Mixed media, wood, plaster, resin; Murano glass and crystal glass beads, plastic flowers, glitter

The respect ‘for ‘Our Lady’, has been important to many cultures throughout the history of time. For many she is seen as a symbol of peace and enlightenment. She is the recognised symbol of ‘Mother and Child’ and in this way is often able to connect with many cultures throughout time including non-believers. In the Koran, the holy name of the Blessed Virgin Mary is mentioned thirty times. No other woman is named, not even Mohammed’s daughter, Fatima. Only Abraham, Moses, and Noah are mentioned more times than ‘Our Lady’.

Prayer beads or rosary beads, (in Latin ‘rosarium’, meaning ‘rose garden’), have been used as a tool of meditation since the start of the written word. It is a term that is not solely Christian. For example in Tibet and India the Sanskrit word ‘mala’ means ’garden’, ‘garden of flowers’. The Hindu, name  ‘japamala’ translates into ‘rose chaplet’.

Religions such as Roman Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism. Buddhism, Sikhism and Bahá’í Faith use the beads to count the repetitions of prayers, chants or devotions. This allows a minimal amount of conscious effort to count and have greater attention for prayer, meditation, and protection from negative energy, or relaxation whether it is vocal or silent. The number of beads and the materials used vary depending on the different religions and cultural epoch.

For the artwork ‘Remember’, Julia has chosen to use the Catholic prayer bead, the Murano Venetian glass bead and glass crystals to embody the word ‘remember’. The Venetian twirls of colour wrap what would have been a small rose in the centre. They are set in resin, which adds translucency to how the viewer might read or perceive this word when in deliberation in St. Augustine’s Church.

Five small statues of ‘Our Lady’, are embedded amongst a perfumed garden of incense (gold, frankincense and myrrh) and kitsch flowers. By the artist removing the figures religious apparel with white paint, it then brings into question their identity. Instead the viewers gaze falls upon her purity, her stance with her hands, her pose and embrace; the tilt of her head, and her sense of peace. In the dark, the colours blue, turquoise, orange, green and purple glow, to create a spiritual sense of being and enlightenment.

The notion surrounding the plastic flowers are borrowed from Christian celebrations in Mexico and central America where ‘Our Lady’ is adorned in an array of both plastic and real flowers, tinsel, poetic letters, and random objects such as coca cola bottles to put the flowers in. The similarities of this practise depicted in the work, supply a consciousness to the discourses that surround the approaches towards religion.

The portrayal of the garden, alongside the colourful illuminations of ‘Our Lady’, presents a place to contemplate and remember what has been and gone and what is now and beyond, a place to remember how much in common man has with each other and the significance this plays upon humanity.

Creative Commons License © Julia Dennis

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