Source: Farm Street/ICN
Farm Street Church has an important contemporary painting on display in the St Aloysius chapel. The epic work In Memoriam, of the Last Supper, is a masterpiece on long-term loan from the church's artist in residence, Andrew White.
Andrew painted the twelve-foot-long canvas of the Last Supper, which was brought to Farm Street from the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. The central panel could easily be interpreted as the supper at Emmaus, but the bowl in front of the disciples reflecting the bread and hands may refer to Matthew 26:23: "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me."
Andrew White gave a presentation in the church on 19th February and beforehand talked about the inspiration and events running up to the creation of his Last Supper: "The idea came through my wife - we were in a situation where the business was struggling and it was a difficult time to know which direction to go. We thought that in order to try and help the business we needed a figurative idea. My wife suggested the Last Supper which surprised me because up until that point I had mainly been involved with commercial galleries. I have always been shy of getting into the Christian art arena."
Andrew was sceptical at first so he started off with a painting of only three-foot-long but as he started he felt that there was more to the idea. Talking about the growth along the journey, he said: "As the weeks went by, I felt that I should invest more and more time into the work. And as the painting grew in size and as my commitment in time was invested in that project, I realised that God was doing something and that I needed to pay attention to a journey that was opening up."
Andrew's work can also be viewed as an aid to imaginative contemplation: "I am fascinated by still moments and love still life. I felt that I needed to capture a moment that could exist in real time so that, as a viewer, we could almost put ourselves into the painting and become part of that frozen moment."
Andrew's painting of the Pieta (also on display in the church) has resonated deeply with many members of the parish community. The faces of Jesus and Mary are in shadow and we are drawn to the intimacy of Mary laying her hand on her dead Son's hand. Fr Geoff Wheaton SJ has made a suggestion for further reflection: look very closely at Mary's hand in the painting.
Andrew's depiction of the Last Supper has won him plenty of admirers as well as establishing his reputation as a prominent artist in Britain. It was shown last year at the Resurrection Exhibition of work by Catholic artists which opened at the Hurtado Centre and also visited Farm Street.
You can learn more about the painting of the Last Supper and the creative process on the Ignatian Insight blog
Watch Andrew White speaking about his work during the exhibition at the Hurtado Centre: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjW3EM7TD-Y&t=23s