Ascend the celestial stair!

The Priesthood arrives! More results from those legendary Nottinghamshire Sunday sessions. The detailing and proportions/volumes of these models are particularly sublime, and I’m at two minds now if my models are up to the reference, and for sure I need to be bold and go crazy with Red instead of the more muted oranges I have been considering.

You should have noticed by now the new look website too, any and all comments and feedback is welcome!

Happy monday.




26 thoughts on “Ascend the celestial stair!

  1. Another excellent piece! The figure at the forefront is particularly striking due to its inhuman tallness, giving it an alien quality. I really like the candle on top of its head, and the little shrine that is on top of the figure behind them; very evocative.

    I also really like the new blog layout. I think it looks even more professional than it had, and it is now easier to navigate. Good job!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Tall, thin and Terran…bloody gorgeous Mr. M´Thistle!

    The thorny staff of the elder one is intruiging. I choose to see it as a hidden hint towards the Crataegus Host slowly approacing the Sol System. Apparently, they will be welcomed…The sparrow hawk shaped emblem on that guy, and the finger ring too, is a beauty.

    And those gothic spire shaped candle-mass head garments are wonderful. Ok, enough praise…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. May I ask why hawthorn (Crataegus)? Has it a mystical meaning I’ve missed [I can find that the Crown of Thorns was said to spring from a hawthorn tree and that the Glastonbury Thorn, planted by Joseph of Arimathea by a miracle, may have something to do with a miraculous resurrection of a God from a ‘dry’ body, Joseph’s staff, to the ‘blossoming’ Green Man…) I never ‘analysed’ your Magos and his Guard but they deserve it — brilliant models.

      The Lost Botaniste Mechanicvm and their ideas to repair the Throne as an biomechanical perfectionne of fleshe and metal are inspired. I studied a little botany, a fascinating subject, mainly algae — Mr Blanche draws such haunting flora, there’s a lovely one of a skulled Magos recalling Gilbert White of Selborne or ”another gentleman scientist” with cane and coat and full Victorian panoply in a haunting forest — I should love to see the thorn-moons of the crataegus expanse…

      The idea of Darwin’s Origin of Species, which our world makes so much of, surviving only as a palimpsest (i.e. a remnant of the previous subject on a piece of reused parchment) is fascinating — it drives home the memento mori so often seen in pilgrymme:

      Tell me, where now are all those masters and teachers, whom thou knewest well, whilst they were yet with you, and flourished in learning? Their stalls are now filled by others, who perhaps never have one thought concerning them. Whilst they lived they seemed to be somewhat, but now no one speaks of them.
      (Thomas of Kempen, De Imitatione Christi)

      That it should then be found and revived… I doubt the Host think of themselves as tech-heretics, they believe they love the Emperor and will restore Him. I can imagine, if they are allowed to dispute, a great deal of controversy… they may be welcomed. It would be interesting to read more about the coming of the Green Man as a new tech-heresy.


      1. Thanks for the reflections on the Lost Mechanicvm and the thorn moons of Crataegus Fragmentum PG.

        I gave this a lot of thought while developing my narrative for the Lost Mechanicvm. There are several reasons why Crataegus makes sense. First of all it is a tree steeped in myth, folklore and rites. To say the least. For instance, important for the Lost Mechanicvm narrative, it is associated with Mars and fire in some mythologies.

        But also, hawthorn is a sacred tree in many Pagan beliefs and is still practiced in witchcraft and local rites around the galaxy. The Halo Stars of Crataegus Fragmentum has been off the map for Millennia. But shrines and rogue temples devoted to spring and rebirth is a common site in The Rift and some areas in the Gothic Sector close to that part of space. Maye Poles for instance are often made of hawthorn indicating a phallic symbol symbolising spring, rebirth and the renewal of nature…

        The close relationship between The Golden Throne, Mars and Crataegus will slowly unfold as I post more of the Lost Mechanicvm and Brostten Haggwers race to Terra…and other parts of the Sol System!


      2. Thank you ever so much. It is this attention to detail which makes the Pilgrymme project so fascinating to study or just to wander in.

        A very thorough explanation — I ought to have asked my mother, who is far more knowledgeable about pagan mythology than I am.

        It is curious that a very pagan figure like the Greene Manne so often occurs in churches — the decidedly pagan song ”Sumer is icumen in” [the film ”the Wicker Man” gives a poetic and pretty good approximate translation] is accompanied by unexceptionably devout lyrics as ‘Perspice Christicola’ in the Harley Collection. I am wandering off the point, forgive me — all I meant to do was show you this very interesting misericord:

        The relevance to the Lost Mechanicvm and the cominge of the Greene Manne could hardly be plainer — the skulle of the Emperor-in-Deathe on the Golden Throne surrounded by livinge leaves… the Emperor whose long sacrificialle deathe allows the Imperium to flourish (reminds me of the sacrifice of the Sacred King, another pagan idea which oddly agrees with the sacrificial death of Our Dear Lord, I suppose they struck on some things correctly).

        I found the idea of forest-cathedrals especially compelling — you’ll know about the beautiful fan vaults in English cathedrals [particularly the Great Cloister in Gloucester), I imagine trees carefully coaxed into these fan-shapes, the boles forming long rows of pillars, perhaps a hedged altar-rail bristling with spines, all interwoven with machinery, pipes running up and fusing with the boles and mingling with living branches, oil and sap constantly pumped, mingled and exchanged (I have the idea of a rather strange ”communion service” in which mixed oil and sap are drunk by the adepts who are still human enough to possess mouths, perhaps injected into the higher ranking priest, photosynthesis (the Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle has a distinctly mechanical feel to it, a logical processione from one combination of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen to another…) and strange mechanical processes mingling together…

        Had I paid more attention to the two blanche pictures on the Sverre Arrhenius page the first, the Linnaeus- , Hooker- or Daerwynne-Magos is labelled ”Brossten Haggwers”! They both show just such a tree as I tried cack-handedly to describe, tube and bole and bough mingling together and fusing one with another, water-mist and fumes mixing together, the writing-desk of the recording Adept (I am convinced he is using apple-gall ink) growing out of the tree, servo-skulls wired to the trees where they receive both oil and glucose… fascinating.

        Don’t let my ramblings deter you from your own ideas which will be far better, but if it were not truly great art I would not be writing this — I have seen many a yard of Nymphs and Shepherds or Deaths of Agrippa which my mother and I make fun of as a form of expensive wallpaper! which don’t make me think half as much as this…


  3. Fabulous! I totally love the gothic ornament heads and decorations. The paintings in churches showing patrons holding up miniature versions of the building they donated are favorites of mine, and I also love Thistle’s earlier cathedral head so this is right up my alley. The guy on the left in particular! Somebody needs to make a model of him for sure.

    The inhuman proportions really are wonderful and mysterious. Impressive how un-mechanicus these guys seem despite so many design overlaps. Just perfect.

    Oh and Migsula I think you’re right about the reds. And I know it depends how you’ll be painting the table, and your botanist and alpha legionaires are already on your signature beautiful rubble bases, but I can’t help but think how amazing it would be if every model’s base was gold? Dirty and weathered of course (and littered with prayer leaflets and decrees), but gold everywhere. Non-metallic but golden in color like in these beautiful paintings, or metallic paint / rubb & buff / gold leaf could both look amazing …

    ps: the site update looks great

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you sir! We will definitely include gold in prominent role in the table, but I also needed a darker bad drop for minis. Particularly as some of them are quite golden themselves 🙂


  4. Excellent as always!
    I get so many ideas from your work Mr elder for my own models and terrain I’m working on. Really looking forward seeing more minis and art from you guys. And it will be very interesting to see what the terrain will look like…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I believe that this painting is the highest up in Terra we have yet been shown, among the great cathedral-spyres, the goal of the throngs of pilgrymmes who have survived the mist and carrion-fowl of the botanicariumme, the broken roads through the bowels of Terra and the swarms of thieves, scavengers and worse in the halls of Terra, throngs of pilgrymmes defying number or even any real sense of scale pouring in through one of at least six great Gothic arches in the outer wall, the basilicae, domes and pillars reaching up beyond sight. The clearest sign that this is the upper levels of Terra is the sky outside and the browned, dirty, foul outside of the spyre. The contrast between the gilded inside and the rusted, decayed pitted outside exposed to the foul atmosphere is interesting — the inside is decaying too, rusty chains or foul growths hanging from the wall, the gilt is pale and almost sickly, there are patches of brown amongst the gold — grandeur and decay, Terra yet again imitating its master, who is both God and rotting carcase.

    Incense, clouds of incense everywhere, representing both the prayers of the pilgrymmes ascending to God and also as with the botafumeiro at Santiago de Compostela to hide the stink of the filthy, unwashed, ragged pilgrymmes, I imagine immense servitor-pulled thuribles, the thurifers with vat-grown muscles to hoist the censers and many killed when the chain breaks. For the same reason incense is burnt in front of the golden throne, to praise the Emperor and also to hide the suffocating stench of formalin and the foul reek of decaying flesh.

    The priests in the near background all seem concerned with the pilgrymmes, one lifting his arms in exhortation as he spurs the tired pilgrymmes up the steps on their knees, bleeding, sweating, filthy, eyes and hearts lifted up to the Emperor. Others hold up shrines and reliques, leading and encouraging, another labours at a writing desk to enter that the Sodalitie of the Goldene Throne, after so many tribulations and hundreds of millions of miles have come to do homage to the God-Emperor at last. The light hanging in front of him and the paper at an angle on a slope rather than our custom of writing flat both recall a mediaeval scriptorium: The writer-priest’s mitre is a series of Gothic arches recalling the basilicae…

    The road on which the front two priestes stand is oddly organic. Much of Terra is or seems biomechanical, machine and flesh like the Emperor…. this is shown in the winding tuberoads in deep Terra the botanicariumme and is clear again here, the road like wood or almost like cables. I imagine (superstitiously….???) the pilgrymmes venerate and kiss the road as an extension of the Emperor’s flesh Terra is shaped in sympathy with its master and imitates him, glory and rot, machine and man, carcase and God. It is moulded by his psychic presense, symbolic almost without intent, echoing him… I can imagine an imperial mystic writing (forgive the bad poetry)

    O on the road to Terra fair there grows a golden tree,
    It’s twisted bole bespeaks his pain, his sweet tears in the bitter rain,
    With branches bare,. and wires for hair, yet goodly tis to see,
    I gazed alone, as on the Throne, as if the thing were he
    Can God be Terra, Terra God? For so it seemed to me

    For so it seemed to me… this is not official fluff but a stronger and stronger sense I get from the drawings, my own idea, perhaps the writings of some obscure mystic – the emperor is terra and terra is the emperor, the whole planet is shaped by and grows around and echoes his psychic presence, a holie version of the way in which the region of the Warp in which they dwell is fit to each of the Ruinous Powers, for a daemon can imitate a God… I think the whole point of ygdrassiliumme was that a warp entity moulded a space hulk to suit it… surely a God can mould a whole planet?

    They are dressed in red — the colour of blood, zeal, sacrifice, but also highly visible to the pilgrymmes. The lesser priest — in stature and I think in status for he lacks the fur and the over-mantle of his peer – seems to have his head fused to his reliquary-shrine (or a mass of fused candles echoing the spire as suggested above), I imagine it both as ‘practical’ and a sort of penance, unable to sleep or rest, always in pain. His arm is pale and thin, gripping a skull-staff, the other is a metal claw clutching another reliquary-censer… metal and flesh, pain and piety and splendour. His robes are again rather foetid with what seems like a catheter on his chest, a lock at his waist and vials — perhaps blood? Holie oil?

    The greater priest’s fur collar reminds me of the fur coats worn by mediaeval clergy under their vestments (hence the word surplice = super pellicium = that worn over fur). I imagine it is much more necessary in the vast Terran basilicae…. Hitlers volkshalle would have had rain from the condensation of his audience and imagine the the basilicae as vaster far and freezing and delapidated in parts. The candles on his head seem like a sign of the Emperor’s light (or a penance? more faults, more candles??), his face again is hidden, probably ancient and mutilated. The sparrowhawk keys are bothering me — I feel I’ve seen them somewhere before, they remind me of the Ukrainian coat of arms. A provisional analysis is keys or medallions perhaps both an aquila and the ‘T’ of terra. The medals he is wearing are a heroic face edged in wires (the Emperor as seen by the pilgrymmes) and the letters, I think PG (my names’s going places! nah….).

    I interpreted the spiked staff as a means of penance, either to beat pilgrymmes falling out of line or for self-flagellation, but a connection to the Green Man is interesting. The head is another shrine, two diptych panels of skulls and a mass of candles.


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    1. I really like your concept of Terra and the Emperor being one and the same. That it is shaped in his own image, grand and macabre in equal measures, a reflection of his turmoil and psychic strenght.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Totally; I had been picking up the same thing from all the biomechanical cables/tendrils/veins we see the pilgrims crossing, as if the golden throne is growing through the whole palace, even into the bedrock of terra itself. We’ve already got green man mythos, but what this really reminds me of is the relationship between King Arthur and the land; when Arthur finally rises from his depression/illness/curse and drinks from the grail, he is revitalized and spring returns:

        This is quite possibly part of the Aarthurian legend but I have to admit I know it only from the wonderful movie Excalibur. The breakdown of distinctions between kingdom/king, body/land, god/planet is so cool, and of course the God Emperor’s powerful warp presence allows for that type of medieval symbolic logic to be very “real.” Throw in some other dead zombie god myths (Osiris, Jesus, etc) and the future of Terra is looking very dramatic …


      2. Honoured Mr Wier — thank you. The Church of the Red Athenaeum, if I may say so, is utterly inspired. Vivere est Pati — it reminds me a little of the excesses of the Flagellants — a thoroughly heretical sect if one looks closely, but very pious exteriorly so it will pass unnoticed, mingling orthodoxy and very strange beliefs… I look forward to reading more.


    1. Thank you very much. I looked about a little and found this reenactment set which illustrates the distinctive shape:

      You don’t happen to have any pictures of the robe and pins inspiring this picture? I think I’ll buy a reprint of Dore if such a thing exists to get Rottenchapell’s inspiration.

      Sorry if this is a bit forward, but may I ask what do you think of my analysis of the painting? I suppose you as the artist are a particularly intended audience… I could be talking guff.


  6. PG – Cool analysis – dore is available from Dover books – mi photos of the Saxon stuff was on phone but I delete once used ……,


  7. Ha! Patrick is as much a man of words as Laurence is a man of few words!

    I’m enjoying both 🙂

    Such an exciting project

    The Santiago Botafumeiro is a great source of inspiration, a medieval throwback in the present age… but Laurence finds inspiration wherever he looks…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow another amazing painting from The Master of Grimdark. The castle heads always look cool. It really reminds me of the techpriest dominos, bishop head. The pilgrims look like they would worship Terra itself as their fashion is based on the spires of hive cities. The background is marvelous, it really hits got the ‘pilgrimage’ feel it imitates the al-haj where Muslims would go to Mecca and the mosques are always packed 😉

    Migs, I don’t want to be rude but, would you mind checking my PM I sent to you in the ammobunker? Again, I really don’t want to force but it is much appreciated if you could critique my idea and pilgrims for your project.


  9. Weirding Way: For the origin of the Arthurian idea, look up the Wounded or Fisher King (pagan and rather indecent, take care). I confess I had forgotten it for months until you mentioned Arthurian legends so it was not my inspiration — I was working purely on Lawrence’s unparalleled art and 40K texts.

    I can imagine the Fisher King idea is very appropriate for your Navigators — though we do not know why there must be a Paternova and when he dies his kingdom falls into ‘blight’ and ‘winter’ — the Navigators are greatly weakened. the kingdom of the Navis Nobilite is tied up with its progenitor and sustainer, there’s a lovely Latin phrase, Altus Prosator, high first-sower, high creator (Sator, merely sower or poetically father would suit better) … I imagine reverence and quasi-worship of the Paternova as guiding father and sustainer… a very patriarchal, clannish society, at least in theory (we know there is constant scheming and tradition is often alas merely useful)… when he is hale his Navigators flourish, as he sickens and dies they fail until another takes his place.

    ”Paternova, Altus Sator, dirige nos. In the terrors of the Empyrean, dirige nos. Tossed on the sea of souls, dirige nos. Besieged by horrors, dirige nos. Paternova, Altus Sator, dirige nos! Imperator miserere nobis!”[just me rambling])

    Mike: Surely Lawrence talks through his paintings? I’m nothing more than an interpreter and I doubt very much if I unpack more than a tenth of what he puts into his art. I sometimes think I’m just a babbling brook! Nevertheless, thank you.

    Lawrence: Thank you for the tip. I spent part of today reading about Saxon costume and discovered that the rather strange tapered mantle worn by the elder priest maybe recalls an unusual saxon mantle shape which was an irregular diamond.


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