Monday, 16 September 2013

Enclosing the relic

Putting the soft heart into a container has taken me around a variety of ideas and back again to the original idea of a box.

I tried to enclose it in a net of squares made from gold ribbon. The ribbon I found was great for the purpose - a light gold, and rough, so not like most of the satin gold ribbons you find. I thought it turned out well when I fixed the rightangles with bright red thread, and I was thinking about putting gold coloured glass beads at the joins to make it even more 'catholic kitsch'.

Unfortunately when I was constructing the whole thing around the heart, it not only hid the 'realistic' aspects of the heart, but the idea of a reliquary was less strong. I was kicking myself for not painting it out in my sketchbook before starting.

The hoped for contrast between the organic soft heart
and the cold hard gold squares just wasn't working.

While I was finding this, I came across a box which had once contained chess pieces, and this set me thinking that perhaps the original idea of a box reliquary would work better.

The box is plain, a bit roughly made, and undecorated, with a simple gold coloured clasp. Seeing it I was reminded of some of the reliquaries in the Vatican Museum that looked well travelled - as if they had been carried around on long journeys. This related to what I had read in 'A Distant Mirror' by Barbara Tuchmann, about how people in the 13th century did travel a lot more than we think they did, and in fact some noblemen rarely went home  because they were going from one battle to  the next during the 100 years war. They were strongly religious, donated money to invest monasteries etc, and woud hvae had relics with them when they travelled. Meaning that a delicate container would never have done.  

So the next step was to think about how to enhance the contrast between workaday outside and Glorying in God inside, in keeping with medieval styles and colours.

I decided to go with the attractive gold squares on blue which appealed from many of
those medieval images I saw during my researching. It was nice to be able to use a
couching technique in my piece - cf. anglicanum embroidery

I thickened some of the Rioja wire to make it stand out more, and couched that in the shape of a halo/ cross-shapes inside the lid. I wanted it to be irregular, partly to make it catch the eye, and partly to give the idea of a well-used relic. Once I had done that I put pearl beads around the inside to make it more kitsch and relate the imagery to the Virgin Mary's personal imagery of purity and blue.   

This is what it looks like when you open the plain wooden box with the heart inside.

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