Pacifism and the goddesses 1944-53

In the mid-1940s, Rita Angus was prosecuted by the Industrial Manpower Committee for refusing to work in a factory to support the war effort. Her position was clear – she completely rejected war as an insult to the sanctity of life. ‘I have taken stronger monastic, pacifist vows,’ she declared. ‘As an artist, it is my work to create life and not to destroy.’

Angus expressed her pacifist beliefs in her three goddess paintings: A Goddess of Mercy, Rutu, and Sun Goddess. She regarded these goddesses as her symbolic children – messengers of peace to a future generation.

Angus envisaged a time when the goddess paintings would be shown together, at the heart of an exhibition of her life’s work.

All artworks are reproduced courtesy of the Estate of Rita Angus.