Steve Dales

Artist: Steve Dales (UK)

Title: Untitled altarpiece

Medium/technique(s): Mahogany, walnut, brass, egg tempera on Bristol board, gold paint, artificial gold leaf, gold leaf, Zerkall and Somerset papers

Edition size: 1

Artist Statement: This book takes inspiration from Boccaccio’s De mulieribus claris. Although quickly overtaken by other ideas, an initial stimulus was the set of engravings in the Matthias Apiarius edition of 1537. An embossed image of Eve, derived from an engraving in the Apiarius version, decorates the cover of this book.

Twelve women were asked to provide the name of an inspirational woman, an image and some information on the reason for their choice. No limitation was placed on choices and so, as with Boccaccio, choosers could select contemporary, historical or imaginary figures either famous or not. Their extremely interesting and varied responses are reproduced verbatim in the small white book, which sits inside the altarpiece and provided the inspiration for the images of the altarpiece.

Untitled altarpiece is based on the St. Humilitas polyptych, which is the work of trecento painter Pietro Lorenzetti (roughly contemporary with Boccacccio). With two exceptions, the female characters depicted are all based on figures taken from the works of Pietro and his brother Ambrogio. Reading from left to right the inspirational women are: (top register) Sophie Scholl, Alice Axford, Gail Young, Mma Diapo; (central register) Ellen Wilkinson, Maya Angelou, Laura Allen, Myrtle Yeoman; (bottom register) Penelope Pitstop, Camila Batmangelidjh, Florence Easton, Eva Watson. The central figure of Humility is now transformed into Minerva by virtue of an owl (in place of a donor) with a hint of Rosie the riveter by virtue of a spotted headscarf. She holds a copy of the book she now protects.

The work displays many imperfections, which seem to lend it a certain character and appear not to distract from the overall effect. Thanks to Ray Gill and Richard Chippington for their help and support.

One response

19 09 2013
Locating Boccaccio - Medieval Histories

[…] Steve Dales […]

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