It had been a long time since I have created any artwork of this size so I prayed as I worked that God would lead and inspire me during each stage of making this piece. I wanted prayer to be woven into its fabric and asked God to bless each person who looked at it once it was installed in the cafe.
It was important to me that all the materials used in this work were sourced from Bishop Street Methodist Church. Inspired by the Triptych format often used in religious devotional paintings and altar pieces it comprises of three hessian covered wooden panels which were once church notice boards. Attached to each panel is a circuit board taken out of the Bishop Street organ during its restoration in 2016-17. The detail and complexity of these circuit boards is fascinating with handwritten tags and labels attached to each wire to note the organ stop it was connected to. The hymn numbers and word cards were once used here in the Bishop Street Hymn Board and the fabric was found in the choir vestry. By recycling these unused objects to create this piece I was able to give them a new life whilst connecting and grounding the artwork in the history of this church.
The title, ‘VENITE’ means ‘Come Ye’ and is the opening words of the 95th psalm that the ‘Venite’ canticle once part of morning prayer here was based on. “O COME, let us sing unto the LORD; * let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; * and show ourselves glad in him with psalms…….”.
Other words that feature in the work include Te Deum, an early Christian hymn of praise, and ‘Magnificat’ a canticle, also known as the Song of Mary as it is the song that Mary prayed while visiting Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist while they were both pregnant.
The piece also includes various numbers relating to hymns and a Psalm. These include …
Psalm 103 which begins … Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits— who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
and hymns including 3 classics:
214 Once in royal David’s city, stood a lowly cattle shed, where a mother laid her baby in a manger for his bed.
236 Forty days and 40 nights, you were fasting in the wild. Forty days and forty nights, tempted and yet undefiled.
486 Who would true valour see, let him come hither. (John Bunyan)
And a beautiful new hymn:
307 On the day of resurrection, to Emmaus we return; while confused, amazed, and frightened, Jesus comes to us, unknown. (Michael Peterson)
Artwork and text by Ruth Joy