Serendipity

Stations of the Cross l

Serendipity; The Stations of the Cross.

I recently decided to create a series of images based on ‘ The Stations of the Cross’ not for their religious implications but because they are part of a story or narrative that still influences today whether we are religious or not.

After initial research and sketches of all fourteen of the Stations I started the final image of the first in March this year and initially was pleased with the results, but on a visit to Scunthorpe to see Antony  Gormely’s ‘Field for Britain’ at the 20/21 gallery,  I visited the local charity shops looking for art books and catalogues, as is my normal habit and what should I come across but a book of ‘The Stations of the Cross’ for St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Manchester, by Norman Adams RA, serendipity one. Where was I going in two weeks with a group of friends to meet up with others, but to Manchester, serendipity two.

I had the images in the catalogue of the works but went along to see them, possible a mistake on my part, I had seen them in the catalogue but when you see them in the flesh they are remarkable pieces of work, so work stopped on my images as one compares what I would call the intangible value and power in his and my own works. Adams’ works is the most powerful series of contemporary spiritual paintings I have come across.

It has taken six months to move forward and having ignored my image for that length of time have come back to it and viewed through a clearer lens from my own perspective have decided to continue with the series.

The remainder of this text will I hope enlighten the reader on that perspective.

In so far as morality is more than the sum total of mores, of customs and behaviour solidified through tradition and valid on the ground of agreements, both of which change with time, it has, at least politically, no more support itself than the good will to counter the enormous risks of action by the readiness to forgive and to be forgiven, to make promises and to keep them. [1]

Action is, in fact, the one miracle-working faculty of man, as Jesus of Nazareth, whose insights into this faculty can be compared in their originality and unprecedentedness with Socrates’ insights into the possibilities of thought, must have known very well when he likened the power to forgive to the more general power of performing miracles, putting both on the same level and both within the reach of man. [2]

I have spent the last ten years trying to understand who I am, I have read renowned thinkers like Descartes, John Locke, Michel Foucault, Henri Bergson, I even ventured into Plato’s Republic; I have read mathematicians like Roger Penrose, scientists like Richard Feynman and psychologists like Oliver Sacks, add to this the innumerable snippets of insights and thoughts gleaned from today’s virtual resources you would think I should have the job cracked but no, I still can’t put into words who I am.

Whilst I have a much deeper understanding of the factors and influences that have shaped me, this part of me that I cannot show the world has taken on a spiritual dimension. It is this dimension, the influencing narratives, paradigms, hegemonies and pedagogy that I want to explore through this series.

These are not religious paintings, but I seek to have within them a spiritual value that touches upon that inner self, that life force, but also through perhaps one of the best know stories, that of Christ’s Crucifixion,  explore the mechanisms through which we all locate the ‘wee man’ inside us we call ourselves.

An important part of this series is a new area of interest to me, it is less about me and more of how ewe as individuals or communities and nations come together and how we use these mechanisms to interact with different peoples, how we live together and how we resolve different beliefs within the system of customs and traditions that have evolved.

The first ‘Station of the Cross’ is the Christ condemned, so in the image I use half the ‘Scales of Justice’ lowered down to suggest a judgment against someone, in the scale are the three nails that will be required for the crucifixion two small for the hands and one larger for the feet together in the shape of a crucifix.  These objects and there placement all have meaning in Western pedagogies.

The rest of the image contains sections which reference human feelings through metaphor, the blue could be water rushing towards you evoking flooding, torrents ideas that oppress the spirit, the brighter colours and lighter sections of the image reflecting more optimistic or positive outcomes both ends of a spectrum of feelings through which we make judgments.

There is much of the image that is the work of the ‘wee man’ inside me that is intuitive and spontaneous, that is a product of what I find impossible to put into words.

About the work:  The work is mixed media on primed paper, primarily oil but also charcoal. The image measures; width 105cm x height 115cm

[1] Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 1958, University of Chicago Press, page 245 [par. 2].

[2] Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 1958, University of Chicago Press, page 246 [par. 2].