Hope, Creativity and The Cross

May 09 2016

“The Cross is the eternal expression of the length to which God will go to in order to restore broken community.” 

― Martin Luther King, Jr.
Recently, as you may know I have been making decorated Christian Crosses using the words from the Bible to help me create designs. I was inspired by the Bible, the British landscape and its animals. But it occurred to me that although my designs might be new, the tradition of decorating a cross goes way back.

Ancient Knot-work, Interlace and Figurative Relief Carving!

In early Medieval times the Celtic people carved out stone crosses with relief designs which were usually set into the landscape. These designs incorporated a beautiful mixture of religious figures as well knot-work and interlaced patterns, which I  loved to draw as a teenager. The crosses were also probably painted bright colours and were known as a 'High Cross' or Standing Cross', more commonly found in Ireland and Wales.

Rich Materials and Outstanding Craftsmanship!

On looking further in to the subject of decorated crosses, I began to find lots of fascinating examples. This one (below) measures just  37.4 × 25.6 cm and was made at the workshop of Godefroid of Huy, a goldsmith in 1160-60. The craftsmanship is just amazing and so detailed!

The reliquary crosses I found from the British Museum collection look absolutely breathtaking in both detail and beauty! Reliquary means a container of relics such as bones, pieces clothing or some object related to saints or religious figures. This cross is made from wonderfully rich materials including copper alloy, enamel , rock crystal on silver backing, lapis lazuli, garnet and amethyst!  Apart from these diverse materials I think what is so great is how it shows five Old Testament scenes.

The shape of the cross obviously symbolises Christ on the cross, but crosses often tell other stories too. The times in which these crosses were made, the background of the people who made them or commissioned them, and the materials can tell their own stories too.
Reliquary Cross from the Mosan Culture, Belgium, 1160-1170

The Tree of Life Sprouts in the Midst of Destruction!

This brings us forward in time to a different story about crosses which were born out of great tragedy. 

El Salvador is known for its really powerful earth quakes off the coast of the country. On November 27th, 2015 an earth quake of  5.4  on the Richter Scale struck and  threatened to cause a tsunami to strike the coast. This had already happened once earlier in the year during May.

Many times the earth trembles and streets are left in ruins and buildings are destroyed. The country and its  people's lives need to be constantly re-built. But despite the loss of life and homes they stay hopeful.

From the ruins families search for materials which they use to build their next home and with the smaller pieces of wood they make crosses! These crosses are painted with bright colours, showing plants, animals and people. 

The Salvadorenhas people say, " We believe in life; it is stronger than death. We will rise again and again!". 

Wow, what spirit and grit!

“Let the ruins come to life In the beauty of Your name Rising up from the ashes God forever You reign” ― Hillsong

So, the cross is clearly a great symbol of hope today, around the world. When people need to process the events of life, creativity and faith have provided the means to process and heal life itself. 

The crosses I make are for both happy times and when friends need reassurance. Some crosses were made for weddings, and one was made as a gift for a ladies husband who is ill. Others are used to pray with or simply as an expression of faith. But regardless of whether a person is religious or not the presence of this symbol can be a candle that lights up darker times or celebrates the happy ones. 

To see more of my crosses please visit my Etsy Shop!
Home Cross

Does One Size Fit All?

April 09 2016
The Alfred East Art Gallery, Kettering

One Size Fits All!

The Northampton Town and County Spring Art Exhibition at the Alfred East Art Gallery, featured the usual high standard exhibits this year in the Long Gallery. Every artwork from each artist was presented in the same sized frames hence the name 'One Size Fits All'.

One Size Fits All Exhibition in the Alfred East Art Gallery

Clusters of Distilled Talent

The paintings, prints and relief artworks were presented in clusters of  refined, and distilled images from the members of the Northampton Art Society. This show was a new idea and challenge as the artists were asked to create a piece to fit a pre-purchased frame (A4 sized). This gave everyone the chance to display work in a relatively small space. 

John Clare Text Art!

This show gave me the chance to get cracking with my new project to create a series of paintings based on the poems of John Clare. I spent the week preparing the words of the poem and researching the colours and spent most of Friday night painting this artwork showing a red squirrel in an English Landscape. I was really pleased to find on my visit,  that my little painting was one of the one's sold! Hooray!

Enchanted Woodlands and Landscapes

Landscapes were a strong feature in the exhibition showing inspiring and imaginative colours, textures and techniques. I decided to choose a few of my favourites to show you here. (Below)

Landscapes are a great subject for artists. The immense spaces, undiscovered corners, peaceful paths,  shaded woodlands full of flowers all give the opportunity to represent the details of real places or scenes straight from the imagination!

The first painting I chose, by Elaine Warden reminds me of the mysterious, ancient vistas painted by Barabara Rae, one of my all time favourite artists. It shows deep layered colour and atmosphere whilst providing texture that suggests a place hiding forgotten history. Something Northamptonshire has in abundance.

'Seeds in the Snow' by Willie Martina Gardener, shows the silence of a winter landscape with the flurry of activity from wildlife like a bird. This is the kind of detail and character I am hoping to incorporate in my John Clare series. The simple style and clean shapes Gardener uses are perfect for the collage technique I use with poems.

 The 'Enchanted Woodland'  by Rae Flack has the  bold, contrasting colours and impressionist light you get in a forest in springtime. But I really like the texture and marks made with acrylic paint that reminds me of the sound of snapping twigs and crunching leaves when in a place like Salcey Forest.

Open Exhibition 2016

The current exhibition at the Alfred East Art Gallery is the annual open show, which also has a youth category. This show runs from 9th April to 14th May. I have one of my landscape paintings on display amongst a host of other great paintings and exhibits. 

Go down and have a look! Please let me know which paintings you enjoy by leaving a comment here or posting on my facebook page - Jamie Poole Artist.


Newsletter Subscription

Sign up for my newsletter and get a printable greetings card!