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Untitled - Pentecost

Untitled - Pentecost
John Brokenshire (b 1958 )


c. 2003

Methodist Collection of Modern Christian Art, No.39

The artist writes 'This painting was a long time in the making. Its final form came together as a synthesis of various key concerns I had been living with and pondering.

First it came from a period of interest in shadow and light as pictorial elements and the desire to create paintings from their interaction.

Meanwhile the white floating image was thanks to drawings I had been making in the museum from stuffed birds. Over time I began to visit snowy owls and wrens in my imagination and they became emblems of purity and grace.

I was keen to get a very loosely represented image of a bird in space into my painting. But I wanted a sense of a bird hovering, not on a trajectory.

At the same time I hoped to refer in some way to angels: even if very obliquely by colour alone or by suggestion. Darkness had to be the counterpoint to this.

I had been looking at the depth of shade found in Rembrandts and Carravagios. In such paintings there can be enormous stillness and drama can co-exist. I had been pondering how to convey a sense of a powerful, compelling moment that can be so vivid within figurative art.

When the painting came together it felt as if these elements had meshed.

For many years my painting had been an effort to create my own vocabulary and to honour the natural world.

A longstanding hope has been to convey a sense of the mystery within nature. But recently I have felt a shift and a longing to refer more openly to the inner world.

I would define inner space not as a space of sanctuary, but of involvement, journey, even encounter. There is more of a sense of urgency or pressure to deal with new material, related to transformation and the awareness of spiritual help and guidance.

The title Pentecost was not suggested by me, but was the highest interpretation I could hope for from any viewer.

I have long believed in God: I was first drawn to the spiritual in nature and in the practice of meditation and in my reading. I have been fortunate to take part in healing circles and then have strongly felt a sense of a wonderful benign force.

I would search to reencounter this presence, and would even hope to find it in the process of painting.

Gently and gradually I made my way back to the church. I was concerned about the spiritual needs of my young children. Now I wish it had been much sooner!

As it happens, I have always aspired to paint some 'religious' work. Way back in the eighties before my work became more abstract I tried a Palm Sunday piece and still hanker to paint the Samarian woman at the well. I find representations of Christ very affecting, and would hope one day to include some indication in my work of what now seems so central and pivotal'.


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