I have been thinking about how our human Gods are made. It seems to begin with a thought or concept that stick in the mind, creating a momentum of its own through constant reinforcement.
I’m thinking about how the power of thought appear in crowd situations. If you watch a demonstration, for instance, it is interesting to see how a group can create an atmosphere so intense that some are compelled to acts of violence and random destruction they would never normally dream of . I’m thinking about the recent student fee demonstration in London, for example, when a young guy dropped a fire extinguisher onto a crowd many feet below. The collective mind takes over in those situations. It is almost as though people become bigger, stronger and bolder when bolstered by the group dynamic. But then the demonstration is over and the mood deflates.
The same must be true when Gods are created. Except in this case we have a continuity in the group when led in worship by a priest/ess or guru. A God/ess is created to explain the primal force of creation, for instance – or thunder, rain or spring. The worship of these deities is upheld through ceremonies and rituals over centuries, and the power of these collected thoughts create a momentum of its own. Over the years the myths change; Inannas young husband, Dimuzu, destined to die and then rise again for the good of the land, gives way to a new myth about the virgin born King. And so on. But behind it all lies a need to personify and communicate with our creator, I think.
So, I have been busy creating some ceramic House Gods on my own ! I was inspired by the Roman Gods Lares and Penates. In Rome, each family had their own set of personal Gods to safe guard against house fire, ill health, redundancy and bad luck.
My House God sculptures are altogether more frivolous. They are made of smoke fired and glazed ceramics and they’re between 7-10” tall.
And here is the moment some of them are born out of a smoke firing bin
The ceramic torso vase looks pretty different from side to side, and that is down to what happened during the smoke firing process. I used red Botz glaze for the hearts,
while the body had a wash of copper, manganese and red iron oxide. It is glazed with transparent glaze on the inside to render it water tight and also to add a bit of contrast to the matt finish outside.
So here I am struggling with my Sky God, Oannes. As many other ancient Gods he is believed to have travelled from the dog star Sirius in a heavenly
ship, an ancient alien who taught the early Sumerians all they knew about civilisation.
And try as I might, I can’t get down to the serious business of homage; I would like to create a ceramic sculpture of Oannes. I have spent entire days in my studio, surrounded by fish heads from the beach and with tales from ancient Babylon and Mali whirling in my mind – I still come up with frippery.
Here is Cupid At least he has wings, so I am on the right track. I believe I’m going to make an entire new ceramic House God series based on this formula; Gods of Benevolence and Delight…
To see more, please go to my website at www.annakeiller.com
As part of my house god series I wanted to make a sculpture of Oannes – a Babylonian God that is depicted as half man half fish and believed to have taught the ancient Babylonians everything they knew about farming, writing and science. The Dogons have similar Gods they call the Nommo. I spent a frustrating day trying to sculpt a convincing fish head in clay, and after five attempts I gave up and instead of the majestic Oannes emerged….
I am rather pleased with the koi. However, I have a cunning plan, and I now know how to make fish heads.
This is a link to some more House Gods
Botz is a German factory that makes some lovely ceramic glazes. Over the years I have experimented using them with my smoke firing techniques, and last week Botz sent me a box full of glazes in exchange for one of my smoke fired House God sculptures.
I have found that some glazes improve (to my mind) when they are put in the sawdust and set alight and here are some examples;
This torso on the left has been glazed with Botz Blaueffect glaze. And here is the same torso after it has been smoke fired.
This House God sculpture has also been glazed with Blaueffect and then smoke fired. I love how the copper in the glaze has turned red in the fire…
I am looking at spirals. They are everywhere: from enormous spiral galaxies made up of millions of stars to the tiny spirals on the tip of my fingers.
I use spirals a lot in my work. To me it is a sacred symbol. It has been used since palaeolithic times to symbolise fertility and the Great Godess. The spirals in this torso celebrate the Godess as the sea.
To see more blogs about my ceramic sculptures, smoke firing, life casting and work shops, please scroll down the page.