On restoring this carved wood statue of the Sacred Heart for London church, we found a surprise or two...
The base had some physical damage, and had been heavily painted ; we discovered that the original colour had been a deep blue, and the emblems of Christ's passion had once been painted entirely gold.
To the reverse of the statue, a construction panel had shrunk back as the timber has dried out over a period of time.
(Dry air from church heating systems can exacerbate this problem.)
These splits extend through to the front of the statue and continue up into the right hand side of the head. That's consistent with it following the path of the wood grain.
Occasionally, the grade of wood used in a statue is poor, and this makes it subject to atmospheric changes,
It appeared that the original hands of the statue had been removed, and replaced with resin hands. They had been attached with bathroom type silicone, and the bridging pin used to hold the two together (shown below left) was inadequate.
Occasionally, wood carvers will carve hands separately and attach later, with an authentic wooden joint.
The above photo shows the right hand of the statue re-attached. If compared with the position of the hand before repair ( see above left) its possible to see that it has been re-positioned to affect a more naturalistic and elegant gesture.
The statue now resides at the Monastery of the Ascension, Prenton, Birkenhead. It is said that "When England returns to Walsingham; Mary will return to England."
SYMBOLISM OF THE IMAGE
♥The throne displays seven rings on its uprights, (the pillars of the church) for the seven sacraments. (Sometimes interpreted as the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. )
The back of the chair is arched to represent the arch of the rainbow; "the sign of the covenant between God and every living creäture.
" (Gen 9 :v 12)Under her feet is the Toad stone, believed during medieval times to be formed in the head of a toad, and to have magical powers;- it is the East Anglian equivalent of the moon or serpent, all representative of evil; superstitious practice and idolatry.
Just as the serpent is crushed under heel in the book of Revelation, so Mary (crushes) the Toad stone and all it represents - under her feet.
The finished statue holds a sceptre fashioned like a three fold lily, as Mary is the pure Lily chosen by the Trinity from all eternity.
Slide show of procession
As its not always possible for me to attend the installation of my statues or similar events like this procession; I am always grateful for those who send me a photo or two.
The slideshow is courtesy of Mrs. H. and the comment is from " Brendan" :
"The day has been very special the sun has been with us, Carmel was full and even the old Sister's looked young, really seemed that Our Blessed Mother had arrived home, Our own English Queen will be singing your praises in Heaven, She will be delighted with your statue. Well done.
The icon board was cut to size and the animal glue soaked overnight. Next day this is warmed through, and used to adhere the cloth to the board. Once the glue on the linen cloth has cured it is trimmed; and the application of the prepared gesso can begin. (above right) The aim of this process is to produce a smooth pristine surface to receive the paint. It is built up over a couple of days using around seven to ten layers of gesso. This is carefully cured and sanded to present an area which represents the perfection of heaven. When executed properly, these gesso layers can last centuries; sometimes when the board has decayed, the gesso layer and "Pavaloka" can be removed to conserve the artwork, and re- mounted onto another board.
Good relationships are built on Trust
This area (the Kovtcheg) represents a transitional space between heaven and earth - and as life on earth can be pretty imperfect; I guess on this project it is acceptable to allow a space which is physically distressed.
The icon will be rendered in oils and include gold leafing. The finished icon will take several months to complete, because of the long period oils take to cure. (I have now added the Finished Icon to the intro of this post.)
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Catholic statue repair & church artworks by Lewis and Lewis:
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