In the spirit of Easter, I wanted to reflect on one of my earliest art exhibitions and subsequent collections. My art show 'Divino Amore' hosted at the Castello di Gabbiano near Florence was inspired by the most timeless of all love stories: the Madonna and Child.
Italy, the home of so much iconic religious art, gave me the perfect excuse to immerse myself in the museums and churches whose walls are decorated with it. I would stop at the occasional street shine, inspired by the small but meaningful way in which the decorative arts were used to bring religious comfort to the masses.
What inspired me about the Madonna and Child as an image wasn't purely it's religious significance, but also its' universal message. It is so broadly understood as a timeless display of love and devotion.
My Madonna collection juxtaposes familiar iconography with decorative elements. Found papers bought from Florentine stationery shops, small seashells and gemstones give the artworks accessibility and playfulness: embellishment that both exalts their subject matter, and moves it away from the purely allegorical.
The framing on the original collages was also a large part of the process. I used a local Florentine framer whose business had been established many generations ago to find the most complementary gilded gold and unusual frames. They become part of the artwork, and part of the history and ornamental narrative of the piece.
Original artwork, price available upon request.
The small Madonnas are the result of playing with geometric compositions in the style of Mondrian using cut offs from traditional Florentine marbled paper and ephemera. The collision of the old and the new has always been a central theme to my work and nowhere is this more evident than my this series.
The smaller format mimics the street shrines or devotional charms carried around for good luck and protection. Moving away from the more grandiose adornment of the larger scale images, they have a more organic and intimate feel.
The challenge of creating a homeware collection for these images lay in their significance. How would people feel about an icon that is ultimately interwoven with religious lore sitting in their living room?
I decided that I would let myself be led by the more ornamental pieces that combined rich colours with maximalist textures and prints as the foundation for the range.
What pleasantly surprised me was the positive response these pieces received from my audience. It became clear to me that people are already largely attached to this enduring image and they were more than ready to welcome my particular interpretation of it into their homes.
You can browse the full range of digital prints available here.
Wishing you all a happy Easter.