Monday, November 1, 2010

Morrigan, armed and disarmed

After the deep journey of the Samhain gathering, I went out to work on the Morrigan statue today. She was with us in the ritual and through the haunted night, and still very present while I worked, layering resin onto the torso to strengthen it. I listened to the cool November wind in the pines and the calling of ravens, the ting-ting-ting of the hammer on the anvil and thought about ancestors.

All the things our ancestors made, things we either cherish or forget. Old tools handed down or lost in a junk store somewhere. That tired quilt your mother kept. Old books, houses, handkerchiefs, weapons. Your very bones. The work of our ancestors' hands. You and I, each of us came from a line of ancestors. What did their hands, their minds make? Even if these things were not handed down to you, they are somewhere, whispering a story of the lives that shaped them. That story, and those works, are your inheritance.

I thought about the work of my hands, this big work of devotional art that I am driven to create. I thought about the work of my husband's hands as he hammered down in the smithy. I thought, I am an ancestor. You, each of us is an ancestor. Even if you never have children yourself, you are part of a generation, and to those who come after, you will be an ancestor. What are the works of our hands? What are we building? Would your ancestors take pride in the works you are creating? Will your descendants?

In a little while, Shannon came up from the forge with a spear for the Morrigan, iron hafted on a long copper shaft. I fitted it on to the statue; She was armed.

Then while I bent down to clean my brushes before laying on the next layer of resin, the wind came up and knocked the statue over. She fell backwards against a pile of bricks. The right shoulder cracked open just before the join, and the left shoulder was crushed in where it impacted. I sat down, frustrated. I suppose the statue is getting a bit top-heavy and poorly balanced because of the arms and now an iron spearhead poised out in front; the little base the mannequin came with is no longer adequate to hold it up. I considered stopping work for the day. Eventually I  took a long metal stake and pounded it in to the ground in my yard, and slid the hollow leg of the statue down over it. Now She was pretty firmly in place and I could keep working.

Start again, just like on day one, reinforcing the shoulder joins. They were the weakest part of the statue to begin with, and I don't know if I can make them strong enough to hold the weight they need to when I start adding the framework for the cloak. I don't really know what I'm doing, but I'm doing it anyway. You build, working toward something; sometimes it falls down, or you fall down. You breathe, get up, you keep on working. Our ancestors worked their way through glaciations, famines, wars, emigrations, always moving forward. If anyone in your ancestral line gave up on their journey, that line might not have been carried forward to your hands. We are the inheritors of a heroic legacy. No matter who you are, there are heroes in your line. Human beings who worked, suffered, sacrificed, quietly building your inheritance. Now it's your turn.

Statue as of November 1. Spear crafted for me by my awesome husband Shannon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Morrigan statue, stage two

The last two sessions of work on the statue have been armoring the skin of the mannequin with layers of fiber-matting and fiberglass resin, to give more strength and structural integrity to the statue before I start adding metal structures to it. Before I started this step, I also sanded the whole surface of the mannequin. That's the reason for the creepy zombie-eyed look as some of the paint was sanded off the eyes. If you are thinking to yourself, "That does not look anything like a goddess, yet," you are correct. I'm keeping the faith that it will eventually!

Armoring the skin of the mannequin.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Morrigan Statue, day one.

Today I started work on the Morrigan statue. This will be a life-size sculpture in fiberglass, metal, and metal filler. When She's finished She will be installed at the shrine site that we have dedicated to the Morrigan here at Stone City, atop a cluster of five red-encrusted boulders on a lonely hilltop to the west of the Henge.

The vision for the statue is a life-size figure of the Great Queen, with arms outstretched, a spear in one hand and the other open as if speaking a prophecy. She wears a cloak that billows out to the sides and in front of Her. Her hair is loose and tumbling as if in the winds of war. Viewed from the back, Her hair forms the head of a great raven, whose wings spread out to either side forming the back side of the cloak. She's naked under the cloak, with Pictish symbols drawn on Her skin. Her body is strong, muscular, and beautiful, yet you see the shadow of a skeleton emerging from the surface of Her skin.

That's the vision - if I can pull it off. The sculpturing process is experimental for me, because I've done auto body work in the media that I'm using, but I've never tried using them to make a big statue. So I'm learning as I go. I began with a fiberglass mannequin and will build the sculpture out using that as a base. Today's work was to fix the arms in the forward position and spread them into a wide stance. Next stage, attaching wire cloth to form the basis for the cloak and hair.

This is, of course, a devotional work for me. Part of my process when I connect with the Gods is to do devotional art as a way of opening myself up to Their power. As I find inspiration about how the art work should look and feel, I learn things about Them; the creative process brings out an experiential understanding of Their iconography, and the numinous meanings contained within Their imagery. This will be the third in a series of devotional works I have done for the Morrigan. I began with a small altar statue (the one designed by Paul Borda), which I bought in the unfinished version and hand painted, about 10 years ago. The second work was an oil painting, which I believe there's an image of posted here, a multifaceted portrait. This statue will be the third work. I notice that they seem to be getting bigger every time... we'll see what She asks of me next, if I manage to complete this statue as I've imagined it.

Me, hugging the mannequin as I try to adjust it.

The mannequin.

Showing the alterations I made to spread the arms in a wider stance.