Monday, 11 July 2011

Living Stones

A church is built not just of bricks and mortar but the people who regularly meet and worship there.

Our church made up of the most amazing people.  They have supported and comforted us over these last few months and I am so grateful this is where God has put us as a family.  Somewhere special to be cared for.

Every time I walk into the building it is like coming home to a place I am loved and accepted just as I am.

One of the best areas of the actual building is the back of the church where an artspace has been created.  We have so many talented people within the congregation that we regularly hold art exhibitions and have no trouble between us filling the space with the most marvellous creations.

The last exhibition took a different direction and was an historical one; treasures from bygone days were unearthed and researched.  We celebrated the people of the past who had contributed to the life of the church making it the special place it is today.

The historical exhibition, No Stone Unturned was then used as a catalyst for our current art exhibition entitled Living Stones.  The grand launch was on Friday night and what has been produced by young and old is stunning.

There are two exhibits I had already seen. 
My youngest son made a model using Lego.  He is now a seasoned exhibitor; his last K-nex model even went on tour!

And this time I decided to have a go too.  After experimenting with a few art workshops in the past I felt ready to go solo.  It was a daunting prospect with so many skilled artists around!

It isn’t just the artwork itself which is impressive but the thought processes behind them.  A few of the words below the pictures had me welling up, speaking of the twists and turns of faith and the artist’s individual journeys.

So I thought I would explain my work and how it came about.  The whole process was cathartic and I gained more from it than just a new picture for my wall.

As my starting point I used the church tower.  There are days when I drive past and the contrast between the solid stone tower and never ending blue of the sky is so dramatic and striking.  One is tangible the other ethereal but nevertheless real.

Churches were built as a place to worship and honour God but there is no way we can contain all of God inside because he is everywhere.  Our creative talents come from him who fashioned the entire universe.

I played around with ideas of bright blue sky against dark stone.  As I am a writer more than an artist my first thoughts were to use words.   Heavy, substantial words to describe the solid dependable brick structure in bold type against free flowing cursive words to write about God and love and trust and faith, things you can’t see but are there all around us.

I soon abandoned the tower as the more I looked the more complex it appeared but I settled on another roofline and at the apex was a cross.

I was beginning to find my feet and I knew that this was something I was actually going to finish.  I’ve had ideas in my head before but that’s where they had stayed and I am terrible at finishing projects.  This time the sparks were coming together and although there was only a short timescale it was manageable and important.

Very quickly my work developed into a personal a statement of the last few years.  I decided to keep the light airy blue and the collection of thoughts and words to match but the building part of my picture became my photos.  Each a tangible building block of my life expressing the feelings and emotions that “float” in the air.  Every one having a special meaning corresponding to the words swirling in the sky.

Firstly I used family photos I already had. 

Outings that reminded me of special days spent together.  They represent love and laughter, time and family.  At the pinnacle is the last ever photo taken of the four us as a family, a very precious memory.  There are photos from Christmases and summer holidays, images of visitors from overseas, some of just Andrew and I together and the first photo taken on my mobile phone – Andrew!  The people that make up our life.

Some people and events I wish I had photos of to have added but I am not the sort of person to have a camera to hand at every situation.  These are the snapshots in my mind.  However this artwork only shows part of the church, only really featuring a few years of my life when things were recorded digitally.  There are no photos of the children as babies or the early years of married life.  My work shows just a few years of the whole.

Other photos I took deliberately to add to the piece. Some are obvious and others more obscure.   A rose bush from the garden – read my last garden post.  (It probably explains where the idea to use photos comes from too.)

Our new guinea pig cage made especially by a friend.  A lemon meringue made for a meal together with friends.  Our rocking chair where Andrew was fond of sitting and which we bought for the nursery when we started our family.
The bannisters remind me of an evening spent with Andrew painting spindles.  Building our home together one piece at a time.  I also laid out our wedding rings on my wedding dress along with my engagement and eternity ring. 
Each photo was selected and cut out individually.  Just like each stone of the church would have been.  They were laid down and built up to fit.  Every photo will have my finger prints on because it is the life I have built.  

I thought as I worked of the individual stones of the church and the time taken to build it and people who set each stone in its right place.  They had their own lives with their own living stones, important events and people in their lives.
At the top of the apex was a cross set in a circle.  I used a piece of crochet I had made with a friend’s help for the round and a cross made of screws that I had created in a church service last summer.  They are a sign of creativity along with many other photos that show things I have made.

The piece as a whole is my memories specific to this time.  As I’ve said there are no photos before 2003.  They are not the foundations of my life and certainly not the whole.  It represents one part and there are plenty more walls to still be built.

As I carefully painted the words in the sky I was reminded of the verse at the end of 1 Corinthians 13.  Paul is writing about love and ends by saying that in the end only three things remain “faith, hope and love”.

I know I’ve included other words in my sky but to me they are also important.  These are the principles we are building up towards.  Reaching to infinity, which the thesaurus on the computer helpfully said was an alternative for eternity.

“Building Eternity” seemed to be a fitting title for the finished piece.  

Here they are, my living stones built as a monument to meet God’s ideals the best way I can.

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