Exhibition: Holy Spirit, Shaping Presence - review

  • Bess Twiston-Davies

Fergal Martin - Apocalypse - Lifting the Veil.....  Photo: Mike Quirke

Fergal Martin - Apocalypse - Lifting the Veil..... Photo: Mike Quirke

When Fergal Martin drew an A4-sized diagram to help Catholics de-code the Book of Revelation, he had no idea it would develop into a large multi-sectioned painting.

"All I wanted to do was to help my community understand the book,"said Mr Martin, who is the former general secretary of the Catholic Truth Society. The Neo-Catechumenal community he belongs to had begun to study Revelation, verse by verse. "They said they were completely lost."

Only later, while recovering from an operation, did he decide to colour in his pencil diagram. From this - in a Holy Spirit inspired moment - he developed a vast light painting in water gouache.

Apocalypse - Lifting the Veil unlocks the Book of Revelation written by St John towards the end of the 1st Century. "The Book of Revelation is like Tolkien. It has everything: animals, humans, images, visions, plagues, and churches. The number seven is central to it and there are seven stories in the painting," said Mr Martin.

His work is one of the 18 stunning pieces of art now on display at the Servite Church of Our Lady of Dolours in Fulham, South-West London.

'Holy Spirit, Shaping Presence' is the theme of the exhibition. The 14 artists from St Patrick's Studios in Wapping, east London, have interpreted this in a dazzling diversity of media.

Paul Cyr has used red chalk to depict 'Pentecost'. Giuseppe Marasco has deployed egg tempera on panel for his neon-bright 'Jesus is for Everyone (after Dan Robbins). Claire Fitzgerald chose the colours red, gold and white to stitch in silk and damask her 'Behold Jesus, the Lamb of God'. This formed part of her diploma for the Royal College of Needlework.

Swirling layers of textured red paint have been used by Diana Durantel to create 'Come Holy Spirit' and 'Spirit of Fire'. A self-taught artist, Diana began to paint while studying Mathematics. "I needed colour as a sign of God," she said. "I began painting like this a way of expressing my thirst for God."

Before picking up a paintbrush, she prays to the Holy Spirit. "I try to paint God's presence and spirit in our hearts, which I see as a dance full of tenderness and consolation," Diana Durantel said during the launch of the exhibition on September 16th.

Other artists who have contributed to Holy Spirit, Shaping Presence, include Francis Hoyland, Mike Quirke, Eva Jedut, John Bateson, Alice Robertson, Bernard Allen, Daphne Kilner, Lucy Skinner, Alice Farmer and Victoria Brenninkmeijer.

The poet Sarah de Nordwall closed the launch by reading two poems she had written for the occasion: Our Lady of Sorrows, and The Holy Guest. She looked at every painting in the show for inspiration for her second poem, whose title alluded to the work of Lucy Skinner.

Her two pictures show a living room. One, alluding to St Paul's encounter with believers in Ephesus as described in Acts 9:12, is titled, "We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." The second picture shows the same living room: a small white dove is on the sofa. According to a caption, in Anglo-Saxon the Holy Ghost was often translated as 'the Holy Guest'.

Father Chris O'Brien OSM, the acting prior of the Servite Community who run the parish of Our Lady of Dolours, said: "I think the exhibition will help all of us that come to Mass here and have an extra inspiration day by day."

He provides meditations on the liturgy for the St Patrick's School of Artists. Since 2017, they have regularly shown their work in the colonnade that leads into the church of Our Lady of Dolours. "Some of our Italian friaries have wonderful art work so this is fitting," concluded Father O'Brien.

Holy Spirit, Shaping Presence will be on display at the Servite Church of Our Lady of Dolours, 264 Fulham Road,London SW10 9EL until September 25th.


St Patricks Studios https://stpatricksstudios.com

Sarah de Nordwall - www.sarahdenordwall.com

Poem: Our Lady of Sorrows - www.indcatholicnews.com/news/37944

Poem: The Holy Guest - www.indcatholicnews.com/news/37943

Tags: Artists, St Patrick's Studios, Our Lady of Dolours, Fr Chris O'Brien OSM, Diana Durantel, Fergal Martin, Sarah de Nordwall, Alice Robertson

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