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.

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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.

🙂

 

 

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Kingfishers

In the valley below the hill where I live there is a small village with a leat running along the edge of the fields and opposite a row of old and pretty cottages. There are often ducks on the leat and once I saw a very raggedy looking heron trying to catch a fish, but it always feels as if I have experienced a split second of magic when I catch a bright blue iridescent flash out of the corner of my eye.

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See more photos of the Kingfishers and enjoy them on your wall!

 

 

 

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Starlings – are here again!

I’m on starlings again!

During the two weeks of Somerset Art Weeks I set up a temporary studio at the Somerset Crafts gallery. Whilst I was there I made 8 starlings. I wondered how long it would be before the starlings returned from Scandinavia, Germany or the Netherlands (according to the BBC nature website the ones from Scandinavia go to the North and the ones from Germany and the Netherlands come to the South) As I drove home each day my wondering was answered as I saw them stacking up on the telegraph wires.

I made these in the same way as my doves, who incidentally are on their flight home from Greece.

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Here they are at Somerset Crafts flying ahead of the murmuration “Beautiful Black Clouds”

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My work at Somerset Crafts

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