10 March 2014

Art for Lent (6): ‘Gethsemane’
by Iain McKillop

Christ’s ‘High-Priestly Prayer’ from ‘Gethsemane’ by Iain McKillop... part of the exhibition ‘Words of Forgiveness and Hope’ in Lichfield Cathedral

Patrick Comerford

‘Words of Forgiveness and Hope,’ and exhibition for Lent by Iain McKillop opened in Lichfield Cathedral last Wednesday, Ash Wednesday [5 March 2014], and continues in the Cathedral until the First Sunday after Easter [27 April 2014].

The Revd Iain McKillop is a painter and art historian, an Anglican priest and curate of Effingham and Little Bookham in the Diocese of Guildford. Until recently, he lectured in Art History at Kingston College School of Art. His altarpieces hang in Gloucester Cathedral, Saint Peter’s, West Molesey, the University of Gloucestershire and Saint John’s, Bury St Edmunds, with Stations of the Cross in Bury St Edmunds and Ewell.

His exhibitions regularly tour British cathedrals and churches, and he lectures widely on issues of Faith and Art.

The present Lent exhibition in Lichfield Cathedral has been in gestation for several years. Now it brings together his completed works for the first time.

This series of life-size paintings is on exhibition in Lichfield Cathedral throughout Lent and is offered as a form of visual prayer, contemplating the themes of hope and salvation. It feels for those in pain or struggling in life, particularly the plight of so many innocent people who suffer as a result of war.

The exhibition is a series of stations, encouraging the visitor to make a pilgrimage around the cathedral to contemplate and pray. It consists of 21 paintings:

1, ‘Gethsemane’ (exhibited in the Lady Chapel): seven paintings exploring Christ’s inner struggle, responding to the needs of the world;

2, ‘The Seven Last Words from the Cross’ (North Aisle);

3, ‘The Seven Songs of Resurrection’ or Christ’s Resurrection appearances (South Aisle).

Iain McKillop’s six other paintings in the ‘Gethsemane’ part of the exhibition in Lichfield Cathedral

The first part of the exhibition, Gethsemane, is a series of seven paintings on exhibit in the Lady Chapel. They were first shown in Huddersfield.

These paintings follow the evening of Christ’s preparation for his arrest and suffering, through the Gospel narrative and Christ’s “High-Priestly Prayer” (see John 17). They explore Christ’s inner struggle to solve the needs of the world, eschewing personal comfort for the good of others.

Iain was influenced by a visit to Wurzburg, which was rebuilt after devastating bombing at the end of World War II, and his paintings draw inspiration from the art of the city.

The images encourage us to seek forgiveness, inner peace and the world integrity for which Christ gave his life. We are invited to stop a while, to use each picture to focus on the needs of others and ourselves, to contemplate and to pray.

This exhibition in Lichfield Cathedral is accompanied by a thought-provoking programme of six lunch-time Lenten lectures in the Nave, exploring the meaning of Lent and preparing for Holy Week.

Last week [Thursday 6 March], the Rev’d Iain McKillop spoke on ‘Personhood.’ This week [Thursday 13 March], Canon Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, is speaking on ‘Ethnicity and Nation State.’

For more details about ‘Words of Forgiveness and Hope,’ which continues until 27 April, visit Lichfield Cathedral’s website or contact Jo Hoffman, Communications and Marketing Officer, Chapter Office, 19A The Close, Lichfield Cathedral, Lichfield, WS13 7LD. The Revd Iain McKillop’s work can be seen on his website.

Tomorrow: ‘http://www.patrickcomerford.com/2014/03/art-for-lent-7-seven-last-words-from.html’ by Iain McKillop.

The three spires of Lichfield Cathedral in early Spring sunshine (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

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