Touching Rainbows: Lady Margaret Hall

Wednesday 16 February - Tuesday 22 February 2000

Paintings in this exhibition

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

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.

Washington Nets

I finished this painting when I was on sabbatical in my ministry in 1998. I can’t say that like other paintings, it was deliberately a theological statement. It came from a photograph I took when I was doing photojournalism back in the 1970s in my art degree course in Washington DC. It mixes cultures; Washingtonians rarely have net curtains and the culture of peering through them to watch people is British, not American. But I felt like an observer of this young lad, dressed of another time even from the 70s, with a bicycle of another age even from that. The streamers from the handlebars show this to be a whizzy bike indeed. But the colour of this cyclist’s skin shows were he felt safe enough to have a rest in Washington; at the back of a shed, next to a skip.

Perhaps I felt it made a theological statement after all.

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.



Before You Were Born I knew You

This is canvas stretched on an old window frame. I was not sure what I would paint, but as I sensed the fabric coming in and out of the frame, ebbing and flowing, I felt the movement of people. I sensed that kind of anonymous mass which often, from the upper levels of urban buildings, looks like a wash of humanity with no apparent purpose or identity. As I painted the flowing hoard, I realised that to God, each individual moment of that hoard is not anonymous, but known and known intimately. Indeed, the title comes in part from Psalm 139 recounting the faith that even before we were in our mother’s womb, we were known.

So in this crowd, there are moments of detail. Moments which remind us that we are not anonymous to God.

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.

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.