The Bible as a source for narrative painting

Many, many years ago I was happily painting my abstract paintings when Danny Sullivan suggested that I should read passages from the Bible to see what I could find. Eventually, this I did and I created a series of paintings about The Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse, Isiah, The Good Samaritan, and quite a few others. These were sold and the seed was sewn for what now is quite an obsessive interest. The results were, for me, quite far reaching, and feed into many aspects of my work today.

Advent was a series commissioned in late 2000 by Danny Sullivan, the new Director of Education, Diocese of Oxford, and really represents the beginning of this journey

Development shows how these paintings now evolve.

Following on from the success of the Advent project, in the Summer of 2001, the Diocese proposed the 'The life of Jesus through the eyes of an artist'. In October 2001 I began work on the project.

The life of Jesus through the eyes of an artist was a joint project between myself, the Oxford-based publisher BRF, and supported through the generosity of the Diocese of Oxford.

The objective was to create a new Bible for children and adults alike. We did not want to create another picture book about Jesus that simply regurgitated the usual stories in the same banal way. Nor did we want paintings that are overtly inward looking, which is sadly true of a great deal of contemporary religious art. What we wanted was to look at the events surrounding the life of Jesus in a fresh way and without preconceptions. For this reason, I was lucky enough to be given the freedom to interpret the selected texts as I chose and develop the ideas both in individual paintings and across the whole of the project.

I have divided up this series of paintings into logical groups, as they have been exhibited. Infancy deals with Jesus childhood; Ministry with His work including some miracles; Passion and Glory are the Easter story and the end of Jesus life. This series is by no means complete. I have started on another set based on Old Testament Prophets which should make an appearance some time in 2007/2008.

All told, it took over 2 years to complete the 24 paintings that are now the basis for a book, 'The life of Jesus through the eyes of an artist'. The internet is not really the best way to see them, but perhaps you have made it to one of the beautiful Cathedrals and Churches which has been hosting the touring exhibition. This exhibition will continue in to 2006 and 2007.

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