Saint Emygdius – The Saint of Rock and Roll

Saint Emygdius

St Emygdius

Continuing with the modern emoji saints, here we have St Emygdius. Born in Treves, Germany, he converted to Christianity and made his way to Rome. On route he performed a number of miracles and cured the sick, as a result the pope made him a bishop and packed him off to Ascoli Piceno.

When Emygdius arrived the governor, Polymius, offered his daughter’s hand in marriage and tried to get him to worship Jupiter. Instead Emygdius converted her to Christianity, incurring the governor’s anger, who then had him beheaded. St Emygdius simply picked up his head and walked off into the hills, where his followers built an oratory.

When, in 1703, Ascoli Piceno was spared destruction during an earthquake, people put it down to the hand of Saint Emygdius. He has ever since been invoked against the effects of earthquakes and is always shown holding up a  crumbling building while dressed in his episcopal robes.

Other saints in this series – St David, St George, St Andrew, St Patrick , St Michael and St Francis

Archangel St Michael

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This forms part of the modern emoji saints series. The idea that if Byzantine or Early Renaissance painters were working now, how would they have portrayed religious topics. As emojis, obviously.

St Michael

So, if you’re looking for an angel to take your battles to the enemy, Saint Michael is your guy. He is often pictured as a warrior angel, fighting the foes of heaven. In Revelations he takes on Satan and wins, there are also paintings of him defeating serpents and dragons.

Attributes of the saint

St Michael is fully equipped for the task and is shown wearing armour, carrying a sword and spear with his banner attached. He also is depicted holding the scales of justice, where the lives of sinners are in the balance. Tradition has it that the colours associated with him are Royal purple and cobalt blue, this accounts for his colourful attire.

The archangel is a popular figure as patron saint, he is the protector of Jewish people and guardian of the Catholic church. The people of France, Germany, the Ukraine, Brussels, Kiev and Dumfries. Enforcers also look to St Michael, so police officers, the military, paratroopers, firefighters and paramedics call upon him. Strangely enough, so do grocers and the sick.

Other saints in the series – St David, St George, St Andrew, St Patrick, St Francis

 

 

The Saintly Chemical Brothers

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St Cosmas & St Damian

The two brothers, Cosmas and Damian came from Arabia. They were Christian physicians who freely administered care and relief to the sick of the area until their martyrdom in Syria, in 287 AD.

When arrested and tortured they proved pretty indestructible, surviving hanging, crucifixion, stoning and being shot at with arrows. Still they refused to recant their beliefs, so the Prefect of Cilicia ordered the pair beheaded.

The brothers are most often depicted together  surrounded by medical paraphernalia. Due to their healing skills they have been adopted by physicians, doctors, surgeons, dentist and veterinarians as their patron saints. St Cosmas is usually associated with physicians and is depicted holding a pestle and mortal, while St Damian is normally shown holding some form of remedy.

Other saints in this series – St David, St George, St Andrew, St Patrick, St Michael and St Francis

San Francesco Preaching to the Birds

neal-winfield-st-francescoFollowing on from the Saints of the British Isles series, next we have San Francesco, one of Italy’s favourite saints.

Sites of St Francis

The churches, monasteries and hermitages of Saint Francis are popular places for both locals and foreign travellers to visit and down the centuries his stories have provided artists with inspiration.

Giotto’s paintings

On the subject of inspiration, this latest watercolour takes Giotto’s paintings and combines his preaching to the birds with the background of  the painting of St Francis receiving the stigmata.

The hills represent the landscape at La Verna in Tuscany and amongst the various birds he preaches at are two Twitter logos. The tree is also a representation of Giotto’s oak tree, with a golden background.

Like the other saintly paintings, St Francis can be bought as a postcard, poster or on a lovely coffee mug.

 

 

The Saints of the British Isles

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St David

I thought the four great saints of the British and Irish isles would be a great set to paint. Each has their own idiosyncrasies, their colours, attributes and associations, all are colourful characters.

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Saint David, a peaceful preacher who is pictured in full regalia, with his crozier and a dove. Being Welsh, it wouldn’t be right not to include a daffodil and a dragon. The colours reflect the red, green and white (hence the clouds) of the Welsh flag too.

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St George

Saint George

George has been adopted by many countries, along with the English, Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro are all patrons of the armour wearing, spear wielding, dragon killing saint. He has also been adopted by the scouting movement, the military and syphilis sufferers.

Saint Andrew

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St Andrew

Andrew the Apostle is another favoured saint and as well as the Scots, the people of Georgia, Malta, Cyprus, Romania and Spain are also great followers of the man. Scotland’s interest stems from the belief that relics were brought from Constantinople to St Andrews in Scotland. He was crucified on a Saltire cross and this accounts for the white cross on a blue field that makes up the Scottish flag.

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St Patrick

Saint Patrick

Ireland’s Romano British missionary who is feted as the founder of Christianity in Ireland. He famously used the shamrock as a tool for teaching the holy trinity and is credited with driving all the snakes out of Ireland. It is also said that his old walking stick when thrust into the ground and left, grew into a tree.

Gifts

The four can be bought as mugs or postcards, which would make excellent gifts for anyone interested in the saints of the British and Irish isles.

Other saints in this series include – St Francis, St Michael, St Emygdius, St Cosmas & St Damian

Religious Depiction

Religious leaders have always been great communicators when it comes to spreading their message. Through the aid of books, tomes and pictorial illustrations they have brought the word to the faithful.

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Painting the saints

The images are always particular of their time. So in the 1100s scribes painted medieval knights and in the Renaissance the protagonists are shown wearing 16th century fashion neither of which would have happened 2,000 years ago. So I decided we needed a new style of image for communicating religious ideas in the 21st century.

I am currently working on a series exploring the depiction of saints in a modern way. Today we live our lives on the internet, iPhone and tablet so I think we need religious images that reflect our modern age.

Religious emoji

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IKEA figure

The newest of languages is the visual emoji, emoticon language, where feelings, states of mind and responses are all quickly communicated via the international language of cartoon characters.

IMG_20180813_0001Since their inception in 1982, emoticons have been the chosen form of communication for the new age. From the simple full-colon with a bracket  🙂 smiley face we have seen a whole drama of emotions created. With the addition of avatars, emojis and memes, conversation and messages have taken on a whole new direction.

Contemporary style

IMG_20180815_0001This series takes modern iconic symbols and combines them with current technologies and an older style of portrayal to produce a contemporary image, with a historical connection.

As in the thirteenth century rooms series, the initial point of reference was the IKEA catalogue. The figures are based around the character found on the much ridiculed instruction leaflets that come IMG_20180814_0001with any flat-pack and has been altered slightly to suit the saint.

Modern saintly images

Who these days uses an iron cauldron or fires a crossbow? Very few I’d imagine. Therefore the addition of things like wicker baskets, casters or wooden dowels put the saints in a modern context to which people can relate.

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IMG_20180815_0002The paintings look modern but are also easily recognisable as religious iconography, even through their simplicity. Bright and colourful with the usual, slightly obtuse viewpoint they are fun but relevant comments on religion in today’s society.

 

Who is your saint of choice?

 

Big Up Assisi

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Assisi – watercolour and ink 960 cm x 600 cm (sold)

Well here you have it, the Assisi painting. Purely because of its size this commissions was great fun to work on. Measuring 960 cm x 600 cm meant I had lots of space to play with so I was able to include lots of detail.

Assisi’s landmarks

There are the usual suspects, the basilicas of St Francis, Clare and Ruffino, the old clock tower and the ruined fortrezza on top of the hill. However, if you looks carefully around Assisi, there are also iconic domestic buildings that stand out. These are the places that give the city its character.

Olives and wine

The olive tree in the foreground is in the centre of a traffic roundabout as you arrive at the town. Towering above it is the bastion of Saint Francesco’s churches, you will also drive through miles of vineyards and olive groves on your way to town. These are illustrated in the bottom corners.

The scale of the painting allows you to get lost exploring the little alleyways, spotting details and identifying the landmarks. Everyone has their favourite spot and it’s fun to see where each person’s journey takes them. Enjoy your own trip around Assisi. 🙂