Goddesses Revisited: Ann-Rosemary Conway

By Lee, Jerri | Herizons, April 3, 1993 | Go to article overview

Goddesses Revisited: Ann-Rosemary Conway


Lee, Jerri, Herizons


Goddesses Revisited: Ann-Rosemary Conway.

Was it the yoga class, the ashram, the dream of the goddesses, or all of these that turned the life of Victoria artist Ann-rosemary Conway around?

"I'm called a symbolist painter and printmaker. But, to me, the work of art that I work on is my life, the images I draw and paint are really a journal of process."

As the scent of burning sweetgrass and rosemary wafts into her livingroom, Conway reflects on this process as the tries to put into words what she has put into her art - the power of the sacred feminine. That power emanates from the walls of her home - from Athena with her cloak of snakes, from the reclining figure of the Sleeping Goddess of Malta and from the Egyptian goddess Isis. "I decided to paint her headdress blue - Mary's color. While Mary was a vehicle for a male god, Isis represents the regenerative powers of life on earth, both female and male."

Conway says her focus on goddess spirituality grew out of the physical and psychological stress she experienced as a single parent of four children. She took Hatha Yoga at the Y, followed by a workshop on Raja Yoga - the yoga of the mind - at an ashram in the Kootenays. She studied dream symbolism, and then read an important book, Merlin Stone's When God Was a Woman.

"When I saw Merlin Stone's book, it jumped in front of me. I was almost afraid to read it. Then, I had a dream. I dreamed that out of all the museums and tombs and buried cultures came a procession of goddesses trailing long, sacred cloths entwined with wheat, poppies, pomegranates and snakes. They entered their great temples once more, taking up their places in the minds of women everywhere, returning self-respect to women."

Her quest for the goddess took her halfway around the world, changed her life, energized her art and eventually influenced thousands of B.C. women who attended her goddess workshops. In addition, she has held full moon ceremonies in her home for the past 14 years.

Her paintings of goddesses are reverent, comforting and powerful as in her portrayal of the Asian Kuan Shih Yin - the all compassionate. Etching of the Black Madonna and megalithic goddesses have come from her studio, frequently on black paper, sometimes illuminated in gold ink, or orange chalk to give the impression of light coming from darkness.

Conway describes her inspiration: "Long ago, we lived in harmony with the universe. The ancient ones evoked in us a reverence for Mother Nature. By creating images of the feminine as sacred, we are reminded to honor the goddess within us, all. Today we live in a culture permeated by religions that belittle all that is feminine, teaching us to belittle women and the earth. …

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