Betty Gurrier made many different angel figures, many of which she gave to friends in need of comfort. Although their elements are similar, each of her angels is unique, with its own distinct personality.
"Part of the shock in Elizabeth Gurrier’s work comes from her medium. She creates all of her pieces from fine, unbleached muslin, and uses quilting (often by machine stitching) and trapunto to create texture, light and shade. Only the faces have colour, embroidered or dusted on in the softest of blending shades. Hair is created from natural textures, lamb’s wool or angora, usually in its untinted, natural, whitish state.
"The effect of this pure white medium is to make our everyday world, where pillows and handbags and quilts are useful objects, into a world of pure form. Gurrier sees the world as white space. What is alive and vital, Gurrier’s pieces tell us, is the world of the faces, the Anima, peering through in ancient judgment from behind the Form. The faces are disturbing for several reasons. First, allowing for subtle differences of expression or variation for sex, it is always the same face. One spirit stares at us over and over again. The face has ancient knowledge, an old Celt face our forefathers would have recognized in the fens of Britain, the mists of Norway, or the mountains of Germany. Usually the face, surrounded by fuzzy, grizzled hair, is female, old in its wrinkles and pouches, with a prominent beak nose, sensual chiseled mouth, and large, alive eyes with down-drooping corners. Its gaze is not malevolent—there is no passion of any kind in the faces—but it stares and judges.
"Gurrier’s work reveals the same Anima known by the medieval cathedral workmen who broke the perfection of gothic pillars with images of little faces from the old religion, peering through. Her affinity with the ancient carvers is acknowledged in the form as well as the spirit of her pieces."
—Jo Anne Claus, Saint John Telegraph Journal, Canada
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