Thinking on Sacred and Visual Culture, Peter Lanyon, Paul Nash – Learning Through Looking and Living Through Paint

June 3, 2012

non objective lyrical romantic abstraction fine painting visual art british contemporary

“Pillar and Moon” Acrylic paint, various mediums, pigments,  glass beads, sand, fillers.   50 x 70cm on canvas.

It’s interesting to see the influence of past paintings I have spent time with emerging in my current experiments with paint.   Paul Nash is someone whose work I greatly admire.  His use of colour, the romantic feeling, the application of paint, his subject matter.  It’s all very very good.

I’m wondering where I can go and see more of Peter Lanyon’s paintings, and make a note of that today, adding to the rather long list of things I want to research.  I’m getting increasingly used to not being able to keep up with myself, and my acceptance of this tension being “just there”, and something I don’t have to stress out about, is kind of helpful.  Maybe I should use a sketch book more, and just jot things down.  Relieve myself of them quickly, and trust that they will return another day, when I am older and wiser and know what to do with them.

Once again, I am looking at Clevedon Bandstand painted by Peter Lanyon (1964) and Clevedon Night by Peter Lanyon (1964) and getting something from them I don’t bother to define with words, but which is surely speaking something to me, which seems to be going in somewhere.  Which leads me to think that maybe we have a little too much emphasis on  the  Logos.   Because of my own faith, I’m quite interested in the relationship between the visual arts and the Christian faith, and was fortunate enough to stumble on an essay by Penelope Brook, an extract of which I ponder on again:

“The early apologist, Justin Martyr developed one strand of early Christology that became formative in the Church’s attitude to visual imaging: Logos or Word-Flesh Christology.  Because it expressed the two natures of Christ in philosophical terms that could be readily understood within Hellenism, the apologists, in their Christological formation, became preoccupied by the Logos.  Drawing on notions from Greek philosophy and Judaism, Justin Martyr deveoped the concept of Christ as Logos: the revelation of God as the source of all knowledge. The Western Church developed a more literal than philosophical position to the Logos: Christ as Logos meant Christ revealed in the written and proclaimed word: the scriptures and sacraments.  The Eastern Church’s position was more philosophical and incarnational in basis: Christ as Logos meant Christ the proclaimed, written and imaged word.(my italics)  The Eastern Church viewed the visual image, like the scriptures and sacraments, as a valid and effective vehicle or revelation: a door to the sacred.  Overall, the Eastern Church tended to be more philosophical and spiritual in its theologizing and the West more legalistic and literal”   ( She has noted her reference as L.Ouspensky, and v Lossky, The Meaning of Icons (New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1994, 9-22)

I don’t tend to find an awful lot written on this subject, so it was encouraging to find the above, so well put, and timely for me, as I push on with my own work. Unfortunately there are some people who don’t see creative expression of being of much value, unless it is explicitly Christian, by which they mean, (I think?), that is has a cross or an image from a bible story in it.  This is rather a shame, as my life so far has consisted of more than a cross and images from the bible, and I would be worried if that was the only avenue of expression open to me as a person.  It seems also that our Creator has chosen a much greater variety of forms too, to express Himself through, like people and life and creation. So often, and so well, clarified at times, in the creative arts.

Just recieved some information via email on the following, which looks very interesting and I hope to get along to it:

SEMINAR: Sacred Traditions and the Arts
Tuesday 12 June 2012, 18.00 – 19.30 Inigo Rooms, Somerset House (Large Seminar Room SW-1.12) NB: This is in the newly refurbished King’s section of Somerset House and the room is on the lower ground floor.
Speakers: Professor John Milner (The Courtauld Institute of Art) Dr Aaron Rosen (King’s College London)
The inaugural seminar to explore Sacred Traditions and the Arts is a joint venture between the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s and The Courtauld. It seeks to place researchers in dialogue who are working on any aspect of the sacred and visual culture. It is open to all scholars and students who have an interest in exploring the intersections of religion and art regardless of period, geography or tradition.
On 12 June, Professor John Milner will speak on The Godless and the Ikon: Soviet Materialism in Sacred Forms. Dr Aaron Rosen will then present a paper entitled Jewish Artists/Christian Spaces: Mark Rothko and Louise Nevelson. This pairing explores and complicates notions of sacred experience in relation to modern spaces and identity in Russia and the United States in the twentieth century.

I have titled the following painting “Living Water” because I find painting is very much a source of refreshment and revitalisation to me, (as the Holy Spirit is) and for me the two very often flow together.

non objective lyrical abstraction contemporary british fine painting

Thinking about water, I’m rather immersing myself right now!



One Response to “Thinking on Sacred and Visual Culture, Peter Lanyon, Paul Nash – Learning Through Looking and Living Through Paint”

  1. jennymeehan Says:

    Please note that my website is now and that no longer exists. Take a look at my work and sign up for a bi-annual newsletter and/or follow me on

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