Like many artists, I enjoy discussing our work with my colleagues, and one such conversation with a friend turned to the different ways in which I might develop the theme of the Goddess in my work. She asked whether I had considered making a personal Goddess – and I thought it was a great idea. I’ve bonded strongly with the resulting Goddess and she turned out to be a very personal family icon. She is presently standing on the sill at our garden door, watching over the household! You can scroll through several views of her, and read about the family history I’ve tried to include in the detailing. I have since made two small bronze Goddesses to keep her company. One is a voluptuous lady in glowing bronze, the other bears a tray above her elongated head; she lives on my dining table and provides us with chocolates from her tray!
I made this Goddess as a tribute to my family, especially to my mother, Sonia, and her parents, although I have put a lot of myself and my family into her too. She is cast in bronze, polished to a bright golden colour, and then patinated in dusty turquoise over a dark aubergine; with the finishing polish I have selectively removed the turquoise coating to reveal both dark areas and golden bronze highlights beneath. The goddess’ face resembles both me and my niece Miriam. Her hair is swept up with combs – my mother wore hers like that and I used to do it for her as a girl; I often wear mine that way.
I have put many references to mother love, and to our family history, into this piece. It features some very old decorative keys from the cottage in Normandy where my husband, my son and I spent many happy times with friends; a mother is key to the family, and the family, in turn, hold the keys to her heart. This Goddess is adorned with jewellery – earrings, chains, tie studs; some of them are things my dad, Lionel, used to sell, and some items were given to me by my husband David, and by my friends June and Joan. I pressed lots of buttons and beads into the clay – one of my favourite activities as a child was sorting out my mother’s needlework drawer in our kitchen at home, and I still have her tin of buttons – wartime thrift decreed that buttons should always be removed from worn-out clothes in case they could be used again. There is a paisley-shaped buckle on the goddess’ left side, an item which fascinated me as a child. It was turquoise, and appears in various of my paintings.
Beads feature heavily in my paintings as you can see on my website, especially on the page entitled “Goddesses and Symbols”. I collect them, as did my Mum, and whenever I have visited my son Oli in Boston I’ve spent many happy moments browsing in the wonderful bead shop there, so the beads in my work make reference not only to my Mother, and to my childhood, but also to myself as a mother, and to my son, abroad. The golden bead which forms the goddess’ navel is one of the beads I bought in Boston; on the base at her left side is another, with two columns of circles divided by upright lines, which also appears in the painting ‘Goddess with Beads’, on the ‘Symbols and Goddesses‘ page. I pressed a threepenny piece into the clay at the side of the goddess’ stomach. My Mother had a bracelet of silver threepences and I have given away many of them to brides, to sew into their dresses as “something old” . I like to think they will bring good luck.
My grandfather, Harry, was a master-tailor and designer. His thimble, and a piece of his French chalk, were pressed into the clay at the base of the sculpture. You can also see a design of a little house, taken from a 17th century wedding ring displayed in a fine collection at the Jewish Museum in Paris. It’s symbolic of the home and hearth where a domestic goddess might rule!
Other motifs sported by my Goddess include a Kabbalistic design which refers to the spirt of Gemini – my birth sign – and, written in an early Semetic language, the name of the Lithuianian village, Zeludok, from which my grandfather came.
The Goddess is a tribute to women at every stage of life. Her expression, like that of the goddess in my painting “Goddess with beads” is inscrutable – not sad, nor happy, not critical or stern, just…..there. My Mother’s Hebrew name, Sarah, and my Hebrew name, Shoshana, are written on the base of the sculpture, and my signature emblem, the Farsi word “poll”, meaning “bridge” is also there. As my home page explains, I chose this motif for my signature because I want my work to suggest a bridge across time as well as cultures. The name “Polly” is also written on the base in one of the early semitic languages – a reference to the unknown history of my family and their wanderings. You will also see a circular design of dots surrounding a single dot. This represents the circles a bride weaves round her bridegroom under the canopy, or ‘chupah’, at Jewish weddings.
I like to think that this Goddess will represent me, and some of my dear family members, on this planet, long after I have left it! She holds a pen nib in her hand – the kind of nib I used for drawing as a teenager. My son Oli Rockberger, a musician, whose work gives pleasure to so many people, is represented by one musical note at the side. You can enjoy his music at www.olirockberger.com and by visiting his facebook page.