The Robert Plant Guardian Bird of Relics

And so to the final one of the six birds! It’s Robert Plant, our wonderful living rock legend!

I thought it would be nice to have someone who is still alive as inspiration for a guardian bird. I chose Mr. Plant because of his connections with Glastonbury and the Abbey itself. In 2014 for the first time after many years of worshipping him as front man of Led Zeppelin I got to see him play live at Glastonbury Abbey with his new band the ‘Sensational Space Shifters’. I went with my partner and our two youngest (teenagers) . It was a fantastic concert, I love the mix of old and new songs, blending world music musicians and sounds  into the old Led Zepp rock songs such as ‘Whole Lotta Love’

But his most iconic song that seemed to fit the ‘religious theme’ was of course the much played and over played Stairway to Heaven. Coming from a family of rock music lovers, I found my younger teenage years progressed into punk (or was that regressed?) and then back to rock. (I won’t tell you about my crush on David Essex when I was 10, luckily Sting came along at just the right time to save me from embarrassment with my friends! Shh! Did I really just tell you that?)

The Four Symbols or Led Zeppelin 1V as it’s more commonly known (the album with the song Stairway to Heaven) was played frequently in my house and various tracks were played in the pub where I would spend my evenings after college. But the first time I really sat down and listened to the whole album was when I was 18.  It was a night after the pub with a friend of a friend who offered to put me up on his sofa to save me from a very long walk home in the dark. I had a tendency to listen to music but not the words in those days, so as we listened he handed me a bit of paper which had the words to the song written down. That piece of paper was a magical script , it was as if each word was made of gold and silver, I had treasure in my pocket and  I could also sing along!

The Robert Plant Guardian bird (cement structure, stained glass, hand gilded metal leaf glass, shell rounds, glass beads, hand painted eyes, wire)

The feather on the heart of the bird is Robert Plant’s symbol on the Four Symbols album. Each member of the band had a symbol, the feather was designed by Mr. Plant being based on the feather of Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of justice and fairness that came from the mythical lost Continent of Mu.

 

Stairway to Heaven song relic snow globe

I made the stairway with marble cubes and gilded them in gold and metal leaf.

Here’s the bird in the exhibition…

I think I just made you a Saint, oh Mr. Robert Plant!

😉

 Traces Revealed continues until January 28th 2018.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements

Saint Dunstan Guardian Bird of Relics

The penultimate guardian bird of relics made for  the Traces Revealed exhibition at Glastonbury Abbey.

Born in Baltonsborough near Glastonbury, Saint Dunstan was guided by the Irish monks in the 10th Century A.D at Glastonbury Abbey. Later he became abbot of the Abbey. When he was canonised after his death, his patronage included metalsmiths, goldsmiths, silversmiths, musicians and locksmiths. He was very talented in the arts including illumination and writing. It’s possible he might have built the glass kiln that was discovered in archaeological digs at the abbey.

But my favourite story has to be about his struggle with evil. After being accused of witchcraft and thrown into a cesspit he travelled to Winchester where he contracted leprosy. After he recovered he returned to Glastonbury abbey and built himself a small cell. It was here that the devil tried to tempt him so with his blacksmith tongs he took off the devils nose and kept it in a cage!

I have a strange little story too. I had made the devils nose and it was sitting behind me in a cage whilst I was making the Saint Dunstan guardian bird …

I could hear a rustling noise and a sort of scratching sound. I thought it was probably a mouse until I had a real shock when I turned around. The devils nose was shaking and it appeared to be moving, like it was crawling slowly out of the cage! I noticed the door of the cage was open so I was very brave at this point and I quickly grabbed the cage and shut the little door. Later when I had calmed down I opened the little door, grabbed the nose, shouted at it and then smeared it with silicone and stuck it to the inside of the cage in the hope it would stay still! If you look at the last post you can see the finished bird with the nose in the cage. In the exhibition the door is open so you can see the nose …but I hope the staff remember to close the little door at night!

Saint Dunstan Guardian bird of relics (cement structure, stained glass, hand gilded copper leaf glass, van gogh glass, shell rounds, hand painted eyes)

Here we go … hope you are ready for this … a quick glimpse of non such more repulsive as the devils nose!!

Yuck! Want a closer look?

the devils nose (copper gilded and distressed fimo clay, wire nose hairs, glass boils!)

 

You can see this one plus the guardian birds of relics of 2 other saints, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere birds and a living rock legend guardian bird, plus other pieces of work at Glastonbury Abbey’s exhibition Traces Revealed which continues until January 28th 2018.

🙂

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

St.Brigid Guardian Bird of Relics

It is said that the Irish Saint Brigid (of Kildare) visited Beckery chapel just outside Glastonbury in the 5th Century AD. Although the chapel is no longer there I went to find the hill (Brides mound) where it once was. I wish I had been in on the recent excavations where they re-found seven skeletons for carbon dating. (Excavations during the 1960’s uncovered a cemetery of at least 50 skeletons believed to be monks who used the chapel) It might have been easier to find if I had gone with the archaeologists!

Me and my partner spent several hours trying to find the hill, it didn’t seem to be where google maps said it was. We had to resort to books in the library and finally after a good walk along the river we found it!

The hill was quite unremarkable and there was no evidence of recent excavations, they did a good job of covering it all up again.

But it has a good view of one of the old tannery buildings and the Tor in the distance!

 

Offerings on the mound.

Saint Brigid is venerated in Glastonbury as the original Celtic goddess who holds the eternal flame as midwife and earth mother. In the town there is the Saint Brigid healing centre and just under the Tor there is a shrine at the White Spring .

On the walls of St. Patrick’s Chapel at the Abbey, murals painted by Fleur Kelly depict the saints in a style appropriate to early 16th Century. This is Saint Brigid depicted with a cow. She is patron saint of many things including milk maids!

Saint Brigid by Fleur Kelly

To return to the story, when Saint Brigid left Beckery Chapel legend has it that she left some of her belongings behind; a bell, some jewellery and her bag. (I don’t know why she would leave her bag behind, perhaps she in a hurry or maybe she never returned to Kildare and died at Beckery)

I chose to make her bag for the Guardian bird’s relic. I used cement and mesh and gilded it in silver leaf, then stained it with tea and rust to make it look old. I hung plastic cows on the bottom as a nod to her patronage whilst referring to the modern plastic collectible world our kids live in. The cows were black and white Friesians but I painted them badly in white with red horns, the colours associated with her cow.

Saint Brigid’s bag with kitsch overtones

Saint Brigid Guardian bird (stained glass, hand-gilded glass, hand painted eyes, metal buttons, shell rounds)

The heart bears the Saint Brigid cross which was a Celtic symbol associated with Brigid. It was originally made of straw, symbolised the sun and was hung above people’s doors to warn off evil.

This is the fourth Guardian bird in the series, please refer to the last posts to read about the others!

You can see this one plus the guardian birds of relics of 2 other saints, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere birds and a living rock legend guardian bird, plus other pieces of work at Glastonbury Abbey’s exhibition Traces Revealed which continues until January 28th 2018.

🙂

Save

Save

Save

Save

St. Joseph of Arimathea Guardian Bird of Relics

Legend has it that Saint Joseph of Arimathea came to Glastonbury to spread the Christian faith with the two cruets full of Christ’s blood and sweat. When he arrived he walked up Wearyall (now Wirral) hill and on reaching the top he stopped and exclaimed something like “Since we be weary all here we will rest” (hence the name Wearyall hill). There he thrust his staff into the ground and it took root forming a hawthorn tree. The tree flowered twice a year, once in Spring and once at Christmas. It then suffered hundreds of years of people cutting off branches and carving names into the trunk but it still flowered every year. Later in the 17th century during the Civil war it was considered a superstitious relic and burnt by the Roundheads. However many cuttings were taken and another tree was planted in 1951.

The 1951 tree still stands but was vandalised in 2010, and as you see in true Glastonbury form, spiritual ideas live on by the continual ritual of tying prayer ribbons to it. Whether they are to worship Joseph, or the tree as a relic, or to find peace and a spiritual awakening remains to be seen.  People have different reasons. The ritual is associated with Celtic, Shaman and Tibetan Buddhist deities. In Glastonbury people explore and practice all of these religions, there many ways to find enlightenment!  I find it interesting how pre-Christian religions and paganism unite with Christianity so often, each borrowing stories from each other for their own beliefs.

Here’s another Glastonbury thorn at the Abbey in front of Saint Patrick’s chapel.

St. Joseph of Arimathea  is often symbolised with the two cruets of Christ’s blood and sweat that he collected when he hung from the cross. It is possible Joseph brought the cruets with him to Glastonbury as well as the holy grail, if the cruets weren’t themselves the original grail that is! (More about the holy grail later 😉 )

The Guardian Bird of Saint Joseph of Arimathea

Saint Joseph of Arimathea Guardian Bird of Relics (cement structure, stained glass, hand gilded metal leaf glass, glass cabochons, millefiori, shell rounds, hand painted eyes, wire, liquid leaf)

The heart bears a hawthorn leaf to represent Saint Joseph of Arimathea.

cruets (espresso cups, acrylic gems, resin, plastic, paint) Comparing the veneration of the sacred cruets with the glorification of the coffee culture.

This is the third guardian bird in my series of six. You can read about the King Arthur bird and the Queen Guinevere bird here

You can see this one plus the guardian birds of relics of 2 other saints, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere birds and a living legend rock star bird, and other pieces of work at Glastonbury Abbey’s exhibition Traces Revealed which continues until January 28th 2018.

🙂

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

King Arthur and Queen Guinevere Guardian Birds of relics

And so the magic begins! …The Guardian birds have risen from their hidden hollows beneath the Tor . The precious relics tightly carried in their claws, to a place of safety in the Abbey, where pilgrims and folk from the kingdom of Somerset and beyond can gaze upon them in wonder.

I chose to use the double headed eagle as the guardians of the relics. In the abbey double headed eagles are depicted on  medieval terracotta tiles. They were a heraldic emblem, believed to be the coat of arms of Richard, the Earl of Cornwall as King of the Romans. After further research about the bird I found out that in ancient middle eastern cultures the bird was a protective and magical character, while later in the Byzantine period in Greece, Venice and Russia it became an emblem of the empire. Then it was adopted by the patriarch as a symbol of the Orthodox church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tiles with yellowing designs are quite worn but you can still see the double headed eagles.

As promised here are the Guardian birds of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere’s relics. The first two of six birds…

Guardian bird of King Arthur’s relics

KIng Arthur Guardian bird of relics (cement structure, gilded edges and back of wings, stained glass, hand gilded metal leaf glass, Vintage rhinestones, shell rounds, hand painted eyes, glass beads, wire)

 

The heart of the double-headed eagle bears the sword hilt, Excalibur, to represent King Arthur.

 

Guardian bird of Queen Guinevere’s relics

 

Queen Guinevere guardian bird of relics (cement structure with gilded wings edges and backs, metal beads, shell rounds, acrylic and glass gemstones, stained glass, hand gilded metal leaf glass, some pieces with gilded celtic designs, millefiori, hand painted eyes)

The heart of the double-headed eagle bears a crown to represent Queen Guinevere.

I used letraset for the words on the ribbon … haven’t used that since the early 80’s!

The relics I have made are mostly playful analogies, comparing the Catholic tradition of the veneration of relics with modern day trends and culture and of souvenir gifts.

If you want to know more about the bone and the ribbon read the last post!

You can see these plus the guardian birds of relics of 3 saints and a living legend rock star and more at Glastonbury Abbey’s exhibition Traces Revealed which continues until January 28th 2018.

🙂

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Traces Revealed exhibition at Glastonbury Abbey

I’ve been working flat out for several months and now find myself completely enclosed in a Medieval fantasy. It’s weird how the more you work on a theme the more mad and obsessed you become. However I have nearly finished the exhibits for this exhibition “Traces Revealed“.  I’ll be exhibiting with two  Somerset artists, Alicia Merrett, known for her colourful map quilts and Hiro Takahashi, who makes amazing textured ceramic sculptures.

I will be presenting new work inspired by Glastonbury Abbey’s legends and historical past. The relics of King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, three saints and a rock star! The rock star is still alive and performing and he has a connection with the Abbey.
There will be birds (of course) … Guardians of the relics who keep them safe in tunnels under the Tor.
My work is a mix of truth and fantasy, old and new. The relics are mostly playful analogies, comparing the Catholic tradition of the veneration of relics with modern day trends and culture and the souvenir gift shop in general.

I hope some of you will be able to attend the exhibition. As it continues until January there will be plenty of chances!

Here is the bone of King Arthur as a taster … !

I’ll be adding posts in the next few weeks about each Guardian bird and the relics so keep your eyes open and follow along!

🙂

Save

Save

What do the four seasons, four birds, and a key have in common?

This school was a joy to work with. A small primary school of just over 100 pupils, every child was able to take part in making it.

I was sent lots of drawings from the children to use for a design and spent a day sketching possibilities and a final cartoon.  I spent a couple of days preparing sections so that we could get on with it on the two days in school allocated for the mosaic.

The sections were made indirect on sticky back plastic using pva glue.  I learnt my lesson using this method without the glue last year with another school. As the children touch the sticky back and rearrange tiles it stops sticking the tiles to the plastic which makes turning over and fixing to the board impossible. Last year I had to stick mesh to the back of the sections with tile cement before I could install them on the board.

Trying out this method of sticky back plus pva glue beforehand I found that once the section was transferred to the board and the sticky back plastic pulled off there was less glue residue left on the tiles than when using straight plastic, because the sticky back holds onto to it, so I’ll be using this method for my own projects in the future!

We had 12 sections with two children working on each section. I also had a good team of eager parent helpers that I couldn’t have done without!

The oldest children love cutting tiles!

After the sections were finished they were left to dry over night and the next day I was in early with the parent helpers to transfer them to the board. Then the children filled in the snow border and the background spaces.

The adhesive is a quick drying one which meant we didn’t have to wait long before taking off the plastic and grouting.

Et Voila!

The border is made up of the four class names … Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter and in the corners are the 4 house names …Buzzards, Ospreys, Kestrels and Harriers. The school motif is the key…Keevil.

Keevil school … you are the greatest!

🙂

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save