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Genuinely beautiful and intriguing Review by Rev Jonathan Evens
Beckett has responded to Tricker's most recent cycle of works, entitled 'The Christ Journey''... with devotional meditations deriving from each piece in the series, rather than with critical commentary. Her reflections, clearly prompted and led by Tricker's images themselves, open and illumiate the stories from the Gospels and the lives of the Saints which form the content of 'The Christ Journey'...
[Beckett] is an enthusiast who applies the instruction in Philippians 4:8, to fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise, to her writing and presenting. On screen, this can appear overly gushing but, in print, she is more measured, evidenced, and convincing. Her meditations here bear the marks of having emerged from both poring and praying over the images.
The combined insights and perceptions of Tricker and Beckett result in a book that is genuinely beautiful and intriguing, profound and moving. This is never more so than with the wonderfully complex "'I am' the True Vine" in which, through a Chagallian construction, a Redon-like Christ holds together Passover and Last Supper imagery enabling Beckett to reflect on the new fulfilment in Christ of the Old Covenant. Beckett ends her reflection with these words, which sum up the book as a whole, 'There is deep prayer... deep longing, deep sadness, but also deep fulfilment.'
Rev Jonathan Evens. Published in 'Art and Christianity' magazine Summer 2012. (Posted on 17/05/2012)
Thank you so much for a beautiful book Review by Sr Janet Fearns
Someone was looking at me, perhaps trying to attract my attention. Looking away from the altar of Westminster Cathedral towards wherever it was that the person’s gaze seemed to be coming, I gasped with surprise and pleasure. Until that moment I had known nothing of Greg Tricker or that he had an exhibition in the cathedral. However, there, in my direct line of sight, was an exquisitely carved head of a woman, resting her cheek on her right hand. Her eyes appeared to follow me whichever way I turned. She was so beautiful! She was also my main reason for touring Tricker’s display once Mass had finished. What a joy! Stained glass windows adorned the cathedral pillars, illuminated from behind to show their colours to their best advantage even in the darkest corners. A wonderful carving of Jesus calming the storm captured my attention for several minutes and, as I marvelled at the different faces and the expressiveness of Jesus and his Disciples, I was not the only person held as a willing prisoner in the chapel.
Then there were the paintings, many painted on old doors! Beautiful images of Jesus’ life and of people intimately involved in his journey on earth really did adorn old doors, some of them rather battered before their transformation – but was that not a parable in itself? The large, calm eyes and childlike simplicity of several of Tricker’s images held something of that same indefinable quality of Picasso’s Child with a dove. Yet there was an ‘added extra’: they were meant to lead the pilgrim observer along a spiritual journey.
...and then there was the beautiful sculpture which had attracted my attention in the first place...
Several days later, I took home my review copy of The Christ Journey: Sister Wendy reflects on the Art of Greg Tricker. Before I had a chance to look at the book, I found it balanced on a chair in our little convent chapel. A Sister grinned sheepishly. “You were not here at the weekend so I borrowed the book and have been praying with it”, she explained. What could I say? Was this not the whole point behind both, Greg Tricker’s art and Sr Wendy’s writing about it? Was it not a review in itself that someone had been inspired to take The Christ Journey into the chapel and use it to lead her along her own path towards Jesus?
Of course any book with Sr Wendy’s name attached as its author is a compelling recommendation. To misquote an old advert, such a book is bound to ‘look good, feel good and do you good’! The Christ Journey is no exception. Even its cover is enticing, showing, as it does, one of Tricker’s stained glass images of Jesus in which his clothes and the background are somewhat muted in colour. However Jesus’ face and his right hand glow, standing out from the rest of the work. His large eyes and outstretched hand offer a message of welcome even before progressing to the first page. Is it any wonder, therefore, that the display of The Christ Journey in the shop front of the St Paul’s bookshop alongside Westminster Cathedral is a statement in itself?
The Christ Journey is exquisitely presented, complete with more than sixty images in full colour. Sadly, the one that is absent is the sculpture which attracted me at the exhibition, where I forgot to look at its title. Ah well, that is my loss and probably my own fault!
Sr Wendy takes her reader on a gentle path as she follows the footsteps of Jesus, devoting one or two pages to each image, created to highlight a particular aspect of the Gospel story. Just as Tricker presents his characters as childlike, open and uncomplicated, so Sr Wendy’s language is also direct and accessible to the reader, with very few long words even when expressing the profound significance of events and individuals so crucial to our history. With sensitivity, she highlights small details which might have escaped the notice of the observer. She points out, for instance, Tricker’s concern to show Mary and Joseph with sandaled, hot feet as they trudged the burning desert sand on their return to Nazareth from Egypt. The Child Jesus, however, riding on the donkey, has no need of footwear.
Each of the thirty-four chapters of The Christ Journey is a mixture in which Sr Wendy reflects on different aspects of Jesus’ life on earth, using Tricker’s art as a springboard for her musing. She manages to combine Scripture, theology, personal contemplation and artistic description as a seamless whole so that the book can appeal to both the believer and the non-believer. She has missed out nothing and yet The Christ Journey could easily be used by a non-Christian without feeling that it is an attempt to convert him or her to Christianity. There is a saying that’ a good picture is worth a thousand words’. This is something that Sr Wendy appears to have taken to heart, so that he words complement the picture rather than supplement them – and what need is there to say much before, for example, the smiling and peaceful tenderness of Mary Magdalene as she pours perfume over the head of Jesus, anointing him for his burial?
One of the beauties of this book is that as soon as one image or part of an image is selected as a favourite, something else demands attention. Having decided that I really like the sleeping Jesus in the Nativity scene, I subsequently had to admit that the wide-awake and smiling stained glass portrayal of Maria and Child is just as lovely, but in a different way. There is the little detail in which Jesus rests his hand on his mother’s shoulder... Then there is the interesting similarity between the face of Jesus on the front cover of The Christ Journey and of St Francis of Assisi, who strove to imitate him.
The Christ Journey is a book for personal reflection, but it could just as easily be used by a group of people. It could be a valuable resource for a teacher who might use the imagery for an RE lesson or for one on Art Appreciation for any age from Primary to Tertiary level: all that would differ would be the insights from the students.
The Christ Journey is a spiritually satisfying voyage in the company of an artist and one who appreciates art. Perhaps it highlights the link between profundity and simplicity: something can be profound without needing to be obscure and potentially indigestible. It is a journey well worth the following! (Posted on 30/01/2012)
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