‘Hannah and Her Sisters’ was made at a time when my life as a mother was in transition. We had lost the family home and I was feeling not only the freshness of the wounds of my children no longer living with me, but also the opening of possibility.
In the old testament story, Hannah, the first and most loved of two wives of Elkanah, was unable to conceive a child. In her despair she went to the synagogue and prayed from the depths of her soul to God to give her a child. The priest, on seeing her, thought she was drunk and remonstrated her for being in that condition in a holy place. When she explained herself, the priest saw the intensity of her longing and told her to go home, her prayers would be answered. The condition was such that when he child was born he must be handed to the priests to raise.
In time, Samuel ( the name meaning ‘borrowed of God’) was born to Hannah. The priests called on her to honour her promise, and when the child was old enough to be weaned, Hannah passed her precious son on to the teachers. While Samuel received his education, Hannah visited him regularly and Samuel grew up to be a great prophet and leader.
The story, for me, is about mother love. It’s about the devotion, love, service and sacrifice that we perform, feel and give to our children and the bittersweet pain we experience when they eventually go on to be who they will be without us. Our gift is our knowing that nothing, not the material aspect of our world, nor our physical natures, can sever the unshakable bond between Mother and child.
In the image, the feminine symbol of the moon lights the heart of the lead figure, symbolising the inner dimension of the intuitive and spiritual nature of our maternal selves. She carries as her protection a spear not designed to harm, but made of leaves, a symbol of strength, growth and fertility. Her sisters at her flanks, in their common experience, offer their quiet support.
This work is available for purchase $5800 charcoal and pastel on paper, 1800 x 1200mm unframed.