The Arts Committee of Ripon College Cuddesdon are delighted to announce the installation of a new artwork at the college:
Our Lady of Calais
by Joy ‘CBloxx’ Gilleard
Spray paint on board, 250cm x 250cm
Painted and originally exhibited in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, this picture depicts Mary and the Christ Child as refugees. The picture raises awareness around issues of forced migration and the plight of refugees across the world today. In 2015 the picture was part of a fundraising initiative on behalf of Save The Children.
Commenting on the piece in this 2016 interview, Joy reflects that one of the roles of the artist is to speak to the human condition, particularly on such a large-scale issue affecting human life as forced migration:
No work is purely for visual effect…there is a responsibility as a creative person to put a message out there … it is good to challenge perceptions and make people think.
Joy describes the process of engaging with the issues surrounding Mary and the Christ Child as refugees, and painting this picture, as a “spiritual experience in itself.”
In bringing this piece to the college, our hope is to contribute to raising awareness of the plight of refugees and those experiencing forced migration across the globe. This is an issue especially pertinent to Christians in light of the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt, described in Matthew 2:13-15 –
Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’
A formal launch of the painting in its new home at Ripon College Cuddesdon will follow in due course.
Joy is one of the artists behind the 2017 artwork Athena Rising, a 150ft tall mural on the side of the Platform building in Leeds, the UK’s largest ever piece of street art.
Refugee Mother and Child
A Poem by Chinua Achebe
No Madonna and Child could touch
that picture of a mother’s tenderness
for a son she soon would have to forget.
The air was heavy with odours
of diarrhoea of unwashed children
with washed-out ribs and dried-up
bottoms struggling in laboured
steps behind blown empty bellies. Most
mothers there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother’s
pride as she combed the rust-coloured
hair left on his skull and then –
singing in her eyes – began carefully
to part it… In another life this
would have been a little daily
act of no consequence before his
breakfast and school; now she
did it like putting flowers
on a tiny grave.