Today’s dispatch is about an angel, a beautiful old piece this one, a rustic salvage of faded charm. A piece of chic & shabby statuary naturally aged & weathered.
I found the piece just as you see it except for its missing wings which, you see, I have taken care of by adding lacy wings.
What really draws me is the etched, worn & weathered patina, the serene, peaceful face peeking out from under layers of dry, flaking dirty white paint.
Old and weathered from being left to naturally distress, the angel brings a graciousness in its simple rustic beauty.
As soon I saw it I fell in love with it! Never mind it had no wings.
Where did this beautiful piece once belong?
In a church? A cemetery?
In the school yard, a convent or an abbey?
A garden perhaps.
Perhaps it’s a guardian angel watching over.
Is it a sad angel, forlorn?
Praying or perhaps weeping. Venerating. Worshipping. Raised eyes to heavenly souls.
The wings are new & came from Jeanne d’ Arc Living. They are made from a rust coloured wire frame that’s covered in very pale pink lace secured taut over the frame. They are light weight & sit perfectly at the back on the piece to which the original wings were attached.
Shabby rusty rosary beads with crucifix seen here on this patinated statue.
Are angels always barefoot? Do they wear shoes? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an angel depicted with shoes or covered feet. If angels wear sandals, flip-flops or slippers I’ve never seen it.
The soft pink fabric flowers are new & bought locally.
I simply draped some cotton lace remnants over those clasped hands.
Chic. Shabby. Crusty.
The mirror was red with bright yellow peeking through here & there when I found it.
Perhaps it’s an archangel, say, Gabriel, Raphael or Michael?
Indeed, I’m a product of the old style Catholic childhood full of saints, saints & more saints, of angels & archangels, cherabim & seraphim. Yep, I had the works & the topping too! Who remembers the May procession, the crowning of Mary in the grotto each May at St. Aloysius at Sevenhill?
I remember, all those years ago, as part of the annual Nativity narrative at my Catholic convent school in Clare SA, one of us would be chosen to play the Archangel Gabriel.
Yes, that’s THE Gabriel, the messenger of God, a very, very important Angel coveted by all. How proud I was when I was picked! Oh, yes, there I was at 10-11 years of age, a blessed child now, a definite shoe-in for Heaven! 🙂
I remember, clearly, being nervous & shaky as I waited in the wings to make my grand entrance even though I had just one or two lines! But I, Gabriel, was there to appear as God’s messenger, to inform the blessed Virgin Mary that she would be giving birth to Jesus, the son of God. This was live theatre! There I was in the thick of it playing a very important person! You bet I was the good little Catholic girl behaving as if I was in the presence of the Lord … & I was!
I can still remember the long white satin gown I wore & the clunky over sized wings. Of course it was mandatory for Gabriel to have big, big wings! Couldn’t have puny wings for Gabriel. He was the Archangel. And, yes I carried a white lily.
And so, the wings were made of whatever could be found at the time – wood, cardboard, calico (muslin), white paint, feathers, lace, sequins, glitter, string & glue. The wings, heavy & cumbersome, were strapped to my back through my shoulders & waist. I felt those wings on my back!
Statue etched by time & the elements.
As I say barefoot.
In the last few years I’ve acquired a small collection of vintage religious & ecclesial art, artifacts & paraphernalia. No, I’m not going through some sort of religious fervour or spiritual renewal! I simply enjoy the artistic and/or historical qualities of items collectible.
Things like pictures, images, clothing, bibles, prayers books, rosaries (prayer beads), crucifixes & all the accoutrements as well as statuary whether chalk-ware, plaster, wood or concrete. I enjoy their aesthetic beauty. Sometimes it’s a serene or mystic quality. A piece might have such intricate beauty & exuberance I want to know who created it. Who was the original craftsman, the artist?
There are no rules, secrets, creeds or dogmas about collecting this stuff.
Pieces can be viewed in their historical context as religious works, depicting Catholic teachings to be respected for what they represented in theology, not in themselves.
Or they can be viewed just as they are. Or as creative works of art without any religious connotation or spiritual meaning. Purely secular.
Some have a mystic quality anyway. But don’t expect any intercession!
There is a serenity for some people in reviving such items for everyday use.
It is not unusual nowadays to find antique & vintage religious items used in home decor such as an old wood framed image of Mary on a wall or an antique French crucifix.
While I personally prefer vintage items, it is not hard these days to find Madonna & angel statues, crucifixes & other religious themed items as they are reproduced in myriad ways for home use.
Garden centres sell them as do gift, novelty & home decor shops. Etsy is full of religious statues many made to look rustic, antiquated & worn.
Jeanne d’ Arc Living (& it’s stockists worldwide) carries various Madonna figurines. One only has to flip through its flagship magazine for a glimpse of the gorgeous Madonna statuary available.
I have come across Madonna & angel statues in various gardens & outdoor spaces around here. I have one in the garden.
Finally, & most interestingly, the people who are passionate about religious collecting are often not Catholic & not religious.