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It has been built and rebuilt five times, and always its main purpose has been as a place of worship and prayer. For more than 1, years, a Cathedral dedicated to St Paul has stood at the highest point in the City. Behind the scenes, the cost of caring for St Paul's and continuing to deliver our central ministry and work is enormous and the generosity of our supporters is critical.
Used with permission. Each day this week we will explore a work of art. Along the way, we might recognize something of our own experience in this time of uncertainty and of fragile hope. Artists know the eloquence of contrasts, how the play of light and shade can make for great beauty, or for expression beyond words.
Attending to them seems appropriate for our time of many stark contrasts — between safety and imperilment, enclosure and exposure, intimacy and loneliness, hope and fear. This small painting by Rembrandt is the only nocturnal landscape painted by the great artist of light, shade and of real life. Within it, there is a young family fleeing danger, seeking refuge.
We step into the darkness with this little family. They are vulnerable, facing an unsure future as they gather together around the glow of the fire, with the tiny baby for whose sake all this is. Fellow travellers are helping out, fetching, carrying, doing what they need to do to get through this night. This darkness of nature and of their story will pass. A new light will dawn. The journey into Egypt will continue. The danger will persist, but it will be a new day and they will travel together, for the sake of what matters, taking it one day at a time.
To see this work or find out more online, go to the National Gallery of IrelandDublin. Oil on canvas; x Hanna, Jr. Fund A house in Nazareth.
A mother and her young son, barely a teenager. It is a homely scene of domesticity. But it is also something wholly other. A prophecy. The boy, young and rosy, has pricked his finger on a wreath, a crown of thorns. He stops to look at the blood. An unseen disturbance rustles the s of an open book. Look at the mother.
How much she knows. The tears sliding silently down her face. She pauses in the work of her sewing, this mother to this boy, whom she loves. She weeps without looking at what she sees — the future. In this dark space, where things are not quite ordinary, the present and eternity collide. His sparse, eloquent works were most often found in monastic settings in Spain. This one may have been made for the Carthusians, a particularly contemplative, enclosed order.
We can see in this painting a meeting of two orders of time. The Greeks had different words for them: chronos ordinary, sequential time and kairos auspicious or appointed time. In this light we see both the Naked in St paul women wound of now, and the piercing of the future that this son will undergo, known in prophetic time. The mother, sitting below a window, sees and feels the loss that will come.
The thimble she wears to protect her finger in her ordinary mending of cloth is a tiny echo of the other wounding foreshadowed here. She understands about symbolism. Once she had to offer two doves for her purification, after giving birth. They, and the flowers, are symbols of this sacrifice and more. Today has brought a new symbol. Her son, pricking his finger on a crown of thorns.
Berger was lamenting what he saw, almost thirty years ago, as our increasing preference for the private over public life. Perhaps now, when we inhabit so uncomfortably spaces both private and public, this painting might open new ways of thinking about our present moment and our shared lives. Egon Altdorf, The Prodigal Son, woodcut, Private collection. It is, however, a strikingly raw and poignant image, in light and dark, of the son who stands for us all and the father who stands for all.
It is by Egon Altdorf, a little-known German artist. He Naked in St paul women young, at the very start of his career, and coming to terms with the aftermath of an era of vast brutality and devastation when he made it, in Artists over the years have imagined in infinite ways the compelling parable of the son who squandered his inheritance and who, returning, met with unforeseen, unconditional love Luke Altdorf does something remarkable with the image.
In his vision of this reunion, the roughly hewn bodies of this father and son are naked. Stripped of all detail, of the trappings of status, wealth, poverty or anything else in this world, the bare bodies speak of total vulnerability on both parts.
There is anguish on both sides. The embrace is raw, and total. The son collapses into it, grasping at the tree for support, his other arm thrust out behind him, holding a last remnant of a former falsity. Altdorf includes a striking detail. His errant prodigal holds a dark, contorted mask, torn from his face, held away from his exposed body. The Ascension is momentous. Its traditions in the history of art, however, are sometimes less so. She collected various everyday objects and put them in an ordinary garden shed.
She then enlisted the help of the British Army to carry out a controlled explosion of the shed and its contents. The charred remains from the explosion were then raised, on fine wires in the gallery, into suspended animation. Finally, she lit the whole thing from inside with a single light bulb and so created, from the ordinary, an extraordinary play of light, shade and matter.
This matter is broken open. The violence of the explosion has made fragments of the old body. Transformed in the light, they are no longer earthbound, but every wounded shard plays its part in the light and shadow that makes this work. It is less a senseless scattering, and more a way to a lucid new knowledge of something never seen in such a way before. The exploded view brings new understanding. I think about how the apostles must have struggled, really struggled, to grasp with their rational minds what the ascension meant, what the resurrection meant, what it meant that Jesus of Nazareth is also one with God in all eternity.
It must have exploded the nuts-and-bolts workings of their minds. Much of what is homely and familiar to us has broken open recently. Cold Dark Matter might challenge us too, to think beyond and through entrenched images.
What could be more prosaic than a garden shed? A place for tools, implements, the means to make repairs, or to till the garden. A place some people go for solace, inspiration. Unsullied glory is not of this world. But in changing light and dark, contrasts, the messiness of it all, we might see God undoing and re-doing creation, all the time. Perhaps, looking at this work and thinking about ascension, we can gain an exploded view of what it might mean for us beyond our habitual ways of seeing — feet, clouds or anything else.Naked in St paul women
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Bowel Screening (Men and Women)