Monday, October 27, 2008

Religious Tapestries: Weaving Faith with the Arts

For centuries people have searched for ways of expressing their faith through the arts and tapestry is one method of providing a vehicle for their inspiration. The passion for art, entwined with the spirituality of religion has ensured these works have retained their popularity from the middle ages to the present day.

Spirituality through the ages ">Religious tapestries have continued to appeal through time. When one acknowledges the tremendous ways in which spiritual matters test faith and affect the heart and soul, the drama and vividness of the work is realised. The beauty of a religious tapestry gives a glimpse of what life beyond that on earth might be and has delivered hope in uncertain times when belief in religion may have been tested. The Glory of Christ, designed by Graham Sutherland in Coventry Cathedral is such an example. Adorning the altar area of the rebuilt cathedral the tapestry was intended to inspire those citizens of the city who experienced some of the most destructive bombings in World War 2 and is now the focus of a Peace centre.

Visions of Faith
Tapestries with a religious or spiritual theme are available in different forms and approaches to faith. This reflects the diverse way in which spirituality is expressed by believers, and in using art a belief can be expressed powerfully without words. Many "> tapestries ;/a>have a base in Christianity, however others are more abstract, using different forms to express belief. Legend, angels, mythology and other concepts have been used to express spirituality. Tapestries representing Christian beliefs continue to be popular for those interested in using them in home décor. One example is, “Be Not Afraid”, based on a reproduction by the American artist Greg Olsen. The use of light in guiding the way and Christ reaching out to help a child demonstrates the core value of faith and the essence of Christianity itself. Similarly themed tapestries include the Crucifixion, the Trinity and the Last Supper. Religious tapestries have also been adapted from the great paintings of artists such as Michelangelo, Tom DuBois, El Greco and Fra. Angelico.

Less definitive perspectives on religion can also be tastefully incorporated into interior design. An example might be Mary Baxter St Clair’s perspective of the Messenger of Love, showing an angel offering gifts of roses to symbolise love. Delicate colouring allows spiritual beliefs to be incorporated into a modern home, blending with the décor, and at the same time imparting a powerful message through art.

Timeless connections
Tapestries with spiritual or religious themes are likely to remain popular for years to come, finding a place in the hearts and homes of many. Faith often evokes strong feelings, and the art expressed through lt;a href=" ">tapestry has the power to enable people to affirm and connect with spirituality, in ways that sometimes cannot be expressed through the spoken word. A faith based tapestry is a beautiful work of art that allows that spiritual connection to be made in a sincere yet powerful way.

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Angela Dawson-Field writes on a number of subjects, including history and tapestry & textile art. She divides her time between writing and the Tapestry House.

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