so often, a picture takes 80 years to paint. The Origin of Life (2005) is based on a scene Douglas MacDiarmid saw at the age of three, his first visual memory of a cousin, Topsy Balharry, swimming in the ocean at Fitzroy beach.

“Little boys born in the centre of the North Island discover the sea with a feeling of being reborn. My cousin was gently rolling, luxuriatingly peaceful on her back, and to me it was miraculous that anybody could be so ONE with the water.”

Douglas named it for the amount of water in our composition, plus the first life having been formed in the sea – in minute particles of algae receiving essential acids and minerals from rain fallen through centuries of space and information.

This picture, and a second more elemental Origin of Life painting as shown below “of micro-algae moving upwards from the ocean depths to the surface for the miracle of photosynthesis producing the eventual human blood”, were part of his successful November 2005 show at home, at which almost everything sold.


The Origin of Life (2005) by Douglas MacDiarmid, acrylic on canvas, 116 x 89cm. Private collection, Paris
Origin of Life 2005, acrylic on canvas 116 x 89 cm. Private collection, Paris

To read more about Douglas MacDiarmid’s fascinating journey through life Buy your copy of Colours of a Life – the life and times of Douglas MacDiarmid by Anna Cahill (2018)

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Life and Times of Douglas MacDiarmid biography
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