Madonnas

Madonnas

A visit to the Convent of St Agnes in Prague in 2017 took me by surprise. The convent houses a famous collection of medieval art from Bohemia. I was ready to pass through quickly, but things turned out differently.

The galleries were full of scores of wooden Madonna statues. I was expecting the usual saintly faces of Mary. Instead these had every kind of expression- whimsical, distraught, ecstatic, resigned, bored, worried, cross. I wandered and took lots of photos.

A few months later I started painting them. As I worked I got a strong feeling that I was trying to let each woman out to tell her story. I kept working on each one until they were saying something to me.

I painted straight onto bare plywood with both acrylic and oil paints and sometimes woodstain. I sanded the paint back, and polished with bees wax to show up the beautiful grain. It almost felt as though I was doing the sculpture again, but trying to understand them one woman to another.

A hand across time maybe.