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Manara

3 Smith Street

When Barbara Sowter and her husband Norman named their house they did not know that "man" and "ara" had meanings and that those meanings, food from heaven, the sun god, and being blessed, summed up the sense of sanctuary which Barbara experienced when she first came to the village.

It was this feeling of sanctuary - and the fact that she fell in love with clay while making the design model for her house - which led Barbara to take up ceramics and become - to her own surprise - a sculptor of icons of meditation. She insists that the figures which she lovingly crafts in various kinds of clay are not Buddhas, nor even monks, but symbolic reminders of the restorative power of meditation available to all.

Originally the figures were life-size and weighed up to 80kgs and there remain one or two examples of these huge statues in the garden at the back of the house. They have a compelling presence by virtue of their inner gaze and one approaches them with awe. But because of the risks attached to the making of such big sculptures - e.g. the few that exploded in the kiln - Barbara now makes smaller sculptures. They are as beautiful and compelling, and they have the added advantage of being easily accommodated in rooms, or garden shrines.

There are copies of Barbara's sculptures available on canvas.


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