Heroic Women in the Scriptures

The series of paintings In Celebration of Heroic Women in the Scriptures developed out of my 1980 studies in Feminist Theology. It began out of an impulse to create positive woman imagery out of a patriarchal text. The Bible, like most history books, emphasizes the heroic deeds of men. Have you ever noticed how seldom women are actually named in the scriptures? We are usually told she was the wife of…..the mother of….the daughter, the sister….Sometimes she is merely categorized by her nationality, the Canaanite, the Samaritan, the Syro-phoenician, the Shunamitess. Worse still are some of the titles meted out to the unnamed women, for example ‘woman with an issue of blood’; ‘woman caught in very act of adultery’ or ‘woman who for 18 years was bent over double’! Thus the first task was to reclaim their memory by honouring each woman by name.

The selection of “Heroic Women” was a personal one. My concern was and is primarily to present a visual celebration of women’s stories that have touched me. Thus in honour of the `celebration’, all the heroines are dressed in gold and the paintings brightly ornamented with decorative patterning – I wanted the pictures to sparkle like jewels. The emotional emphasis in the paintings is often conveyed in a very natural women’s response. For example, Sarah, stands laughing behind a tree while she eavesdrops Abraham two visitors discussing her future pregnancy, or Rachel shows a mischievous humour as she sits demurely on the camel bag in which she has hid her `household gods’, pretending to be `womanly indisposed’, or again “Claudia”, Pontius Pilate’s wife waking up from a nightmare with crosses floating in the ceiling and fishes swimming under her bed.


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