A COLD COMING

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The most striking feature of the Fraserburgh memorial is the difference in scales between the female figure of 'Justice' and the male warrior 'Valour' which is not entirely explained by Carrick's description of Valour as a 'Youth'.  The helmet on the head of Carrick's 'Valour', his shield and sword, are medieval and there was an established iconographic tradition in medieval sculpture, itself drawn from early Christian manuscript illustrations, of representing important figures in larger scale.  

Once again the Fraserburgh memorial is reminiscent of a medieval depiction of the story of the Magi.  Above - is the Romanesque ivory carving of The Adoration of the Magi.  The virgin dominates the space as the central focus of the carving as she represents a figure of awe and wonder to the smaller figures of the three king's. Whether this apparent connection with depictions of the Magi at Fraserbugh and Oban is a coincidence is only conjecture.  Carrick, like many of his generation, was quietly religious and in later years became a church elder.  He would certainly have been well acquainted with the story.  Initially his inspiration may have came from the many depictions of the magi carved in celtic and pictish crosses as a powerful symbol of salvation.  But also In 1622 Lancelot Andrewes, the most famous preacher of the Elizabethan Age, wrote an influential sermon on the nativity which laid stress on the actual journey of the Magi and its hardships in winter, 'A cold coming they had of it at this time of year, just the worst time of the year to take a journey'.  In 1930 in his poem 'The Journey of the Magi' T.S. Eliot drew heavily on Andrewes' sermon, but took it a step further in capturing a sense of alienation after the Magi return home to those who had not shared the journey and could not understand what they had suffered or experienced their epiphany,

 

'We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,

But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,

With an alien people clutching their gods.'

 

As in Eliot's The Wasteland the poem  is a metaphor for the suffering of veterans who had fought through the First World War and the alienation so many of them felt on their return.  Carrick's sculptures pre-date Eliot's poem but perhaps the metaphor was already in wider use before Eliot published.  Ministers and vicars would have been well acquainted with Andrewes' famous sermon and might well have used it as a metaphor for the suffering of veterans in their own Christmas sermons of the post war years, several years before Eliot's poem.

What does seem certain is that Carrick had a great love for sculpture and carving and looked to his predecessors for inspiration.  He was highly conscious of working within a great traditon going back to Michaelangelo, Gislebertus and beyond (see Oban3, Killin1 and Newburgh2).

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