Way - Truth - Life

If sculptor Caroline Mackenzie met Picasso today she would tell him women do more than just sit in chairs looking coy.

To underline her point Caroline has produced a thought-provoking, somewhat controversial, set of five prototype statues depicting a woman's metamorphosis from victim to a joyous free spirit, undergoing a crucifixion along the way. 

Displaying the Way - Truth - Life exhibition in Woolverstone church adds to the defiance, and at the same time to the power of the message. As a Catholic, Caroline knows how her work will raise eyebrows, or even draw outright outrage from senior clergy - not least because Christa challenges religious assumptions.

"Religious imagination has expressed the the redemptive suffering of Christ as applicable exclusively to the masculine body and the male experience of life," said Caroline.

"A key teaching of Christ is that if you wish to follow his 'Way' then each person must take up his or her own cross. 

"One of the specifics of my cross is being an intelligent, creative woman in a society that pays lip service to equality, but as the recent statistics show (the pay gap report) is far from equal." 

Suffolk sculptor Caroline drew inspiration for her work from a burning self of injustice, living and learning about life in India and a determination to offer an alternative to the work of people such as Picasso and Anthony Gormley.

The idea of Christa, first created in 1972 by Edwina Sandys and catapulted to fame in 1984 when it was celebrated by the Bishop of New York, which Caroline remembers as  pivotal moment in her thought process.

She wanted to challenge the traditional view of women in art as simply muses bending to the will of man, and wanted to highlight women's intelligence, creativity and challenge the perception of women as objects, rather than in the whole - displaying all the human emotions, including suffering and joy

"Why is the Angel of the North a man?" asks Caroline as she starts her talk at Woolverstone's St Michael's Church and points out how few classic works of art ever present women other than sitting demurely .
 This is 'Me Too' in aluminium wire and plaster of Paris, refusing to allow women being seen as victims, or mere objects.

The display starts with the cowered 'Victim', moves on to 'Defiant/Anger' with thunderbolts exploding from the head, before the impressive Christa being crucified, and representing redemption, the obvious next step is the resurrection and finally the dancing model. The latter two still have the scars of nails in the hand as a reminder of the past, but Christa is very much moving on and is embracing life.

The beauty of the display though is it can be taken in any order, work it backwards for example and it could have another meaning. The exhibition, the individual statues, are what you see, and take, from them.

Caroline studied art at St Martin's College, but it was India that caught her eye and she worked and studied with Jyoti Sahi, lived in a Hindu Temple town, then explored philosophy and Sanskrit.

Her latest work has been critically acclaimed by art historian, expert and television presenter Sister Wendy Beckett, and Caroline is hoping to raise the £30,000 to have the prototypes cast in bronze, using a small Brandeston company to do the work.

The statues are on display at St Michael's church in Woolverstone until May. 

For more details go to www.carolinemackenzie.co.uk

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