With all the parts for our statue of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament now cast, we will wait for them to dry out, and then smooth out any fins.
"Fins" are the seamline areas of the mould, which appear on all cast works.
Once this has been completed the parts of the statue can be assembled and painted.
There were some unavoidable delays in the progress of this figure, but we are now back on track and hope to have it ready for May.
I am looking forward to seeing it painted up and installed for the place it was intended.
I hope to post again soon with images of the completed statue.
When is church art considered good or bad?
I suppose at this point I should define what I mean by "Bad church art."
Bad church art is anything that looks like it should belong in a domestic setting, or is mundane ( indifferent in appearance) or leads the viewers thoughts AWAY from prayer rather than to it.
It is anything that could confuse a person for example, on key doctrinal issues such as the modesty and purity of the Blessed Virgin.
"Good" church art then, is none of the above.
Its not as though one has to continually hark back stylistically, to produce "good" church art, as that would be to put a straight jacket on creativity and progress. It would help though, if the artist concerned understood the reason church art exists, that it has its "raison d'etre."
For example, if I employed a central heating engineer to fix my hot water system, I would want one who was a very least familiar with his subject. Even better, if he belonged to a long line of plumbers/electricians. I would want my heating system to be the best I could afford for reasons of long term efficacy.
If, (as in the case of the Ely cathedral madonna) the invitation to produce church art work is given to someone with no particular interest in Christianity and has atheistic and pagan tendencies, then they cannot have taken heed of HOSEA 8:7 " They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind."
"Good" church art is imperative to building faith, because they have an ability to by-pass the intellect and enter straight into the heart, they have a sublime quality.
From the moment we open our eyes at birth, we continually collect information about our surroundings and our place in relation to it. By these means we define the "who" we are and the "why" we exist. For this reason, we owe it to the faithful to give them "Good" church art, which can affect their hearts in profound ways.
And this is why I make no apologies for finding the Ely Madonna distasteful in the extreme. (even though some Anglican churches contain beautiful works of art.)
I do wonder when, if someone who can, will be brave enough to admit that commerce and curiosity aren't good enough reasons to draw people into a Cathedral church. Visitors deserve more than the after-taste of a scowling Valkyrie in a tight T-shirt. After all, those kinds of maidens can be found with regularity on MTV.
I am restoring a lovely set of Nativity figures, all from Maison Raffl; or should I say, from an
Anglican church in Redditch. The broken surfaces have been over painted by a film crew (who were there to record a service.)
The statues were cleaned, and the broken areas repaired and in- painted, I addressed all the chipped areas, matching the colours and finish throughout.
Above: Original decorative alb of the Christ child is revealed as old paint layers are removed; here the glass eyes are cleaned of overlapped paint and debris.
When restoring church statuary, I occasionally find at the base, the name of the studio which produced it.
I like finding those; because so many have been erased over the years and their origins lost to the mists of time.
People will often tell me how old their statues are, and which of their ancestors owned them, which churches they belong to and their country of origin.
One Studio which I encounter fairly often, is that of "Maison Raffl" also known as " La statue Religeuse" or "Raffle et Cie." (depending who the owner was at the time of production.)
The studio had many owners, and operated in between 1857 and 1920, and possibly up to 1946 (though I need to confirm the latter.)
Originally French, they later acquired a second studio in Ireland. They dominated religious statuary for Churches during the nineteenth century, and enjoyed a heyday in commercial religious art production, usually produced in plaster, which allowed a much lower cost than those of the traditional statuary carved in stone or wood. For this reason they were favoured by parish priests; particularly the order of Saint Sulpice who recognised this as a positive way to assist the faithful in encouraging their prayer lives in the home, and it seems that for this reason, the art which came from "Maison Raffl" is sometimes known as being modelled in the " Sulpicienne style." Its a term used to describe figures which are appealing, easily comprehended and finely modelled.
Sales were mainly through their catalogues, illustrated with engravings and early photographs; and although they specialized in the religious sector, their products included furniture, consoles, pedestals, and other items.
The House of Raffl manufactured in tens of thousands (over 62,000 for the period from 1871 to end 1877), installed in churches throughout France and also exporting worldwide.
A Madonna statue from Studio Raffl, (if memory serves it was dated 1918.) The statue was returned to its original decorative scheme, the colours chosen were those preferred by the owner.
Lewis and Lewis
is a Catholic family run business: specialising in statue restoration, and church interior projects.
Jeanette is a professional sculptor/fine artist and designer; husband David is a traditional upholsterer/technician.
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