oil on panel, 76 x 122 cm (30" x 48") © Fergus A Ryan, 2013
The contrast between the mediaeval episcopal carving and the twenty-first century figure suggests several possible narratives. Which is ‘sacred’ and which ‘profane’? Who is delivering the benediction? The feather suggests another agent. The carving is in a ruined twelfth-century Cistercian abbey in Ireland, probably of a French-speaking Anglo-Norman prelate who was part of the Roman reforms that brought the Celtic church under the jurisdiction of the papacy. The girl in this painting is a family friend, with some Cherokee ancestry.