Marion and Saint Catherine of Siena


Victoria Rance Marion 2018 mixed media
'Marion' 2018 mixed media 180x200x200cm is a portrayal of mystic, overcome by a vision of Venus Maria (my own amalgamation of the various Mother goddesses through history). The title Marion is a diminution of Mary: little Mary, and also a reference to its Marionette form. Its scale is based on my own body. 

It was made as a result of considering Good and Bad Government for our forthcoming show, and this was recently, during the Me Too campaign. I wondered how women managed to find a voice during the 1300s. They were unable to sit on the Council of Nine, how did they compensate? As I mentioned in my previous post the Virtues in Lorenzetti's fresco are nearly all female. The city was dedicated many time to The Virgin Mary, and her cloak was felt to be symbolised by the city's walls, and even in the unusual shape of the piazza in front of the Palazzo Publico where governing decisions were made.

Some women managed to achieve powerful positions. These were either by marriage or inheritance. But as women in their own right some became influential through their gifts as 'messengers of God'. Hildegard of Bingen, 1098-1179 a famous mystic, scholar, scientist, composer and and monasteries was one example. Catherine of Sienna 1347-1380, was another. Like Hildegard she started to have visions from a very young age. She was the 23rd of 25 children. At five years old she had a vision of Christ and was transfixed on the spot. She continued to have visions and spoke about them. She was a lively child and at sixteen refused to marry her sister's widower, cutting off her long hair to make herself unattractive.
Victoria Rance Marion 2018 mixed media detail

She became a nun, experienced a mystical marriage and the stigmata. She was recognised by Pope Gregory XI who was residing in Avignon during a papal schism, and she became an important influence on him and lobbyist for him, writing hundreds of letters, eventually manoeuvring to have him returned to Rome. She then became a papal emissary, a rare position for a nun, and advocate for Pope Urban VI when he succeeded Gregory. She founded a women's monastery outside of Siena, and learnt to write which resulted in The Dialogues which were insights from and descriptions of her ecstasies.

Victoria Rance Marion 2018 installed in Good and Bad Government


It was said that she was struck down after a vision while contemplating Giotto's Navicella mosaic, she felt the weight of the ship on her head, fell to the ground and never recovered, dying three months later. She was canonised in 1461 and made patron saint of Rome in 1866, was made Italy's patron saint in 1939, and made patron saint of Europe in 1999.



Good and Bad Government continues at Thames-side Studios Gallery until 22 April.
Open Thursday  to Sunday 12-5pm. Artists: Frank Creber, Andrea McLean, Timothy Hyman, Michael Johnson and Victoria Rance.

images copyright Victoria Rance 2018