I couldn't resist checking out the existing geometry on this Marian themed Altar. Even though, in my school days I would have headed for the art room rather than the maths room every time; the recurrence of medieval intricacies in my work has long since converted me!
This altar was made in the days when imperial measurements were king. I found that the original design is off centre, (above right) and the circles were not so ...well, circular. Anomalies like this where human intervention is evident can add liveliness and charm to a decorative scheme; all the same, this was a little too lob-sided for my liking.
The general condition and paintwork is poor, (above left). We were able to restore the item and repaint it with a new decorative scheme. As a working piece, that makes sense - it keeps it in circulation if adapted to the current needs of a congregation.
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.
This statue of the Sacred Heart had long been a familiar presence at Mr. K's home. When an unruly breeze and a billowing curtain knocked it from the sill, the base and neck were snapped. Rather than discard this much loved piece, an attempt was made by a friend, to repair the head (1) but the glue had never set quite right.. and the base had been made stable with some (2) window putty - well, it is a type of modelling clay of sorts!
Mr. K. decided it was time to have the statue professionally restored; To do this successfully, first the head and the putty base had to be removed, and the areas of break cleaned up before the repairs could be done. (3)
As much putty as possible was removed from the base, (4) though some oily deposits had leached into the plaster,making adhesion of new plaster difficult. A new plinth was made (5) and shaped, then the missing length of folds and the feet were re- modelled.
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