Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The BVM in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral

(I've been writing all afternoon which may account for my state of mind). This statue, in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral, depicts The Virgin at the moment of conception, as she utters the words from St Luke's Gospel: "Behold the Handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word".

Germaine Greer has some choice words in the Guardian for Sept 10th on this statue commissioned in 2000 by the Dean and Chapter, I believe:-

It takes what Italians call un bel coraggio to depict the moment of the Incarnation, but the sculptor, David Wynne, is not a man to boggle, especially when he has the friendship and support of that most powerful and discriminating patron of the arts, HRH the Prince of Wales. Wynne shrugged off the shock and distress of the faithful of Ely, ignoring remarks in the local media that the statue looks like Charlie Dimmock, in reference perhaps to its evident bra-lessness. Its nose is much wider and flatter than Charlie's, cheekbones ditto and its eyes appear distinctly slanted; it actually looks more like Genghis Khan in a huge blond wig.

We've visited it with my niece. It is extraordinary. What do you think??


johnieb said...

I'd like to see it in locus; "extraordinary" huh? It's remarkable from this one photograph: resonant; wouldn't it be fascinating to see how it evolves over time?

Orson Carte said...

I live in Ely, and I'm not sure whether the controversy over the statue is real or imagined.

Certainly it's opposed by both Germaine Greer and the News of the World - strange bedfellows?

I've always felt the Lady Chapel was a mournful, sad place, its former glories wrecked by bigots from an earlier time.

In my opinion, the statue is an antidote to that feeling - something bright, strong, powerful.

Perhaps it's an echo of the Lady Chapel of long ago, which was certainly brightly-coloured and vibrant, by all accounts.

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