Gospel Sketchbook

2016-2019

Over the course of three years, artist I.D. Campbell is painting the Gospel of Luke.

There will be 24 paintings, one for each chapter, painted live at St George’s Tron Church of Scotland. As with his painting “Our Last Supper”, all the scenes for the Gospel of Luke will have a contemporary Glasgow setting.

Chapter 1: The Annunciation. 2017, Oil on Canvas, 30" x 40"Chapter 1: The Annunciation

2017, Oil on Canvas, 30” x 40”

Chapter 1 of Luke sees the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary, a young bride-to-be, that she’s going to have God’s baby. To portray Gabriel, Iain opted for a bronze statue of an angel in the Glasgow’s Necropolis. The model for Mary is Fereshteh, an asylum seeker from Iran, who was part of a Bible study group run by Glasgow City Mission called “New Glaswegians” for folks they work with who have English as an additional language. Mary and Gabriel represent both the new and the old Glasgow. Traditionally, in paintings of the Annunciation, Gabriel presents Mary with lilies, which used to be a symbol of purity. In our culture, they are more often a funeral flower, which coincides with the setting of the Necropolis. In the background of the image are Celtic crosses: this painting, which is initially about announcing the birth of Jesus, also foreshadows his death.

Chapter 2: The Incarnation. 2017, Oil on Canvas, 30" x 40"Chapter 2: The Incarnation

2017, Oil on Canvas, 30” x 40”

Unlike most traditional images of Jesus’ birth, Iain was keen for this painting to reflect what birth really looks like. Traditional images of this moment can feel naïve and can seem to deny the incarnation; God in a real human body. Jesus being born as a completely vulnerable person is one of the ways God chooses to identify with us.

The painting was based on a photograph by Chris Hoskins, taken at the birth of his second son, Eli. Chris is known for his Scottish landscape photography and his humanitarian work with charities like Tearfund. When Iain first saw the photograph, he was struck by the power of the image and was strongly reminded of the birth of own children. the image depicts an occurrence which is simultaneously every-day and unique.

Chapter 3: The Wilderness

Chapter 4: The Temptation

2017, Oil on Canvas, 2 canvasses each 30” x 40”

Setting Jesus’ temptation in the city is difficult, as most of the story takes place in the desert. However, the very last scene is Jesus being led to the top of the temple by the devil. St George’s Tron Church of Scotland has a clock tower which Iain and filmmaker Ross Wiseman climbed to source the images for this painting. Initially Iain planned just to have an image of Jesus looking out over the city, but the photographs that he took were too closely cropped in to give a sense of the drama of the cityscape. A friend of the project’s, Oliver McKee, was behind Iain and Ross taking video of their progress up the tower, and when the film was reviewed a still image was found which formed the basis of this painting. The image of a photographer alongside the figure representing Jesus has caused many people to reflect on contemporary issues of fame, social media pressure and suicide.

Chapter 5

Chapter 6: Blessed are the Poor

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Chapter 7: The Widow’s Son. 2017, Oil on Canvas, 30" x 40"Chapter 7: The Widow’s Son

2017, Oil on Canvas, 30” x 40”

This was the very first image of the series that Iain painted. The obvious image to portray from this scene would be a dramatic picture of Jesus raising this man from the dead, but in our culture, particularly in a city centre context, death is usually hidden in hospital.

However, we do regularly see signs of death in the city centre – flowers are often attached to railings where a sudden death has occurred, football shirts are hung up, candles are lit and a temporary shrine is created. In this image is the suggestion of death and resurrection: the flowers have wilted – all but one, which is alive.

Chapter 8: The Hem of His Garment. 2017, Oil on Canvas, 30" x 40"Chapter 8: The Hem of His Garment

2017, Oil on Canvas, 30” x 40”

This painting recreates the moment when a woman, desperate for healing physically and socially, seizes the moment at hand and reaches out to Jesus. Iain chose to paint this woman, not just meekly touching, but hanging on to Jesus.

The models for this painting all work in The Wild Olive Tree café, situated inside St George’s Tron Church of Scotland. The model portraying the woman who was healed was chosen because of her story of restoration and her testimony of what Jesus has done for her.

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12: Do Not Worry. 2017, Oil on Canvas with Embroidery, 30" x 40"Chapter 12: Do Not Worry

2017, Oil on Canvas with Embroidery, 30” x 40”

It can be easy for phrases in the Bible to become so familiar that they almost lose their meaning. When Jesus tells us “do not worry” and asks us to be like the flowers of the fields and the birds of the air, the words can glide past us with the ease of a pre-printed greetings card.

In this painting, we see the images of birds and flowers in the background, contrasted with the Iain’s friend, Fiona Morrison, going through her last chemotherapy session. There is a deliberate contrast between the birds and flowers and a familiar situation where it is all-but-impossible not to worry. There is no resolution to this dissonance: we are invited to embrace it as it is.

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16: The Rich Man and Lazarus. 2017, Oil on Canvas, 30" x 40"Chapter 16: The Rich Man and Lazarus

2017, Oil on Canvas, 30” x 40”

The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus has deep meaning for us at St George’s Tron Church of Scotland. So often, the poorest in society are ignored and invisible, while those of us who live in comfort are given priority. In this painting, our Lazarus takes prominence whilst the rich man in torment is placed at the back of the painting.

David (our model for Lazarus) and his wee dog Casper are regulars here – on Sundays at the services, and in The Wild Olive Tree café during the week. He’s one of the folk who makes use of the gifted soup and coffee scheme, where people can pay in advance for food and drink for someone who can’t afford it. Iain opted to paint the rich man as a self-portrait, inviting those of us who live in comfort to challenge ourselves on the stance we take to the poor.

Chapter 17

Chapter 18: The Persistent Widow

Chapter 19

Chapter 20: Double Portrait

2017, Oil on Canvas, 30” x 40”

When the religious authorities sent spies to trick Jesus into saying something that can get him arrested and executed, Jesus turns this into an opportunity to talk about something more important. Their question is about money, but his reply points to where real value is found in life.

Martin, the model for the painting, is a regular in The Wild Olive Tree café at St George’s Tron Church of Scotland. He holds out a pound coin, which bears an image of Queen Elizabeth II, who has more than 900 official portraits. This juxtaposition shows that regardless of how others have perceived us, each of us is of equal value in the sight of God.

Chapter 21: The Widow’s Offering

Chapter 22: The Arrest

Chapter 23: The Crucifixion

2017, Oil on Canvas, 2 canvasses each 30” x 40”

Because paintings of the crucifixion are so familiar, creating a fresh image is a challenge. The model for the painting looks more like a conventional Jesus figure than all the other images of Jesus in this series of paintings – he is a Middle Eastern man with long hair and a beard. The striking modern detail in this artwork is the tattoo on the forearm with the cross and the rose. Iain chose to use the rose motif throughout the painting, stencilled in the background, with an emphasis on the thorns. Roses have appeared earlier in this series of paintings in The Widow’s Son, where these flowers were used as a symbol of death and resurrection.

Chapter 24

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