Ophelia Gordon Bell at St Oswald’s Church, Grasmere

Madonna and Child by Ophelia Gordon Bell

Although not large, this is a powerful sculpture, that is outside the frame of expectations for Madonna and Child.  The spiraling composition creates tension in the Madonna and the tilt of her head is defiant, gaze steady as she supports her son in crucifixion pose, suggesting a prescience of his destiny.

Michelangelo MADNNA OF BRUGES

Madonna of Bruges, Michelangelo

This compares sharply with, for instance, Michelangelo’s Madonna, who is passive, head lowered, eyes averted in the face of what is to happen to her son.  The plump, cherubic child of Bruges is a far cry from the wiry child of Grasmere.  Bruges child is about to slide to the floor, slipping from his mother’s hand, to take his first independent steps away from her.  In contrast, the Grasmere child stands strong, supported on his mother’s knee, secure in her grasp. This is one mother who is going to be there for her child, whatever the future brings. I think Gordon Bell must have designed this no-nonsense, no-frills Madonna specifically for St Oswald’s in Grasmere because it’s style is very appropriate for the somewhat austere little church.

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