Sunday, 18 September 2016

Works in progress

Two of the people in our household – Hebe and Alice – work as freelance artists.

They do all sorts of things. There’s a wonderful bed-and-breakfast establishment in our town called St Benedict, belonging to two Orthodox friends. The inside of the house is very richly decorated, and various parts of it have been painted by Alice and Hebe. Like the panels of these folding doors,




and this mirror - painted from the back (so fiendishly hard to do; they had to layer the flowers from foreground to background, counter-intuitive. Then gild over the whole back with white gold):





That house has a tiny jewel of a chapel nestled into a corner of the garden. To made it into a thoroughgoing Orthodox chapel, it recently had a dome added to it that came to Alice and Hebe to be painted. But before that, a canopy where a lantern will hang. This is how it arrived, with just Alice's (or Hebe's) first pencil sketch on it.  



Then half finished.



Here it is looking suitably atmospheric by candle light once finished.





Just now, Alice and Hebe have Pope John Paul II and St Vincent Palotti in their studio. This work is for St Mary Star of the Sea in Hastings Old Town. I think they must have a special devotion to St Vincent there, because a commission from a while back was also of him. The statues arrive at our house looking ghostly – here’s St Vincent Palotti when he got here:




Here he is now, with Pope John Paul in the background, waiting patiently for his turn.












Hebe says when she is painting saints they draw near to help her. She says Our Lady is the best – she joins in to make the statue really pretty, every time. Here's a Mary they did:




But Hebe says the worst one is Jesus. He looks at what she’s doing and says with cheerful approval, “That’s fine!” And she asks him – “Should I make the colour a bit warmer – more detail round the eyes?” And he just says, “No, it’s fine!”


It’s a wholesome occupation. Reverent and focused, requiring a quiet eye and a steady hand, imagination switched on and powers of observation firing on all cylinders.

18 comments:

Stevie said...

Your artists-in-residence are amazingly talented. I suspect it is BECAUSE they seek the Creator in the works of their hands. Thank you for brightening my day with your photos of their work.

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx

Suze said...

Thank you for sharing this special part of your world. I am in awe. I have painted on glass and think the mirror is amazing and beautiful.

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx

Buzzfloyd said...

I like to think "It's fine" is what Jesus would also have said to that old lady in Borja who tried to restore the Ecce Homo painting.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/spanish-town-saved-by-botched-restoration-of-century-old-christian-ecce-homo-fresco-of-jesus-9928738.html

Pen Wilcock said...

Hahaha - yes!

Sandra Ann said...

I miss my icon afternoons, quiet plain chant in the background, the pause before the work and the intercession of the image, such peace. Hebe and Alice are blessed in the work they do and in the talents they share xx

Pen Wilcock said...

:0)

Have you posted pictures online of the icons you made, San?

Rose Humphrey said...

These are amazing! Congratulations to your artists in residence!

Rebecca said...

Oh, my! The mirror is so impressive...
I am silenced by the thought of their bond/commuication with the saints.
And the words of Jesus jumped off the screen to bless ME!
The words you use to summarize their "wholesome occupation" are art in themselves.
God bless your household today.

Pen Wilcock said...

Thanks, Rosie xx

Thanks, Rebecca. Yes, we need blessing - we are off for a couple of nights camping with Buzzfloyd, Little Sardine and The Blur. Should be fun. Just one of us left at home to keep the cats company and be a Constant House Angel. Can't believe how much stuff we need for two nights away in a tent - or in the case of the Badger and me, a tipi. Because we sent our tent to the refugees at Calais, who actually needed it to live in, not just to lark about! xx

Pilgrim said...

I love the little Orthodox chapel in the backyard.

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx

Julie B. said...

Alice and Hebe's gifts are astounding, really. Every single photo was a delight to study and marvel over.

You are brave to go camping. I would need help up off the ground after a night's sleep in a tipi. (Yes, I always thought camping seemed like more work than a vacation should, but I'm trending toward laziness the older I get, so....)

God bless you all... xoxo

Pen Wilcock said...

Ah, yes, I too am observing in myself the creeping inactivity of growing older. I keep thinking 'I really must do something about this . . . ' Your knees wouldn't like floor sleeping, I suspect. As it turned out, there were rats in our tipi, so I slept in the car. xx

Sis said...

I finally figured out how to write the comment. I just finished book 8 of the Hawk and the Dove. I am a Benedictine Sister in Indiana, USA . I live with about 55 sisters. Many of us have read your series. thank you so much. Each book calls me to live more deeply the call i have to live in community. The books are almost like retreats--calling us to deepen our commitment.
I am going to restart the series. I also get renewed joy. Thanks. If you are ever in Indiana, please come by.

Sr. kathleen Yeadon, OSB

Pen Wilcock said...

Hooray! Well done for getting in, Sr Kathleen! I know, Google blogger's security fence can be hard to get over - lots of people find it so. In the early days of this blog I left it open and easy for people to comment, but quickly discovered if you do that people use the comment boxes to plant advertising, some of it very unsavoury. So now all comments go through me and need the check.
It makes me so very happy when a sister or brother writes to say my stories have blessed them. Thank you so much. Please say hello from me to the sisters in your community. Book 8 is 'The Beautiful Thread'. Do you have book 9 ('A Day and A Life')? I'll send you a copy, in case not. God bless your day and your work and your community, and thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to get in touch. xx

Pen Wilcock said...

Sr Kathleen - thank you so much for your second message. I popped a parcel in the mail for you today. Actually I didn't get your message until I came back from the Post Office, so I sent you a copy of A Day And A Life - pass it on to whoever would like. But when I was packing it up the thought occurred to me that you might enjoy the Lent book - so I put that in too. And then, hooray, when I got home I found your message saying that's what you'd like, so job well done Holy Spirit!
If you comment here again giving me your email address (you can do email? Some of our sisters here don't get to have email except strictly on monastery business) I'll write back to you about the things you asked regarding the novels. If email's not the way forward I'll send a regular paper letter to the address you put in your recent comment.
I didn't send the books by superfast post, but they should find their way to you in due course. God bless you and all the community. x