Some background is needed for my next piece. I read a thought-provoking book last year called ‘The Alphabet Versus the Goddess’ by Leonard Slain, it gives lots of details about the fact that in pre-literate cultures (i.e.. every culture in the world before they started using alphabets/writing) the female was revered as Goddess and creator of life. In all these cultures there are thousands of examples of statues and drawings dedicated to the Goddess. These images accentuate and exalt feminine attributes. This is a huge contrast to the images I’ve been surrounded by growing up, where females are depicted from a patriarchal societies’ perspective. We’re either weak and feeble looking, slutty, or aggressive. Female and feminist artists have been redressing the balance and producing images of women from women’s perspectives. More and more people now realise women deserve the respect that’s been stripped from them for centuries, but sadly not all. It’s quite depressing growing up in a female body sometimes; fearing rape, humiliation for not fitting a socially constructed ideal of female beauty, not being taken seriously, being misunderstood and disregarded when monthly periods alter moods, being paid less for an equivalent job than a male colleague, and much recorded occurrences of everyday sexism.
I made this statue in an art class attended mostly by ladies older than myself, I could tell a lot of them were uncomfortable with even looking at it. Maybe we’ve become disconnected with what we should be proud of. It’s an image of femaleness in the mould of the ancient statues found in the earliest civilisations.
Below are some examples from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, UK. Dating between 1550 BCE and AD 200 from Egypt.
My hand-made terracotta statue with exaggerated hips and breasts is based on Sumerian Goddess statues from c. 2000 BCE and Phoenician statues from 600-500 BCE. They’re often depicted holding their breasts, proud of the natural life-giving and sustaining power of females.