03 May 2017
St James’ Church in Louth is currently hosting an exhibition on the subject of the psalms. Created by Vivienne Rowett, an Old Testament scholar and former winner of the Lancelot Andrews art competition, the exhibition, which comprises 10 pieces, was first shown in Southwark Cathedral in 2012, and then later in Bradford Cathedral in 2014.
As Vivienne says, “The psalms pieces take the form of 10 pockets of the sort that were worn in earlier centuries, which were tied around the waist and could be lost, just as ‘Lucy Locket’ lost hers. I based my designs on an historical example from the 18th century, now kept in the Museum of Art in Boston in the USA. I kept the lines of the original in various ways in my designs, to indicate that the psalms have been seen by scholars such as Gunkel and Mowinckel to conform to various patterns, and first used as hymns and prayers in different life-situations within the communities that produced them. The psalms gather new meanings in the way they are collected together as literature in the Old Testament, and also in the life of each person who reads, savours and questions them; hence the pocket form indicates the way this happens over time.”
Vivienne goes on to say that, as result of her post-graduate study of the Old Testament, her teaching experience on the subject, and her qualifications in art and textiles, she wanted to combine these strands, which have always been the main subject-matter of her life’s work. The psalms covered in this particular work are 45, 65, 84, 88, 89, 104, 119, 133, 137, and also one children’s hymn of ‘Daisies are our silver’, which she regards as her ‘first psalm’.
The exhibition may be seen at St James’ Church in Louth until the end of May, although, as Vivienne says, “This, and work on other biblical subjects, is not really designed just to be hung on walls, but is meant to be a commentary on – and questioning of – its subjects, passed around and handled as a teaching aid to accompany my teaching talks, which can be quite lively. It isn’t aimed primarily at people with an interest in textiles, but for general consumption by anyone who would like to try a new way of opening up the texts.”
Vivienne, who is available to offer talks to small groups on the psalms using her textile creations, is currently working on a new project, and with this in mind she would be very interested in hearing about any church art involving the pelican. To contact Vivienne, please call either 07952 94 80 38 or 01507 62 20 37, or write to her by email.
St James’ Church is open daily, and further information on the church, which is part of the Team Parish of Louth, may be found online here.
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