News from the Studio; Venus and I
Progress pictures of current work; Charcoal drawings inspired by the Venus of Willendorf
I am in the process of creating two charcoal and paint, circular drawings inspired by the Venus of Willendorf statue, the first known example of a sculpted female form. What interests me about this figure is not only the subject matter, but the fact that it is the first known sculpture of a female body and we have no idea what its purpose was.
We can only speculate that it was a symbol of fertility or a kind of ‘good luck’ charm used in fertility rituals. This is because of the apparent emphasis on the genitals, breasts and buttocks. It is also speculated that it could have had a pornographic function or even been made as a self -portrait. Because of its small size, it was thought to be made to be carried around or held in one’s hands during rituals. But essentially we have no idea.
The Venus figurines were made by prehistoric civilisations, mostly in Europe, but stretching as far as Serbia and Asia. There have been no male figures found. How long have we been mystified by the reproductive functions that are made visible through the female body? It seems it’s what drives us in everything we make and and do and reflected subconsciously in the shape of our surroundings and objects. It seems that everything is driven by this pulse of life. In this way I see sex and spirituality as inextricably linked.
The nickname ‘Venus’ is now seen as controversial because of its western origin and associations with an idealised, western, female beauty and ideology. In academia the statue is now to be know as the “Woman of Willendorf”. I prefer ‘Venus of Willendorf’ personally, why shouldn’t she be a goddess? 🙂
In these pieces I wanted her to come to life. As a figure with associations of fertility and child birth, I wanted her to be ‘bursting from the seams’ if you will, about to pop out of her confined womb-like space and out of her stigma as fertility object. From a tiny sculpture apparently designed to fit in your palm, to the dynamic, large scale charcoal body that threatens to burst forth from her gender constraints.
Photo of Venus statue accredited to Matthias Kabel