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Saint Dunstan Guardian Bird of Relics

The penultimate guardian bird of relics made for  the Traces Revealed exhibition at Glastonbury Abbey.

Born in Baltonsborough near Glastonbury, Saint Dunstan was guided by the Irish monks in the 10th Century A.D at Glastonbury Abbey. Later he became abbot of the Abbey. When he was canonised after his death, his patronage included metalsmiths, goldsmiths, silversmiths, musicians and locksmiths. He was very talented in the arts including illumination and writing. It’s possible he might have built the glass kiln that was discovered in archaeological digs at the abbey.

But my favourite story has to be about his struggle with evil. After being accused of witchcraft and thrown into a cesspit he travelled to Winchester where he contracted leprosy. After he recovered he returned to Glastonbury abbey and built himself a small cell. It was here that the devil tried to tempt him so with his blacksmith tongs he took off the devils nose and kept it in a cage!

I have a strange little story too. I had made the devils nose and it was sitting behind me in a cage whilst I was making the Saint Dunstan guardian bird …

I could hear a rustling noise and a sort of scratching sound. I thought it was probably a mouse until I had a real shock when I turned around. The devils nose was shaking and it appeared to be moving, like it was crawling slowly out of the cage! I noticed the door of the cage was open so I was very brave at this point and I quickly grabbed the cage and shut the little door. Later when I had calmed down I opened the little door, grabbed the nose, shouted at it and then smeared it with silicone and stuck it to the inside of the cage in the hope it would stay still! If you look at the last post you can see the finished bird with the nose in the cage. In the exhibition the door is open so you can see the nose …but I hope the staff remember to close the little door at night!

Saint Dunstan Guardian bird of relics (cement structure, stained glass, hand gilded copper leaf glass, van gogh glass, shell rounds, hand painted eyes)

Here we go … hope you are ready for this … a quick glimpse of non such more repulsive as the devils nose!!

Yuck! Want a closer look?

the devils nose (copper gilded and distressed fimo clay, wire nose hairs, glass boils!)

You can see this one plus the guardian birds of relics of 2 other saints, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere birds and a living rock legend guardian bird, plus other pieces of work at Glastonbury Abbey’s exhibition Traces Revealed which continues until January 28th 2018.


UPDATE: Now available to buy on my shop: rattraymosaics.co.uk/shop/birds/double-headed-eagles/

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