New Statuary Work: Our Lady of Prompt Succour

Continuing on with our consideration of new work in the liturgical arts, I wanted to turn readers attention to a new piece of statuary executed by ALBL Oberammergau who are based out of Germany.

One of the very first ways to capture my attention when it comes to new statuary work today is that it should be carved from wood first of all, and second, that it not be left monochromatic but instead is given some colour and other ornamental qualities.

Now to be clear, this isn't to say that there aren't beautiful potentialities for monochromatic statuary -- one need only tour the great churches of Europe to see monochromatic masterpieces in marble for instance. Likewise, how many choir stalls can be found which are nobly ornamented with carved wooden figures, decorated only with wood stain and perhaps the odd bit of gilding? There is a great history here and also a great potential and, in point of fact, these are some of my very most favourite works of sculpture and statuary.

No, the reason I say this is simply that in recent decades we have been treated to very little in the way of high quality, coloured statuary -- and in point of fact, it is quite difficult to successfully pull it off.  Part of the reason for this relative absence may precisely be because it is so difficult to do (and more expensive), and part of it may have to do with a reaction this past half-century to the mass produced, low-quality, painted plaster statuary that we would tend to class as "Saint-Sulpice." One of the noble desires of the Liturgical Movement was to see a revival in the use of more noble and authentic materials for liturgical art -- materials such as wood and stone. Between this and also the spirit of those same times -- which tended towards a break with much that had come before -- we saw a shift away from painted and gilt statuary to a nearly monopoly of monochromatic approaches, often in wood, though sometimes even simply in unpainted plaster (which was hardly an advancement in that particular instance).  Unfortunately it was quite often the case that whatever good might have been gained during this period in terms of nobility of materials could just as easily be negated by a lack of nobility in form -- having frequently seen a modern "primitivist" approach adopted

It is perhaps a shame that coloured statuary has come, at least in our own time, to be associated with l'art Saint-Sulpice, for there is a whole other tradition of it, manifest in the medieval tradition and rooted in places like Germany or in the high calibre gothic revival efforts of the likes of Sir Ninian Comper,  that takes it place alongside the aforementioned masterworks for their nobility of form, of materials and of colour.

The statue I wish to show you today is of Our Lady of Prompt Succour, created for St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church in Spring, Texas which was damaged in a hurricane last year. The selection was purposeful and symbolic as Our Lady of Prompt Succour has under her patronage the protection against hurricanes.

As intimated above, the statue was carved from wood -- Lindenwood specifically -- entirely from hand by ALBL Oberammergau  in Germany.  Very seldom are people treated to seeing these works 'in progress' so I asked our friends there if they could provide readers of LAJ with views of the work as it moved through its various stages up until completion.   I do hope you'll enjoy this insiders view of the artistic process that led to this noble statue in its completed form.

For more information:

ALBL Oberammergau
Woodcarving Studio for Sacred Art

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