St Paul’s Church of England Church, Hook, Surrey Holy Week art installation/prayer area in chancel area of church using Poetry, Painting and Prayer

March 21, 2016

I’m posting this up in addition to my usual once a month post, as it is Holy Week now and I want this up in time!  I am hoping that those in the area who are interested in creative communications and the Christian faith, and would like to invest some time into drawing closer to themselves and God over the Holy Week, will be encouraged to use St Paul’s Church in Hook during those times when it will be open for prayerful reflection, meditation and contemplation.  (or just one of those would suffice!!!!)

Between 7 and 8pm…  Monday to Thursday the church will be open.

On Good Friday the installation will be taken away, but in the evening there will be a performance of  Requiem by Gabriel Fauré which starts at 7pm.

 

Images from St Paul’s Church, Hook  “Holy Week” Installation

First of all there were lots of different areas in the church building used by many different people, and all wonderfully put together and conceived which will provide lots of opportunity for people to guide their prayer experiences…I am just focusing on my own contribution here as this is the focus of this blog, but I will be posting more images on Facebook which will show others work as well.

This is how I chose to use the Chancel area of St Paul’s Church, Hook.  It’s my own place of corporate worship, so it was very lovely to bring myself into the space and express thoughts and feelings in a visual way.

Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Holy Week art installation in St Paul's Church religious art Christian contemporary art in church buildings, jenny meehan christian contemplative artist painter poet, contemporary use of art in places of worship, art for worship prayer, religious symbolism in church, symbolic language of art in christianity,

Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Holy Week art installation in St Paul’s Church

 

Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Holy Week art installation in St Paul's Church religious art Christian contemporary art in church buildings, jenny meehan christian contemplative artist painter poet, contemporary use of art in places of worship, art for worship prayer, religious symbolism in church, symbolic language of art in christianity,

Love Bade Me Welcome painting displayed as part of art installation at St Paul’s Church of England Church

 

Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Holy Week art installation in St Paul's Church religious art Christian contemporary art in church buildings, jenny meehan christian contemplative artist painter poet, contemporary use of art in places of worship, art for worship prayer, religious symbolism in church, symbolic language of art in christianity,

st pauls church holy week art installation jenny meehan

 

Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Holy Week art installation in St Paul's Church religious art Christian contemporary art in church buildings, jenny meehan christian contemplative artist painter poet, contemporary use of art in places of worship, art for worship prayer, religious symbolism in church, symbolic language of art in christianity,

st pauls church holy week art installation jenny meehan

(not very good quality pictures unfortunately… I really need a better camera!… Looks like I need to pop back and adjust the candles too! These were not part of the original idea, but as is often the case, when you are there you use what you can and how you can.)

 

Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Holy Week art installation in St Paul's Church religious art Christian contemporary art in church buildings, jenny meehan christian contemplative artist painter poet, contemporary use of art in places of worship, art for worship prayer, religious symbolism in church, symbolic language of art in christianity,

st pauls church holy week art installation jenny meehan

 

On the Altar –  I used a white paper table cloth, a sheet,  and a long piece of white canvas.  I dripped some paint, which I made using acrylic medium and a lot of red iron oxide pigment, along the canvas.  Initially this was in separate spots, but I decided to drip them into each other to create a line, not unbroken, but leading into itself in places.   This led from the centre outwards to a plate and knife and fork at each end.  In the middle I had a single red rose in a single stemmed glass vase.  The rose is open and the petals may start to fall at the end of the week.   I felt these symbols to be very common and not particularly innovative, however, they were there to help engage people with the poem by George Herbert, which I put on display near by.

George Herbert. 1593–1632

286. Love

LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.

‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here:’
Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.’
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
‘Who made the eyes but I?’

‘Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘Who bore the blame?’
‘My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’
So I did sit and eat.

Two chairs on each side of the Altar.   Cushions on them, to be comfortable!   Maybe this could be identified as a “Table for Two” !!!!   Altar rail open, of course, as broken, it is the entrance into the area.

 

I put my painting “Love Bade Me Welcome” behind the altar.  Very pleased that the colours worked well.

love bade me welcome painting jenny meehan

love bade me welcome painting jenny meehan

 

 

The Pews

On just one side of the Pews I had a pot of Chrysanthemums; lovely daisy single petal types.  Then another pot from which all the flowers had been cut off.  Then a couple on stalks lying out of water, a couple more in some water, and a few flowers which had been taken apart.

Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Holy Week art installation in St Paul's Church religious art Christian contemporary art in church buildings, jenny meehan christian contemplative artist painter poet, contemporary use of art in places of worship, art for worship prayer, religious symbolism in church, symbolic language of art in christianity,

st pauls church holy week art installation jenny meehan

 

 

Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Holy Week art installation in St Paul's Church religious art Christian contemporary art in church buildings, jenny meehan christian contemplative artist painter poet, contemporary use of art in places of worship, art for worship prayer, religious symbolism in church, symbolic language of art in christianity,

Then I displayed the two poems I wrote when thinking through things. The first to go with the flower on it’s stalk, out of water, and the second for the flowers in the pot.

 

A Poem for Chrysanthemums in Holy Week 2016

Cut
from my roots
I lie and wait. Someone will pick me up
tear me apart.
But what difference will it make, to me?
A stranger from my source
with no future destiny.
Another Poem for Chrysanthemums in Holy Week 2016

Gathered together
Clamouring for space;
Dreaming of re-potting,
Positioning, in a different place.
Some golden, garden, Summer
may be our future lot;
Yet, in the present, happily,
nurtured in our pot.

You may come and take one,
and tear the life apart,
And what is done to one of us
will shake us from the heart
Yet this brings opportunity,
new hope and faith to know.
Because where one is broken
another two may grow.

 

(The ones in water are there simply so I can replenish when need be!)

The meditative activity, if anyone wanted to do it, was taken from Stephen Cottrell’s book “The Things He Carried – A Journey to the Cross: Meditations for Lent and Holy Week” This had several points and suggestions to it, which included a reading from Romans 5. 1-11, and a suggestion for breaking up a flower and after holding it for a while, then trying to reassemble it as best you could. Part of this was feeling “how hopeless it is”  (to try and reassemble it) and also watching “it fade”.

Other Areas

I had the Hymn “What a Friend we have in Jesus”  also displayed in another part of the chancel.   No surprise there…I have been thinking about this Hymn for around the last three years!!!!!!

What a Friend We Have in Jesus | Joseph M. Scriven
1. What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!
2. Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
3. Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.
4. Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

 

Our vicar Luke kindly offered his Father, Iden Wickings’  sculpture for use as part of the installation.

Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Love Bade Me Welcome inspired Altar Piece by Jenny Meehan Holy Week art installation in St Paul's Church religious art Christian contemporary art in church buildings, jenny meehan christian contemplative artist painter poet, contemporary use of art in places of worship, art for worship prayer, religious symbolism in church, symbolic language of art in christianity,

st pauls church holy week art installation jenny meehan

I responded to this sculpture like this:

“Holding On” A poem by Jenny Meehan in response to the sculpture ” ‘Raising the Totem’ by Iden Wickings

Holding on
Substance of my self
standing, but with force, drawing away.
Welded, in baptismal fires
ordained for me.
The effort of this slope of life
is too much…
The gravity and weight of it
beyond my ability to sustain.
Yet
you, Oh Christ…
Within and around me
hold on.
Holding on.

In a single step,
the weight of your love lifts me.
The strength of a hundred men
in just one,
says
“This will last forever”
then
“My work is done”.

 

And I used one of my paintings which I felt worked well with the sculpture visually.  It’s an untitled painting right now… but was painted alongside the Resurrection One and Resurrection Two paintings.  It’s still eluding me a little… I realise the logical and predictable thing is to call it “Resurrection Three” but I might settle for relating it to it’s use in this context, maybe “Resurrection Three/Holding On”

I enjoyed the process of putting it together, especially stretching my arms out when leaning over the altar to smooth out the table cloth.  This has got to be the most profound part for me.. to serve, to bow, to stretch my arms out, maybe there was there a small echo which resonated with my identification with what Christ has done for me.

It’s all part of the service…

Considerations

This strikes me.   I have read it many times before…

“If the Church gained more confidence in the figurative languages on which it is built, it would feel more able to befriend the artists, writers and poets of today with more open and trustful willingness.  Like birds hovering on the strong currents of the air we breathe, people of art and people of faith are keen to discern something of these currents which pull and shape our lives.  It is an exciting task and one that  might create many friendships and maybe even some agreement.   It does not surprise me, then, that it is our cathedrals that, by their beauty of stone, liturgy and music, are housing some of the most reflectice and lively partnerships between the contemporary arts and faith.  It is also our cathedrals for the same reasons, that are attracting many people’s interest in the possibilities of God.   Human beings need intimation as well as specification.” 

Mark Oakley in his book “The Collage of God”  2001.

 

 

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2 Responses to “St Paul’s Church of England Church, Hook, Surrey Holy Week art installation/prayer area in chancel area of church using Poetry, Painting and Prayer”

  1. Sue May Says:

    Hi Jenny

    Thanks so much for sharing your art installation, it is wonderful! Sorry I didn’t see your email until today although it may have been difficult for me to go over and experience it, but I have really appreciated reading about it and enjoying your wonderful painting.

    Sue xx

  2. jennymeehan Says:

    Thank you very much Sue! Jennyx


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