England - Oxfordshire - Drayton - St. Peter's Church
It seems appropriate to begin The Kungoni Weblog from Oxford on the morning of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, which is also New Year's Day, with a Kungoni image of Our Lady which has found a home in the (Anglican) parish church of St. Peter in the village of Drayton (which lies to the South of Oxford). It is attractive work by Thomas Mpira. The attention that he has devoted to Our Lady's features and dress (the traditional chitenje) is delightful, as is the close regard with which Mother and Son gaze upon one another, but in itself this is not so very different from many other Kungoni depictions of Our Lady as an (inculturated) Malawi amayi.
As so often, what makes this work special is its story. The image is accompanied by the following text: 'This carving was commissioned by Drayton Parochial Church Council with money bequeathed to St. Peter's by Susan Cole-King. It was carved by Thomas Mpira at the KuNgoni Art Craft Centre in Mua, Malawi (one of the most important producers of Christian art on the continent of Africa). At the request of the Bishop of Southern Malawi, Susan spent time there helping those with HIV / Aids. The carving was dedicated in her memory by her brother The Reverend Martin Wilson on Sunday 2nd November 2003.'
There is an account of Canon Dr. Susan Cole-King's remarkable life here. She was medical doctor, missionary and one of the first women to be ordained an (Anglican) priest. She lived and worked in Malawi with her husband from 1964 to 1973, and again in 2000.
Artist: Thomas Mpira
Title: [Mother & Child]
Themes: Christ - Child, Mother & Child, Our Lady, Women
Source: Kungoni Archive, Vidi (April 2015)