Deborah Bell draws her inspiration from art made throughout the world, from different cultures and from past times.
At one time a brick factory gave Bell some semi-hardened brick-clay to work with. The brick-clay came in long, large, column-like shapes. She began to carve tall figures that, to her, were suggested by these shapes. These figures soon reminded her of the draped vertical figures carved onto the facades of late mediaeval cathedrals in Europe.
The verticality of these standing figures is repeated and accentuated by the lines of drapery – making them seem light and airy, and giving a sense of movement too.
Bell said: “Working with carving, and with this columnar form, made me remember quite different conventions and traditions… memories of Gothic imagery, guardian doorposts…
I liked the idea of angels who hold this world in place, and protect us…”
Carved in stone on the original cathedrals, these figures would emphasise the verticality of the whole cathedral, as if the whole structure was reaching spiritually upward.
Figures above were taken down from the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. Vandalised during the French Revolution in the 1790s, their “beheading” was an act of violent protest by the poor against the decadent Royal regime of France at the time. These statues (and their heads, which were found only in the 1970s) are at the Musée Cluny, France.