Sherwood Art Week: The Long Story

Saturday 21 June - Wednesday 29 June 2016

Paintings in this exhibition

Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger version with description:

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.

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.


This painting began as a surface to paint out my brushes and palette at the end of each studio day.  The more I painted out my brushes, the more human shapes appeared.  One day I noticed that some of the shapes made a single large head and then I realised that this canvas wanted to speak.  As it did, I realised that no matter what colour, shape or size we are, somehow, we are all one.

That you may have life

Rainbows are huge for me. I love them because I have to find the dark to see them. Placing my back to the light, pursuing the search in the dark clouds, there they are – all the colours in the universe arching in one (or two) shining bows, reminding the dark that it is only vapour.

I tried so often to paint rainbows, finding twee results. This just catches a moment. It is hard to see on this photo, but the painting is mounted on glass, of which you can just see the faint outside edge. The glass mount is just that, glass. See through to whatever, reflecting whatever. The rainbow is the light, the glass almost water.

The title is from the gospel of John, my favourite theologian, who has Jesus say, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”.

I wrote about rainbows:

You have to know where the light is

To see the promise

In the dark.

You can catch glimpses,

Without knowing.

If you stare at the dark on those caught times,

You’ll see the coloured promise.




Know the light behind you.

Study its source.


each time you see the dark,

Drenched in dour and damp gloom,


With the light behind you.


To meet the dark.

“I promise.”

“No more destruction.”



The stone Was Rolled Away

I woke one morning with this picture on my brain. I could see the vaulted ceiling of a huge cathedral and I could see a small person – minimised and apparently ignored by the immensity of the institution of the church. But as I painted, I couldn’t manage the person in the bottom right hand corner and realised that s/he shouldn’t be there.

Suddenly fabric burst forth with colour and movement and shape. What appears as a fuzzy mass at the bottom right of the painting is white gauze and ribbons; the bursting forth. As I watched this grow, it became a statement of my distance from, yet attachment to, the institutional church. The church and its core creeds have told me of love when I wished particular people might have. I have been ordained and upheld by the church, even with my own deep critique of it. I both belong to it and fly out of it.

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.

Word Becomes Flesh

This began in my new studio on a gift canvas from Luke. As I worked, I saw three persons of the Trinity, imagining the top person Creator, the centre person, Spirit and the one of the edge, the Incarnated One.  But as time went on, I recalled the theologian Carl Rahner’s note that any one of the Trinity could have become The Christ.

I enjoyed watching the female creator with her blond plait, but began to see that she could easily be Spirit Light and the Incarnated One could be female.  I enjoyed working with Spirit as an African Caribbean male with his warmth and energy, yet, as he plays with energy, he could be Creator and that the Incarnated One African Caribbean. As the Jesus figure holds light with no fear he could be Creator, and as an Arab, he could have been Spirit at anytime in Old Testament Prophets.  What we know is that Word becomes flesh.

The heavy damask cloth reminds me of heavy curtains in church alcoves and side chapels.  Under the fabric bounces Trinity symbols, pushing through the traditional church fabric to remind us again and again that there is no fixed way of knowing God.