Votive II

Catherine Heard


Votive I was created in response to the historical tradition of wax votive offerings after a summer residency in Caen at the Centre D’Art Contemporain in 2006.   In a practice that traces back to the Roman era, beeswax molded into the shape of a figure or body part was a traditional offering to saints in Normandy. Today this practice has been superseded by the more common practice of lighting candles, and one rarely sees the simple beeswax models that used to be familiar.  

Votive II was created to respond to the richly ornamented interior of St. Anne’s Anglican Church.  Over the course of the installation, wax gradually obscured the faces of the sculptures, accumulated on plinths supporting them, and on the floor beneath.

 Votive I and Votive II are sculptures that refer to the fragility of the human body, and the strong emotions connected to the passages of birth, illness and death that are expressed in the liminal sites of pilgrimage – the church, the shrine and – in modern times – the medical institutions of hospitals and hospices.  These are places where we experience extremes of emotion: intense worry and despair, but also hope and joy.  Whether religious, agnostic or atheist; we experience intense emotion in relation to the fragility of the body. We long to protect those we love from harm and illness, and suffer feelings of helplessness in the face of illness and death.  Historically the votive offering was a manifestation of these emotions.

Materials: wax metal leaf glass eyes

Additional Tags: cathedral candles tears eyes gold memory memorial saint