About HolySwan

We live in such fast and hectic times, that our need for tranquillity, harmony and balance is growing. More and more people long for a quite place, a way to give form to their own spirituality and integrate it into their daily lives.
Out of this longing I started to create home altars. When I lost some loved ones in a very short time, I felt this urge for a special place to light a candle and burn some incense, to find strength and comfort. A place where you can reflect on things and find some peace of mind. Or just a place to enjoy something beautiful.

Each house shrine, temple or shadowbox by HolySwan wants to be such a place for you. They invite you to express your feelings, your desires, your memories or your gratitude and to make contact with something transcending yourself. All shrines are designed and handmade by me, Swantje Haage. So every altar is unique.
The frames or boxes are mostly custom made by my partner, Dirk Blase, who is a carpenter. Sometimes he even surprises me with exciting shapes such as stars or circles. They inspire me even more to make my spiritual art pieces.

Universal & spiritual

When I am working on an altarpiece, I am perfectly happy, get butterflies in my stomach and losing myself completely. Time stands still and I forget the world around me. I hope my shrines will radiate and convey this happiness and blissful inspiration.
Not really religious in the traditional sense of the word, I belief strongly in finding your own faith. That’s why I use all kinds of rituals and elements of all big world religions- and cultures, mixed together. Each spirit house has its own atmosphere, tells its own story. Sometimes with a wink or a critical note. Referring to the often destructive urge to convert and the arrogance with which some religions claim to be the true faith. For me, true spirituality is uniting, not
dividing. This theme you will find in all my shrines, which makes them universal and suitable for all.

How I craft the shrines

For each shrine the holy image is my starting point. I try to find out more about that certain Buddha, Maria or Jesus. Which story lies beneath it? This gives me clues to form a concept. What do I want to say with this altarpiece? What does it have to convey? What colours, symbolism and ornaments will I use? I translate that into an atmospheric collage, I collect materials, fabrics, prints, ribbons, beads and if necessary pictures and suitable texts. Often I use the computer to transform fabrics and prints into new images and backgrounds with which I cover the frames and boxes. Together with the detailing, the proportions, the symmetry and the expressive use of colour, you probably recognise my background as a graphic designer.

Custom made shrines

Would you like an altar with your own figurine, photograph or other personal symbol or memory? Or would you like to honour and remember a loved one that has passed away? Or just want a special memento or gift for a wedding, a birth, a communion or other festive occasion? You can commission me to design an altarpiece for your specific needs. Call or mail me so we can discuss your wishes.

What’s in a name?

The name HolySwan is a wink at my pet name Swan, but also refers to the symbolism of the (holy) swan, which in many cultures is associated with grace, purity, transformation, power, love and fidelity. The swan moves equally elegant in both the elements, water and air, which stand for feeling and thinking. The white colour symbolises purity. In Hinduism the music the swans make with their wings is a metaphor for in- and exhaling the holy breath of life. For the Indians the swan stands for transformation and developing your intuition.