Tabernacle

2014

About the painting

Tabernacle started with the wooden top of the Communion table from the Methodist Church. The wavy lines were already in the wood – the medullary rays of oak. The rays have energy and lean to the right, giving a sense of movement and forward momentum. The buildings are photographs and a watercolour of the Congregational building and a photo of the new Carrs Lane. Before I received either the wood or the images, I knew of the multi-cultural community of Carrs Lane and the long held passion for inclusion and justice. I heard the history of the hordes of people who would make their way from New Street station on Sundays.

In the months in which I decoupaged the building images onto the wood, both the energy of those rays and the stories of the people wove together. All become merged with the energy propelling the people, the people carrying the energy, the buildings holding the people at many points. The medullary rays caught the buildings and seem to sweep the sky into the future. It is as if whatever happened in the building, from the building, and around the building threw itself into its next stages.

Some in the crowds stop - on the gallery of the Congregational building and in the body of the church, though they are still embedded in the rays – which themselves took on the role of depicting the movement of the Holy Spirit throughout the work. It points to the movement of the Holy Spirit throughout the life of all that was and will be the life of the Church at Carrs Lane.

The people move to the new space, full of light and energy. The bright Spirit light is below the feet of the people, holding their steps, bubbling through them from the rays. Some people sit a while in the new Sanctuary, the cross now very clear. New life is celebrated.   The black and white architect’s photo has turned into a coloured and vibrant throng of people.  Here is where the old is sandwiched between the new – the communion table oak between new canvas. Thin canvas comes from a gap in the wood and thicker canvas is on a stretcher behind the wood. The myriad of people move on and their shapes become more noticeable. The energy light continues to bubble up through them. Holy Spirit, with red as its liturgical colour is both the bubbling light from the rays and the red glaze holding the people moving across from wood to canvas.

As the people move on, the new canvas holds images of the old buildings, glowing in some people’s memory, but not in everyone’s memory. The future holds the past and carries its images, but does not carry the same shape. The future literally unfolds as the canvas folds portray. People have become larger and more identifiable, pausing in the old space and clearly gathering together.

And the people move on, stop a while, share and move on again. Some clusters of people are the same colour, a group having similar interests or experiences. Other groups show varying ages or abilities. There are halos here and there, telling us that there are saints amongst us all.   And by the right hand side, it ends and continues. The people become less distinct, telling us that we can’t know the future. Yet this is all somehow uphill, a hopeful unknowing.

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