It came to her in a dream, and now it’s her main pursuit.
Greenbank artist Lynn Waddington has created 50 reproductions of figurative sculptures from pre-historic times; mainly the naked female form.
“Many years ago, I dreamed that a primitive stone tool was hurtling toward me, crunching through time. I stepped eagerly into its path,” she explained. “Ever since, I’ve felt driven to study the portable art of stone age people, finding that it speaks to me and for me.”
The originals date from 2,500 BCE (Before the Common Era) to more than 30,000 BCE.
Waddington said that even from a very young age she has always been interested in ancient culture.
As she began the project, she found herself frequently in disagreement with certain archeologists and their assessment of the discovered artifacts of this 25,000 year period.
Waddington noted that only 4 percent of the carved figures discovered are the male form.
She believes that because many of the discoveries were made by men, there has been some denial through the years regarding the under-acknowledged fact that most of the figures from the period are female.
Waddington said unearthing the notion that the universal deity was female and that these cultures were most-likely matriarchal societies may be too much for mainstream thinkers.
“There are those who are threatened by the notion of a ‘Goddess’ rather than a ‘God,’” she said.
Waddington said it’s not terribly surprising to her that these early artists saw the female being as entirely awesome considering females were not only the givers of life, but they were the food gatherers, food preservationists, inventors and general nurturers of the world.
“Females are the plant people; in charge of agriculture and so important to history. I think we may be coming out of the backlash now and seeing what is really there,” she said.
After collecting what reproductions she could, Waddington realized she would have to create the rest herself.
Scouring the used book market and online sources, many hours of research led Waddington to pictures of the pieces she’s interested in replicating.
She has also walked through the female-shaped temples of Malta and let herself feel the power of history. A photo of one such temple is also part of the display.
After gathering the images, she used a variety of clay, glazes, stains and stone to create them, noting that the process is mainly intuitive and that she works very hard to make them look authentic.
“There is a tug on my heart when I see something that has to be done next,” Waddington said.
“I don’t think about it too much. I feel led, and I let the feeling come through me and try to stay out of the way of it while I’m creating it.”
It is a journey of the heart for the artist but also a struggle against an ailing body.
Waddington was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis two years ago and has defied the odds of the terminal disease due in part, she said, to the project that gives her strength and the wonders of acupuncture.
“I have something to live for; this is loads of fun,” Waddington said.
Sculptures are represented from the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods from areas all over the world.
But it’s interesting that whether a piece is from 20,000 BCE Siberia or 5,000 BCE in the Americas, Waddington’s favorite image of a star at the womb area of many of the figures fascinates her.
“That image gets carved into the art over and over and over again no matter where in the world it’s found,” she said.
This, Waddington said, unifies the pieces and reveals a connection in the tribes of the world, though the artist said she is still full of questions and hesitant to come to full conclusions.
After a year of creating her first 50 pieces, Waddington said she is, as yet, not finished. She will continue to wrestle with stone and clay and delve into the mysteries of ancient art.
Waddington would like to thank her friends, the Huffmans, who loaned her a kiln, making it all possible.
“Fifty Naked Stone Age Women” runs through the month of July in the foyer of the Freeland Library. Waddington will talk about messages from the past at an artist’s reception at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 13 in the Freeland Library community room.
For more info, call 222-3398 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.