January 21, 2020

Do Madonnas Dream of the Holy Infant?

Melanie ODonnell

Earthenware clayDo Madonnas Dream of the Holy Infant?, 201950 cm x 15cm x 15cm

I have long been in thrall to the “Madonna and Child” figure. They are seen in chapels, museums and art galleries all over the world, particularly in Italy. In Florence you can barely walk yards without stumbling upon the beautiful gilded figures. The sculptures and paintings have been in existence for centuries, and the styles have changed with the fashions. We have Flemish Madonna with long curly hair and a large stomach, we have the Madonna of Botticelli with pale colours and beautiful blue eyes, and we have black Madonna with lovely, dark, full haired babies. All beautiful, all worshipped. The thing is I don’t belong to any religion and I ask myself why this fascination? And then I look back at history, B.C. There have always been images of mothers and children, from cave-dwelling times onwards and I realise it represents a universal thought. The image is about peace, security, all-consuming love and our future. During the process of making these sculptures out of clay the material is suffused with all these positive thoughts, and I hope this is conveyed in the work. Certainly for me, it is a transformative experience!