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Storm over the lake

Storm over the lake
Eularia Clarke (1914-1970)



Methodist Collection of Modern Christian Art, No.7

Commentary by Francis Hoyland

But what did Eularia Clarke see or experience here? It was clearly pretty horrific and if she hadn't told us we would probably think of war or some terrible personal tragedy - but it was only teaching. That only would sound pretty hollow to most teachers because they know what teaching is like, especially with a class of rowdy boys.

Yes, I'm afraid it does ring true. This time she managed to face painting Our Lord - probably because she needed him so much, as she stresses the substantial union of his divinity and humanity by a beautifully glowing halo.

We can see how effective his power is by looking at the patch of water under his hand, the waves which are menacing and vast, elsewhere have become well behaved ripples and they reflect an upside down dove which again symbolises the Spirit moving on the face of the waters so the unity of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity.

The breaking waves slant at an angle of about thirty degrees from left to right down the picture and this angle is repeated by the direction of the furled sails. If we compare the treatment of space with that in the Feeding of the Five Thousand we can see a great similarity for we are above the action but not in a central position as before.

The thighs and feet of Christ share the direction of the waves; the drop of his right shoulder twists his head until it is at right angles to their general direction, but then his right arm turns until it is parallel with the waves again. It is here that the waves are quiet. Something has turned the laws of nature round!

The ship of this subject has been thought of as a symbol of the church, in which case she seems to be in a bad way. But the calm has already started to spread and eventually all will be well.

Eularia's vision was extreme, she sees our predicament as almost hopeless since quite a lot of the crew seem to be drowning - in fact some of her faces are as frightening as the most depressed heads painted by Lowry, but there in the bottom left hand corner is the visible action of Grace. The free gift which of God's friendship, we could never earn, that brings us peace. All we have to do is to accept it.

I find that when an artist tells me the truth about pain, I am more inclined to believe then that when they spake of consolation and faith - Eularia is such an artist.



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