Monthly Archives: August 2018

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.


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


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┬á ­čÖé 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.


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


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. ­čÖé

Religious Painting for the 21st Century

Religious imagery has always reflected its time. Not just the painterly rules governing its style but also the environment, fashion and setting. It was during the Byzantine period that the church lay down certain regulations on how religious topics could be painted.


Modern day St John the Apostle


The church dictated how things were portrayed, what constituted suitable subject matter and even the choice of colours. There were conventions that had to be adhered to and how images were painted was heavily regulated.

Despite all of this the pictures are of the age. The clothes, the hairstyles and the equipment are most definitely from the Medieval age.

Renaissance painting

The same is true when we reach the Renaissance period. Although the rules had started to relax, there are certain things that are definitively from the 1500s. The style, landscape and buildings all indicate a particular moment in time.


Saint Xanthippa

If you look at religious paintings through the ages, this holds true. There is always an element or two that places the painting in a specific era. They will all feature Jesus, an angel, the saints and the Madonna but they also show off religions relevant to their age.

#Fake News

We are in the time of mass communication with icons, labels and brands. Social media speaks to the masses with fake prophets and the devil inside is only a #smiley face away. So how can we represent religion effectively in the 21st century?

We use hashtags all the time, our conversations are peppered with emoticons and emojis. Why not use these iconic symbols as a way of depicting the age old images of religion?┬á Make the ROFL image our repentant saint. Why can’t saint Elijah have #cave as his marker?

Sponsoring Church


Saint Catherine of Alexandria

When Simone Martini painted his beautiful drapery on his saints, do you think he made up┬áthe patterns on each fabric, or┬ádid he have a deal with a local cloth merchant? There shouldn’t be anything wrong with incorporating the merchants of our time. Such as IKEA furniture, H&M clothing or modern buildings.

Religion isn’t a static thing it changes over time and so does how it is portrayed. Today’s religious paintings should echo our own time and reflect on the concerns and styles and ways of communicating. After all isn’t that what religion is all about, communicating?