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Saturday, 21 March 2015

Stations of the Cross

Henry Shelton is a noted painter of religious art in a contemporary style. He trained as an apprentice draughtsman in a London studio developing his drawing skills in lettering and fine art. After 15 years he set up his own studio receiving many commissions from such clients as the Science Museum, borough councils, private and corporate bodies.

In recent years he has worked designing in studios across the world, including Hong Kong and the USA. Throughout this time he has painted Christian art and his commissions include an Ascension installed as an altarpiece in the Church of the Saviour, Chell Heath; the Millennium clock tower in Goodmayes, and the memorial etched-glass windows in All Saints Church, Goodmayes, depicting events in the life of Jesus. In 2007 he had a one-man exhibition in York Minister where he showed this set of Stations of the Cross. Most recently, he has completed commissions for St Luke’s Chapel in Queens Hospital Romford, a contemporary set of Stations of the Crown of Thorns for St Paul’s Goodmayes and etched windows for All Saints Hutton.

Shelton has painted four sets of Stations of the Cross, two of which have been combined with meditations by Rev Jonathan Evens. These have been published by These pictures, poems and prayers enable us to follow Jesus on his journey to the cross reflecting both on the significance and the pain of that journey as we do so. With their second sequence, ‘The Passion,’ both aimed to pare down the images and words to their emotional and theological core. The mark making and imagery is minimal but they hope in a way that makes maximum impact. Their first sequence, ‘Mark of the Cross,’ was described by Rev Steve Santry as "Stunning artwork and thought provoking words [which] open up the events around Easter in a new and imaginative way."

Shelton says of his semi-abstract style and minimal flowing lines, that, “as I’ve got older I’ve learnt that ‘less is more’ and through the development of my work I’ve learnt to express emotion in a semi-abstract form.” This is why he paints; “it all goes back to feeling; the pathos of suffering.”

The power of art to evoke emotion is what originally inspired Shelton and which has sustained his work throughout his career: “When I first saw the great Rembrandt’s in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the power of his images seemed to transcend time. The same thing attracted me to Christian Art as a choirboy at All Saints West Ham; the art spoke to me. I used to look at the altar and see images that were just so powerful. The images seemed to bring the past into the present and to form a profound link with the lineage of the past. I see myself as an artist trying in my small way to continue that lineage and my passion as a Christian artist is to keep that lineage alive in my generation as a witness.”

Shelton says of commission4mission, of which he is a founding member and which encourages churches to commission contemporary art: “I want us to be offering quality work and craftsmanship, rather than mass-produced work, to continue the legacy of the Church as a great commissioner of art. The Church has, in fact, commissioned some of the greatest works of art ever produced.”

To have his work in churches, Shelton says, “really is the fulfilment of my life’s work.” He doesn’t have much ambition to show in galleries and says that, “the whole point for me is to create reaction and engage people; for people to enjoy and be moved by my work, just as I’ve been engaged by the work of other artists.”


Neal Morse - King Jesus.

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