Money, money, money!

Happy New Year everyone!   New year’s resolution: must remember to make one.  Actually, think I will just soldier on with last year’s.  But I love new year, new starts, new plans and projects…..

So here’s my new blog theme for New Year: money.  Yes, good old chink-chink.  The Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil, though personally I think it is pride.  Still, maybe the love of money and pride are linked in some way.  Money can certainly bring power, and a sense or security, often false.  Both can make you feel you don’t really need God.

A few years ago, I had an exhibition in a gallery in London’s West End, and did seven quilts on the theme of money for it.  I seem to work in series of sevens.  The names of these quilt wall hangings were: “Bankers’ Bonuses”, “Treasure Trove”, “The Money Laundry”, “Diamonds are Forever, “Liquid Assets”, “The Golden Goose”, and “Rags to Riches”.

After I had done them all and was stewarding my show, sitting there for hours looking at them all together, it dawned on me that they represented the different aspects of getting, making and handling money.  The greed behind the group culture of bonuses.  Relying on luck.  Shady dealing, crime.  Marrying a rich person, or inheriting wealth.  Having lots of available cash, flashing the readies.  Finding a great business idea  or asset that makes you loads of money.  And making your money from scratch by sheer hard work.

There is nothing actually wrong with money itself, it is useful.  It’s only one’s attitude and use of it that can be a problem.

The above picture of my quilt “Bankers’ Bonuses”  shows lots of wads of cash, gold bars, silver coins etc., all stacked up in piles and wads. Loadsa money, all stacked up!  Very nice, yes please…..But the bars around it make one think it is in a vault, locked up, stored, somehow not available for use; the object being just to know it is there, to dream about, hoard……

If you zoom in, you can see individual fabric strips of printed money, coins, notes, gold bars, etc., together with strips of pin-stripe, suggesting the shirts bankers wear.

This quilt was bought to go on the wall of an autistic boy,  I think because he would like the bright colours and cheerful design.  A more cheerful, innocent  image of money.

Christmas!

This quilt is called “Hope”, which I made a few years ago, and have used as my Christmas card this year.  The pale stipe in the middle is hope shining through the darker colours (more obvious on the real quilt than in this photo).  Lots of upwards and downwards diagonals, also, which is how life seems to me, very up and down.  We need hope amidst all the bad news we keep hearing around the world.  That slim strip of hope somewhere in the middle, or a tiny miraculous baby in the  midst of the gloomy political world scene of that First Century Christmas.

Babies look recognisably like their fathers in the first few days and weeks of their life.  Probably a useful biological fact to help fathers know the baby is theirs and therefore bond with it.  After the first few weeks they look like their mothers, or some other relative, or just themselves, but those first few days they are the spitting image of their dads.  In Jesus’ case, of course, of his heavenly father..  N0 wonder shepherds and wise men, prophtesses and priests in the Temple when he was presented there, and even Joseph and Mary themselves, had no trouble recognising Jesus as the amazing, holy, miraculous, kingly, divine baby that he was, as well as fragile and vulnerable as babies are.  Lots of nativity pictures and cards show Joseph and Mary gazing at their baby in astonishment as well as adoration.  What a Christmas present that was! Not just for them, but for all of us.  Better get going on my “thank-you” letter!

Well, I have finished my “Rev Sev” series, so in the new year I will be starting on a whole new series of quilts, completely different, for my  blog.

In the meantime, I leave you with a verse from a famous Christmas carol, to cheer you up amid the strikes, crowds, and preparations of Christmas time. (See, we don’t only get alleluyas at Easter):-

“Glorious now behold Him arise,  King and God and sacrifice.  Alleluya, alleluya, sounds through the earth and skies.”

The Tree of Life

The “Tree of Life” is the final quilt in my series of the seven gifts God gives to the faithful in the Book of Revelation.  Jesus says:”To him that overcomes, I will give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of Paradise.” (Rev 2:7).

The tree of life design appears in all cultures and ages; you will find it in Asian and Indian art, Persian carpets, in ancient Egyptian tombs, etc.  It symbolises life, fertility, immortality (in that the seed has to die in the ground for the tree to grow).  Its branches look like the arteries and veins in the human body, the life blood.  The pattern is also the same as the delta of a big river, so the river of life and the tree of life are closely related, the one needs the other.  In ancient Egypt, the date palm design symbolised royal power.

In Christianity, the tree of life appears in the Bible in the books of Genesis and Revelation.  In Genesis 2:9, it says: “The Tree of Life was in the midst of the garden (of Eden), and also the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”  After the Fall, when Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit off the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which they were not ready for yet, they had to be turned out of the Garden of Eden, in case they ate from the Tree of Life too, and became immortal.  An angel was placed with a flaming sword to guard the way to the Tree of Life (Gen 3:24).

Well, the whole history of mankind and redemption later, we find the Tree of Life again in the Book of Revelation, beside the River of Life: “with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves are for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22:2).

It is comforting to know that the faithful won’t be forbidden to eat its fruit for ever.  It is one of the gifts given to those who overcome and persevere to the end. Also very comforting to know that its leaves will heal the nations, instead of them fighting and hating each other….  The whole situation of the Garden of Eden has been restored, and mankind back in its rightful place, but all on a bigger, more worldwide scale than in the beginning.

I feel a huge sense of relief and thanksgiving when I read this passage.  Everything is going to be all right, in the end, after all.

In my quilt of the tree of life, I have used twelve different coloured silks, for the twelve different kinds of fruit.  I wanted the design to be simple but striking, and also lively,  appealing and colourful, drawing you to it across the room.  I wanted it to have the joyfulness of running out into our garden through an orchard, with a deep blue sky and a rising-up sun, like I  used to do as a child.

Well, that is the last of my “Rev Sev” quilts, and here is a photo of them all together, as shown at Holy Trinity, Sloane Square at my solo exhibition there.

7 gifts or revelation

The Open Door into Heaven

The next artwork in my Seven Gifts in the Book of Revelation series is the open door into heaven.  Jesus says: “Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no man can shut.” (Rev 3:8).    Further on it says: “I looked, and behold, a door was opened into heaven.”(Rev 4:1).

There is something very intriguing about a door: if shut, what is beind it?  If half open, tantalising glimpses into another world can be seen…..  there is endless fascination in literature and art about doors.  The door to the Secret Garden, the wardrobe door  leading to the imaginary country of Narnia….   Cathedral doors, portals, grand entrances, are wonderfully decorated all over the world.  A door opening and giving a glimpse of heaven, how amazing!  John in the Book of Revelation is giving us some of his visionary glimpses through that door.

In my quilt on this title, I have tried to give the shimering effect of a door into heaven.  I try and have something of a “door into the next world” in most of my art.

In real life, how frustrating it is to feel doors shut against you.  You start really excited about a new project, only to have doors constantly shut on you.  Job rejection, failed test, unanswered emails, refusals to invest, turned down for a grant, not selected for an exhibition, don’t make it onto a short list, etc.  How wonderful therefore that God opens a door for us that no man can shut!

If we are finding it difficult sometimes to find that door opened for us, don’t forget those words in John’s Gospel, where Jesus says “I am the door.  Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”

Well, all you seekers and artists out there, I hope you find good pastures through the open door!