As promised, photos of the finished Gothic statues, which had been awaiting restoration in our previous post, "Lenten Challenge".
The surfaces were restored to their original colours and decoration, which had been altered by a previous restorer; likewise the face and flesh areas were repainted to present a natural look...(rather than heavily applied make - up!)
Research showed that hangman's noose at the neck, and a dagger in the chest was the usual motif.With twenty characters to depict, the dagger and rope may have got a bit "samey". Variety was needed to pay tribute to each individual Saint.
Putting Faces to Names
I though it best to follow convention where "portraits" of the Martyrs were concerned, working from historic images of them.
Unable to find any portraits of Blessed Thomas Maxfield, I had to decide on his appearance, and what symbols I could use to identify him;
and so here is what I chose:
The flowers he holds signify more than just the fact that both the Gallows and his path to them were strewn with wild flowers; I chose species which represent the blood of the martyrs and their association with the passion of Christ.
The butterfly is a nod to his having suffered biting insects when imprisoned; though I have used here the symbol of "Eternal Life".
Balancing act with colours
The composition of the mural was to echo the paintings of Giotto and Fra Angelico.
As both had distinct styles, I chose elements from both to achieve the desired marriage between the two!
These artists did not use perspective as a contemporary artist would, and they favoured large discs of halos, and layering of their figures.
Last year we restored a Marian Retable for a church in Accrington.
The original shrine statue was long gone, and the replacement didn't quite fit.
To accommodate her size, some carved swags had been removed.
Despite her pretty face, stylistically the figure was rather stiffly posed; the overall impression was one of tension, as though she was teetering on the edge, preparing to jump.
Fr. S wanted to find something more fitting to help with devotions in his church.
Providentially, the answer to this problem came as a commission for us to produce a new statue of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.
Our Lady under this title is traditionally portrayed in a shade of Royal blue, with a red gown.
As I painted the wine (precious blood of Christ) within the chalice, it felt right to continue this colour onto Mary's gown; (mindful that Jesus is of Mary's blood line.)
I decorated the hem of Mary's gown with orpherys of gold, similar to the ornament found on ornate tabernacles, for both are places which house Our Lord Jesus.
In making the statue, I felt it was important to have the Christ child assimilating the same gesture as the priest. (Who during the celebration of the Mass, serves in persona Christi, that is, in the very person of Christ, who is truly present.)
The new statue of Our Lady had to fit exactly into the existing aperture, and this was one reason Fr. S had problems finding a replacement. The apse was chamfered on both sides, so measurements had to be exact.
" Because he belongs to Christ, the priest is radically at the service of all people: he is the minister of their salvation, their happiness and their authentic liberation, developing, in this gradual assumption of Christ's will, in prayer, in "being heart to heart" with him. Therefore this is the indispensable condition for every proclamation, which entails participation in the sacramental offering of the Eucharist and docile obedience to the Church." - Pope Benedict XVI 24 June 2009
Recently, we have been planning the restoration of a Marian themed retable at an Accrington church.
It was installed in the mid 1930's and was designed by the renowned Architect "Giles Gilbert Scott" - Most commonly known for his design of the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool, and the once familiar red telephone box.
A new Retable on the opposite transept of the church had been installed in the 1970's; and with all the re-ordering in process; (which advocated " In with the new, and out with the old.")
It was decided that the old Marian Retable should be adjusted to match the new one....(rather than vice versa! )
Inspired by a conversation with one of our good priests who was visiting us; I dusted off my embroidery box and began to sew.
For some time I have been wondering if my Needlework could be put to any Liturgical use, and praying about it, ("as one does!" )
I was half way through making this sampler when I took a step back for reflection; " Oh dear" I thought, I am making images again!"
I recalled my mum once saying " Jeanette, I think you were only meant for decoration...!"
She thought this was very funny, but may have been nearer the truth than she realised!
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I've been asked by Father C to re-design the decorative scheme for this altar, to evoke Christ, rather than his Mother Mary, the Blessed Virgin.
As a "nod to its age, it will be in a medieval gothic style. (I believe its from the days of the architect Pugin, or slightly earlier.)
I'll post again when its done with some before and after images,
until then, to the left is William Blakes marvellous work " Ancient of Days" depicting God measuring out the universe with a Compass.
Art and Maths need each other, like faith and reason; Seems Blake and Pugin understood that Divine order- liness, extends even unto the realm of liturgical arts!
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