Pieta 2017 Biro drawing on plastic clothes bag

Pieta is a work in progress featuring Jane's muse, Lily. It is intended as a sculpture galvanised by the great artworks of the marble Pieta by Michelangelo and the bronze Mother and her Dead Son by Käthe Kollwitz. Both sculptures portraying a mother cradling her dead son capture the intensity of grief following the loss of a child, with pacifist Kollwitz losing her son Peter during WWI, which sparked a depression within her that never ceased. Her sensitive drawings notably for the series ‘Krieg’ are an outpouring of grief and symbolic of the futility of war. The pain of losing an infant knows no bounds, and is a cataclysmic circumstance that has always and will continue to haunt species that have the ability to mourn, for as with humans, wolves, chimpanzees, elephants, dolphins and many other species also have the capacity to feel this emotion. 

Jane's Pieta is about the anguish endured by the loss of an infant, with Lily representing species that grieve. Like Jane, Lily never experienced the gift of motherhood. Knowing the gentleness she possessed, Jane believed Lily would have been a tender mother, and throughout her life, it continued to be a source of torment to Jane that she did not give her this opportunity, even though her reasons were at heart, for her to live a full and healthy life.

Whilst the sculpture Pieta as yet remains unmade, other than a mock-up formed from recycled plastic and aluminium foil, her drawing on a plastic clothes bag is part of the drapery, inspired by Mary Magdalen’s clothing in Michelangelo’s Pieta, which was to contain Lily’s fur and shroud the sculpture.

Jane said:

Using accessible materials like Biro and clay to make my art, the plan for my Pieta sculpture is to continue the theme of the mock-up and use recycled materials to hand, a practice I have often employed as well as using found objects as drawing surfaces. For example, a clear plastic bag covering one of my dresses collected from the dry cleaners became the surface for the Pieta drawing of Lily. Using several images of her from different stages of her life as inspiration, I imagined Lily in a setting of war, her pup slain and lying lifeless on the ground before her.

The drawing embodies, through layers of five portraits of Lily, the moments of shock and despair suffered by those left behind following the death of a loved one, that lead to the extreme pain of loss and bereavement. These layers include a portrait of Lily’s face looking out of the drawing wide-eyed as if warning onlookers not to approach her pup as she guards it with her life, culminating in a portrait of her head bowed over her infant in sorrow.

Pieta sketch mockup