Research showed that hangman's noose at the neck, and a dagger in the chest was the usual motif.With twenty characters to depict, the dagger and rope may have got a bit "samey". Variety was needed to pay tribute to each individual Saint.
Putting Faces to Names
I though it best to follow convention where "portraits" of the Martyrs were concerned, working from historic images of them.
Unable to find any portraits of Blessed Thomas Maxfield, I had to decide on his appearance, and what symbols I could use to identify him;
and so here is what I chose:
The flowers he holds signify more than just the fact that both the Gallows and his path to them were strewn with wild flowers; I chose species which represent the blood of the martyrs and their association with the passion of Christ.
The butterfly is a nod to his having suffered biting insects when imprisoned; though I have used here the symbol of "Eternal Life".
Balancing act with colours
The composition of the mural was to echo the paintings of Giotto and Fra Angelico.
As both had distinct styles, I chose elements from both to achieve the desired marriage between the two!
These artists did not use perspective as a contemporary artist would, and they favoured large discs of halos, and layering of their figures.
Last year we restored a Marian Retable for a church in Accrington.
The original shrine statue was long gone, and the replacement didn't quite fit.
To accommodate her size, some carved swags had been removed.
Despite her pretty face, stylistically the figure was rather stiffly posed; the overall impression was one of tension, as though she was teetering on the edge, preparing to jump.
Fr. S wanted to find something more fitting to help with devotions in his church.
Providentially, the answer to this problem came as a commission for us to produce a new statue of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.
Our Lady under this title is traditionally portrayed in a shade of Royal blue, with a red gown.
As I painted the wine (precious blood of Christ) within the chalice, it felt right to continue this colour onto Mary's gown; (mindful that Jesus is of Mary's blood line.)
I decorated the hem of Mary's gown with orpherys of gold, similar to the ornament found on ornate tabernacles, for both are places which house Our Lord Jesus.
In making the statue, I felt it was important to have the Christ child assimilating the same gesture as the priest. (Who during the celebration of the Mass, serves in persona Christi, that is, in the very person of Christ, who is truly present.)
The new statue of Our Lady had to fit exactly into the existing aperture, and this was one reason Fr. S had problems finding a replacement. The apse was chamfered on both sides, so measurements had to be exact.
" Because he belongs to Christ, the priest is radically at the service of all people: he is the minister of their salvation, their happiness and their authentic liberation, developing, in this gradual assumption of Christ's will, in prayer, in "being heart to heart" with him. Therefore this is the indispensable condition for every proclamation, which entails participation in the sacramental offering of the Eucharist and docile obedience to the Church." - Pope Benedict XVI 24 June 2009
It was a real treat when my friend invited me and my family to visit Oscott Seminary for the Easter Celebration of Mass.
We had forgotten that the clocks had moved forward, which meant we arrived slightly late; (though we had thought we would be too early!) Any disappointment at missing the first part of the Mass was soon put aside as we tip toed in to take our seats at the rear. The all male choir sang beautifully, (and the Archbishop also!)
The photos I took on my mobile later in the day, didn't do the interiors justice, and admittedly I was too busy discussing the artworks with my friend to take many;
I left that to my children who had smiles from ear to ear, and described the whole experience as "Boss!"
Its one Easter Sunday that will remain a happy and "holy" memory for us, and for that I cannot thank my friend enough...
The journey home was slow though, one or two incidents" on the Motorway had us sitting in traffic for some time.
It didn't seem to matter, we all went to our beds feeling richer that night!
Recently, we have been planning the restoration of a Marian themed retable at an Accrington church.
It was installed in the mid 1930's and was designed by the renowned Architect "Giles Gilbert Scott" - Most commonly known for his design of the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool, and the once familiar red telephone box.
A new Retable on the opposite transept of the church had been installed in the 1970's; and with all the re-ordering in process; (which advocated " In with the new, and out with the old.")
It was decided that the old Marian Retable should be adjusted to match the new one....(rather than vice versa! )
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I've been asked by Father C to re-design the decorative scheme for this altar, to evoke Christ, rather than his Mother Mary, the Blessed Virgin.
As a "nod to its age, it will be in a medieval gothic style. (I believe its from the days of the architect Pugin, or slightly earlier.)
I'll post again when its done with some before and after images,
until then, to the left is William Blakes marvellous work " Ancient of Days" depicting God measuring out the universe with a Compass.
Art and Maths need each other, like faith and reason; Seems Blake and Pugin understood that Divine order- liness, extends even unto the realm of liturgical arts!
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