70″ x 43″, Ravenna smalti, gold tessera, gems, gold leaf on wood panel. Completed in April 2004.
This mosaic shows the image of young Esther at just that fateful moment when her name is called… the winner, the future Queen. She appears frightened but determined in her elegant white dress, the symbol of purity of heart and soul. Curtseying to the king she raises the handkerchief with her name thus providing identity and submission to the King’s will. The royal appointment was in the form of a competition amongst many young virgins, all beautiful and young. These girls were selected amongst hundreds of others to be worthy of the King’s attention. Only one would become Queen of Persia. Her handkerchief reads Esther in Farsi. Esther, who reluctantly participated in this competition under the firm pressure of her uncle Mordechai, in one pivotal moment sees her future completely changed.
A huge challenge awaits her and she’s determined to succeed. The symbol most associated with Persia (Iran) is that of the Lion. It has astrological reference to the constellation of Leo and its ascendancy when the sun is in Leo. It also refers to ancient symbols of royal lineages and divinity, power and braveness. Lion imagery is also found on royal thrones, where it was traditionally supposed to offer protection to the occupant. The lion was viewed as both a protector and as a sign of sovereignty. Coincidentally, it was also a symbol of royalty and courage in the tribe of Judah, in Israelite lore, (“Lion of Judah”) – the lion being the ruler over the animals, as the king is the ruler over men. This then became the unifying symbol for the newlyweds in this mosaic. The Book of Esther is about the hidden and the revealed, therefore, I used a gold (divine colour) Persian lion mask in the background and gold lion decorations on Queen Esther’s dress. The two cultures are connected even though the King has no knowledge of Esther’s background.