I am showing at ILLUMINATE HERSTORY EXHIBITION, an International Women's Day Event with Helen Pankhurst at St Catherine's Hall, Oxford next week.* Feeling particularly happy to be showing SAINT UNCUMBER, a piece made to raise funds for EAVES Charity for Women, an essential service that supported trafficked women and victims of domestic violence until its funding was cut by the coalition government.
In the middle ages, statues of this bearded woman on a cross, were common in churches all over Europe (there is one in the Henry VII chapel in Westminster Abbey). HER STORY is that she prayed for a beard to avoid marriage; the beard scared off her suitor, but unfortunately, her father then had her crucified. In his masterly Religion and the Decline of Magic**, Keith Thomas explains how Uncumber became a beacon for women who wanted to rid themselves of husbands. They would lay ears of wheat at her statue as prayers for liberation. A symbol of hope at a time when a woman was her husband's property, I believe that, in these days of gender fluidity and hipster beards, this androgynous icon is due a comeback.
SAINT UNCUMBER Mixed Media
* Illuminate Herstory: https://www.facebook.com/events/1202726563192895/ ** Religion and the Decline of Magic https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Religion_and_the_Decline_of_Magic.html?id=yQwSAQAAIAAJ