Artwork has entered the building

Narthex triptych in the reception of Trinity College
Narthex triptych in the reception of Trinity College

I’m thinking about the phrase ‘making an entrance’ – I think my artwork here in Trinity College’s reception is introducing itself quite quietly, but hopefully so as to point out the process and the means, rather than as a showy full-stop.

Trinity itself is, after all, about the process and the means. The showy full-stop is God, and I don’t think anyone here has the visual, doctrinal or textual monopoly on describing who He is. I do, however, want to raise the curtain on what happens to people here, to their perceptions and to the reframing nature of faith.

These pieces were made in 2011, and were included in a Bristol exhibition called ‘Walking Through the Veil’. They are about transition – visually, from negative image to positive image, from forest as flattened pattern to 3D space. But also mystically, from self-involved relating to the world to spacious inter-relating. It’s the resonance of a entrance-way, which in a church’s structure is called the narthex, where you turn round to find yourself in a different type of space. A space that reframes you, rather more than you do it.

What can you see in a cathedral of trees?

Narthex I - IVNarthex I – IV, 2011.
New work for exhibition at the Grant Bradley Gallery’s group show Walking Through the Veil.

Trees and forests have long been held as places of mystical encounter. For Britons, it’s in our psyche, and we defend woodland religiously. Even if only as a place of nominally unspoilt nature, it’s a demarcated zone for a different type of relationship with the world.
Here, I’m looking at the view through a cluster of lime trees during a Oxfordshire winter that ascribes something ‘otherworldly’ to the scene. The trunks and branches are silhouetted by an emanation of light which suggests some kind of presence, some ‘pentecostal fire’ to quote Eliot (below). It’s like being on the edge of a holy place, looking down an aisle towards an altar.

What do darkness and light say about concealment and revelation? Does one include you and the other exclude you? Is there a breeze where you’re standing? I’m interested in the perception of liminality – being on a threshold of transformation because a physical encounter becomes a metaphysical one. Feel free to post a comment about my work, and do visit the exhibition.

Midwinter spring is its own season

Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,

Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.

When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,

The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,

In windless cold that is the heart’s heat,

Reflecting in a watery mirror

A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.

And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,

Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire

In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing

The soul’s sap quivers. There is no earth smell

Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time

But not in time’s covenant.

T.S. Eliot, from Part I of ‘Little Gidding’.