Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Images of the Stations of the Cross - the Sacred Art of Helen McIldowie-Jenkins

A reader has directed my attention to the paintings of this London based Catholic painter. She bases here style on the 14th century Italian gothic style. I am encouraged that she is developing so well a voice, so to speak, that is characteristic of the Western tradition. I am reminded of the Florentine painter Lorenzo Monaco, whose paintings I used to see regularly in the National Gallery in London when I lived there. The link for the full set on her website is here; and to her notes on the commission here.

These new Stations were blessed by the Bishop of Norwich at Wymondham Abbey on Laetare Sunday.

There is one point of consideration here and that is the choice of painting the buildings in the style of 14th century Italy and some of the figures dressed in clothes contemporary to that period (we see that in the 5th station particularly. When painted, these were echoes of what the world around them looked like at that time. One might argue that today, if we were to adopt the same principle, we would be showing modern buildings and modern clothes painted in a gothic style. It is difficult to imagine, but it is the job of the artist to imagine for us. This is the talking point that I brought up recently in connection with my own work in the style of the English School of St Albans. I painted a pious knight in chainmail and wondered if I should have been painting a pious Wall Street trader in pinstripe suit as a modern equivalent!

On the other hand it might be argued that although not historically accurate representation of Palestine of 2000 years ago is nevertheless convincing to the modern viewer in regard to sacred art. We are not concerned with strict historical representation provided the principles that we do wish to convey are communicated, and the style is certainly the right balance of naturalism and abstraction that one would want to see. One could argue therefore, that it evokes another age sufficiently for us to acknowledge that this event took place historically in the past and then we move past that and on to the spiritual lessons.

Christ meets his mother

Christ's Second Fall

Christ is nailed to the cross

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