Touching Rainbows: St Columba's

Sunday 03 June - Friday 06 July 2001

Paintings in this exhibition

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From Which You Were Hewn

Oil on canvas, mounted on slate

This canvas began life in the early 1980s when I was painting in Milton Keynes.  It moved, unpainted, to North Oxford and then to Cowley.  Something of its journey spoke to me of the journey to life itself.  In this calm, which reminds me of my loved Lake District, I see Creator God.  The title comes from Isaiah 51, a plea for the created to remember their creator.  From that creator rises life, hinting to what may be seen in the shape of the rocks in this work.  Mounting on slate, found by Stef, finished the journey of this canvas while emphasising the rock supporting all creations and journeys.

Bourdeilles Tryptych

This set of canvasses started life in Bourdeilles, the Dordogne in 1996.  After Brian Wren, it was Pete Gray who made me paint again and he who made this mounting.  August 6, 1996 saw us in Perigeux, buying canvas and stretchers, paint and brushes, turpentine and a wonderful white oval plate for a palette.  All was new.  The first images on these canvasses were of summer sunflowers and French cottages, painted while I listened to James and his guitar merging in music.  In the summer of 1999, flowers and cottages gave way to three couples in differing types of relationships.  In 2000, the canvasses whispered a deeper message and reminded me of the classic medieval triptych declaration of the Trinity.  This is my version. Three parts, three dimensions.  Undefined.

Communion Eucharist Last Supper

Oil on strips of canvas, mounted on reclaimed window frame

This work started from an idea of strips of canvas.  The frame came from East Hanney.  On the strips, I painted strips.  Then rising to my conscious mind came the brokenness of the church, which renders me so angry and hurt.  What should be a fellowship meal like any large family, with some members who get on and some who do not, has become that which divides more powerfully than any external agent.  This work is a metaphor for that division with yet the golden reminder that though we divide our selves, Holy Spirit entwines and connects us even so.  The title indicates our inability even to call the single dividing liturgy by a single name.

Earth Mother

This canvas travelled quite a lot with me before the canvas’ own journey spoke to me and this work became a thought of the genesis of life.  In this, Creator is female and unlike the stereotype of Earth Mother being the globe itself, tempting or nurturing creatures from their other-worldly creator, or the 1960s Earth Mother of flowing skirts and sandals, this Earth Mother cradles the busily spinning created.  This earth mother could be seen as the Creator.

Holy Saturday

This was the beginning of so much. The canvas started as fabric stretched across a frame with a soldier facing horrors – a Remembrance Sunday image, still seen if you look at the back. Not needed for worship any longer, it became a mount for something else. Compelled by a dear friend in 1991, I painted what I felt angry about. The hand, out-stretched and touching a rainbow of fabric could not be painted closed in to the body, no matter how much I tried. The sheer process of trying to close it in while it tried to reach the light was hard work indeed. So I gave up and it does what it wanted – touches the rainbow.

The name indicates the time between the death and resurrection of Jesus. Death is known and life is not quite there yet, but there is a hint somewhere. This is my version of that in-between time.

Before I painted the painting, I wrote about this time:

This is my waiting time.

You know the time, the day;
that fateful Saturday
between ghoulish, ghastly, deadly Friday
exuberant, exhilarating, life-full Sunday.

The waiting day.

(the day when most thought death ruled
and few waited for promise truth)

The waiting day.
The in-between day.

This is my time.
Much of me has died
(cut out,
laid to rest).

Doctors say the waiting time goes on
(but healing is there).
Creator/Flesh/Spirit says the waiting time goes on
(but the promise will come).

As him who died (and lived)
was still (somehow) life;
I am dead/alive
in my waiting time.



Wisdom Dove Speaks

This is a combination of Jim Hansford’s shed window frame, Steph’s raw oak outside frame, fine woven cotton and rough canvas, variously tied and streched.

It was painted in 1992 when I was Artist in Residence for the United Reformed Church Forum conference. Themed ‘Roots and Branches’ the conference was planned to look at the roots of the URC; I couldn’t help but go back to the roots of our faith altogether. To me, the right side is rather like the knowledge of God as shared before Jesus Christ and the left, that knowledge as made human in the world. The Spirit (Wisdom Dove) is everywhere.

It hangs in this exhibition as a statement of that which I have always felt held me and a statement of what I always believed.