The Ascension Painting for Settle Church

This work ‘The Ascension’ is, as suggested by its title, the transfiguration of the spiritual from the material and physical worlds. In my work there is always considerable significance in the materials used and in the making of this painting material was gathered from the environment. The flotsam and jetsam were given a rebirth by their inclusion in the surface of the painting.

The raw surface of the canvas was marked with the imprints of the ancient holy sites, quotations and religious inscriptions. The words of the Sufi poet Rumi and the Welsh poet R.S.Thomas are also present.

The four elements earth, wind, fire and water are represented. Earth is present in the mud and dust blowing on the wind, ever present on the Welsh farm where the painting was worked. Fire produced burnt grain and the water was collected from the ancient well of St. Seriol at Penmon Priory. The water was used to make a leaven bread paste. The materials were suspended and strengthened with a polymer binder before being worked onto the canvas. In many ways the painting evolved as would an archeological dig in which found materials become reborn through the journey of the painting.

The painting stretches both backward, forward and in the instant of time. Grain collected from the remains of a Roman camp is within the surface and I have also used some of the clothes I wore while painting on the canvas. Gifts were given by the church, including an ancient front door key and Stuart’s prayer shawl, which have found their place in the work.  Sermons given at Bangor Cathedral for the Ascension Day are also included. The work has been standing in the church for almost twelve months and the congregation have all been invited to contribute their marks onto the back of the painting.

The painting was filled with joy in the construction and is infused with celebration of life.

Mick Brown    
October 2001