beate eismann

Design of a Palm and Book Subject for the Re-shaping of the Altar of Catherine in the Magdeburg Cathedral, 2009

Material planned: German silver and titanium, partly gold-plated or ruthenized, steel frame

Text: Dr. Ines Janet Engelmann
Art historian of Taucha near Leipzig, supervisor of the project which was initiated by the Magdeburg Cathedral and supported by the Art Foundation Saxony Anhalt.

"In her design, Beate Eismann’s starting point was two keywords: one was the Gothic style in which the stone skeleton of the altar was built. Gothic – regarded here as something new which however does not break radically with the past, but being a transition of solid fabric into transparent and translucent structures, as an impression of movement and weightlessness.

On the other hand, she was inspired by the legend of Saint Catherine. Nothing in the stone fragments of the altar however indicates that she is the patroness of it. But still the artist was able to derive her attributes from it. Beate Eismann reconstructed the altar in her PC, reduced its structure to the simplest linear image which reminds us of wheels, swords, crowns, books and palm branches – all of which are Catherine’s symbols.
For her further work, she chose palm branch and book as they go beyond the saint woman herself: the palm branch, also a symbol of passion and resurrection of Christ, of immortality, of heavenly paradise, she formed of fragile wire. Some parts are accentuated in golden colour; for example the upper circle in which a wheel – a direct attribute of Catherine’s – can be seen. This subject of the left side, just as the one on the right side, is not to be fixed inflexibly, but it is supposed to be moving gently in the breeze, thus symbolizing general growth and thriving.

The shape of the right design is changing between book – with Catherine a symbol of erudition and wisdom – and scroll or textile ribbon, and it refers to objects which are suitable for written records of experiences, wisdom and wishes.

The jury awarded this well thought-out and sensitive design the third prize."