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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

3 Mothers

Commissioned in 2007 by the Bishop of London commissioned Revd Regan O’Callaghan depicts three smiling women from the congregation of St John on Bethnal Green Church, seated around a table. The triptych was a commission on the theme of hospitality and 3 Mothers was blessed by the Bishop and installed in the reception of Diocesan House, London where they resided for a few years. After this they have been on the move and have been installed in different places which so far has included the Jewish Museum London, St James’s Piccadilly, St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne and Lambeth Palace. They are 35 cm x 40 cm each, painted in egg tempera, gold leaf on gesso with a dark wooden frame. 

The women reflect the diverse nature of the congregation at St John’s as well as the local East End community. Each woman is a wife, mother, and grandmother, a person of faith and a committed hard working member of their church, something the artist wanted to celebrate. The three women also symbolise in part the important role of women – particularly older women – in the Church of England. The opened hand of Mother Pearl is held out to greet the viewer to the table, a place of fellowship and hospitality while Mother Becky and Mother Miriam look on. What offering do you the viewer bring to the table? The stars on the table cloth symbolise the many descendants of Abraham. The colours the three women wear represent the Christian liturgical seasons and the gold leaf a belief in the ‘sainthood of all believers and divine light.’ 

The triptych is understood as a contemporary religious icon which functions to instruct the faithful, theologically, spiritually and liturgically. An icon is believed a portal into the heavenly realm where the eternal light of God permeates all things and where no shadow is cast. The 3 Mothers thus represent the divine spark within all of us.


John Tavener - Ikon Of Light.

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