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Saturday, 26 December 2015

Exhibition: Foundations of the City

An exhibition of paintings at St Stephen WalbrookFoundations of the City (8 February – 4 March 2016) by Alan Everett

Three paintings in this exhibition are entitled Rood, reflecting their genesis in the Anglo-Saxon poem, The Dream of the Rood. This poem of great imaginative intensity was written when much of England was in deep forest. The Cross appears to the narrator in a dream vision, telling how as a tree it was cut down to share in the Passion of Christ. The paintings show successive stages of the Crucifixion, as if the tree itself is being crucified (Rood I, III and IV).

Three cross paintings address further aspects of the Crucifixion. Unclean Cross alludes to the pollution of blood; Salvage to the recovery of the Cross from cultural obliteration. Cosmic Cross embraces the energy of creation, also expressed in In Motion.

Three paintings elaborate the unpredictable nature of preservation, with reference to the written word: Text, Code and Fragment.

Another group of three paintings represent – in style and content – processes of layering, with both architectural and literary associations. Bricolage, Palimpsest and Retro resonate with a church such as St Stephen Walbrook, constructed as it is above a Roman city.

The harmonious neo-classical design of St Stephen is of course a selective reading of antiquity. Alcestis and Bacchae offer an alternative perspective, in response to plays by the ever-subversive Euripides.

Finally, two paintings approach the difficult subject of martyrdom – viewed by early Christians as an offering at the very foundations of the City of God. 10.00pm 2 December 1980 El Salvador refers to the rape and murder of a Catholic lay-worker and three nuns on that date; 12-15 February 2015 Libya to the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians.


The Dream of the Rood.

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