The ‘Goddess’ Figurines
The ‘Goddess’ figurines reveal the power of the ancient world.
Influences from many cultures, including Ancient Greece, the Maya from Central America and Gauguin’s paintings are incorporated into the form and design.
Symbols from the Maya Underworld – a mythic bird, feathers, glyph shapes, decorate the figurines who emerge from exotic jungle foliage, the leaves representing the power of the earth. The leaves are evolving into feathers and butterfly wings, and are linked to the mythic form of the ‘World Tree’, the wings are symbolic of flight to other levels of consciousness.
Opposites and the resolution of difference have always interested me, and the figurines combine the stillness and power of Greek sculptures with the sensuous languid quality of Gauguin’s women and girls; the leaves are a symbol of nature, enclosing and protecting, but also the source of power for the goddess.
The sculptures slide between and express aspects of the feminine archetypes of young girl, goddess, earth mother, femme fatale, and have the power of ancient mythic artefacts.
The ‘Goddess’ sculptures are hand modelled in oxidized stoneware clays, colour is applied using a variety of slips and glazes.
Ceramic Replicas of Animal Figurines
The archaeology site of Lamanai is on the New river Lagoon, and Santa Rita is a small site near the modern day town of Corozal at the mouth of the New River.
Lamanai has a wide range of vessels and figurines based on animal forms from the Preclassic through to the 17th century Historic Period. Although some are displayed in Museums, they are mostly damaged and incomplete, with only a few traces of the original stucco painting remaining.
The animal figurines represented by these replicas date from the final years of the Maya civilization at Lamanai, and span the two hundred years from around 1500AD to the late 1600s.
The figurines are lively and expressive representations of creatures who live in the nearby lagoon, river and sea – crocodiles, turtles, fish and sharks; but land animals such as the jaguar and deer are also included. The figurines are generally composite creatures incorporating features and characteristics of more than one animal.
The figurines express the continuation and use of symbols stretching back to the Olmec era, circa 1500 B.C. and they have a liveliness of line and form that echoes Maya Classic art at its best yet without the formality that was of necessity demanded by a highly structured society.
However the open necked vessel-like forms representing creatures from the land, river, sea, and the mythological Underworld, are so far unique to this area of northern Belize. There is no loss of the observational skills and love of the natural world of their ancestors by these Postclassic artists from Lamanai and Santa Rita , and this is coupled with a strong continuation of the use of traditional imagery to express the sacred.
Freed from the constraints of a tight social hierarchy which would have pertained in earlier times, the Postclassic Maya potters produced works of art which are powerful statements yet accessible to modern minds. For although the creatures depicted have a religious and symbolic importance to the Maya , their main impact is in the powerful and imaginative use of form, a continuation of a strong artistic tradition going back at least two thousand years.
Throughout their history, the Maya were concerned with the uniting of spiritual opposites, and these figurines are embodiments of this idea: creatures of the land – jaguar and deer – are combined with those of water – crocodiles, turtles, fish and sharks, the heads of deities or shaman figures inside the jaws represent a return to origins, the triumph of life over death and an expression of the creative forces of the Underworld.
Classic art and the Postclassic codices suggest that the Maya thought of the earth as the back of a crocodile resting in a pool filled with waterlilies. Its counterpart in the sky was a double headed serpent, an idea which was reinforced by the fact that the word for sky, kaan or chan, is a homonym for snake. This serpent may also represent the ecliptic, the apparent path of the sun, moon, Venus and other celestial bodies, hence some of the crocodile figurines have modelled spots on their bodies, serving a dual purpose of representing both roughened scaly skin and the heavenly bodies.
Making the replicas
The ceramic replicas are made from fired clay in much the same way as the originals. They are fired to around 1050 deg.C which ensures that the clay is sufficiently hard to withstand normal handling.
The original figurines were not glazed, but were covered with a white lime stucco and then painted with natural earth pigments. Most retain sufficient traces of colour to be able to replicate the patterns and colouring, and the same techniques have been used to colour the replicas. A base coat of white lime is applied after firing, and then natural earth pigments are mixed with a binding medium before the paint is applied to the figurines.
Interested in buying prints or replicas
Most images can be produced to customer specification; please send details of the space in which you intend to place the artwork, or budgetary guidelines, along with any other information you feel will help.
I can provide prices for work on canvas, watercolour paper and prints.
The prices shown below are only intended as a guide as there are various options available for most of my work.
Oil Paintings: Prints can be purchased on canvas from £70, watercolour or art paper from £20. Paintings can be produced up to 23″x 33″. Original canvases can also be purchased.
Ceramic Replicas and Sculptures: All ceramics are handmade to order. From £60.00
Lamanai Pictures: Prints can be purchased and produced up to 16½”x 23″.
Lamanai Rubbings: Stela 9
Multi -coloured – as shown – $350 US
One colour – dark blue or terracotta – $250 US