top of page

Saint Barbara

October's Whimsical wallpaper was inspired by a statue I sketched at the NGV.

In September I visited the National Gallery of Victoria. I chose not to go to the Blockbuster exhibition and wandered through a few rooms of the BRITISH & EUROPEAN COLLECTION 13TH–16TH CENTURY. I paused by a wooden statue and stopped to sketch.

The carved Oak figure (c.1420 France) had some fairy tale vibes with her book and tower. I leaned in to read the accompanying text in the dim gallery light. This was a 15-century interpretation of Saint Barbara - Patron Saint of Lightning and explosions! I knew I had to illustrate her in some way - a character with such a dramatic story and powerful symbols.


The legend goes something like this (sources disagree on some points):

Barbara was possibly a pretty young woman of Nicomedia (c306CE🍄) who was locked away in a luxurious tower by her father, ostensibly to protect her from suitors and the trendy new faith about town. Barbara is smarter than her father (Dioscorus) and works out how to access books and the teachings of Christ.

Dioscorus is a Hellenistic pagan and when he finds out his daughter has converted to Christianity, alas, events take a rather horrible turn. He rats her out to the authorities and Barbara is tortured and beheaded. Dioscorus though is then killed by lightning.

I'm interested in how her story follows some fairy tale themes and how she becomes the Patron Saint of Lightning and explosions and from there miners and artillerymen, armorers, military engineers, gunsmiths etc. Wooly logic.

🍄 so the Legend goes - fact however does not agree

Would you like access to monthly whimsical wallpapers and more? Have a quick look at my Patreon page for options.

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page