'Sum of Parts' triptych Winchester Cathedral
The title of this work is Sum of Parts; the artwork is about chalk.
I like working in series so, when I made the discovery that chalk was made up of the 3 elements, Oxygen, Calcium and Carbon, I knew I wanted to paint a triptych. The triptych allows us to consider the constituents of chalk and how the 3 elements differ: we can see their separation and combination and can make comparisons between the component parts as well as imagine how they transform as they come together - one thing into another - in the material we know well. It also gives us a sense of the time that it takes for chalk to evolve.
Chalk is formed when tiny organisms fall to the sea floor and consolidate and compress – slowly - over time - into chalk rock. The formation is about change and transformation.
Oxygen: presents part of a landscape – there are references to plant life, to breathing, to lungs, to organisms and to sea life. The artwork is bluer and greener than the other two.
Calcium: is produced in the explosions at the end of the lives of massive stars; in some of the artwork-segments we can see fragments of the universe spilling out towards us. There is a centre area of fluidity that suggests pouring milk and references to bony structures and shells created over the course of geologic time.
Carbon: this element is the chemical basis of all known life. Its different forms are graphite, diamond and amorphous carbon, the name used for coal and soot and other impure forms of carbon that are neither graphite nor diamond. The forms vary widely. Graphite is opaque, black and soft, diamond is transparent and incredibly hard. The artwork is dark and shows these different forms that coalesce over time with calcium and oxygen to become chalk.
This triptych was created specifically to hang along the outside of the Gardiner Chantry Chapel in Winchester Cathedral. The space lends itself to a triptych since it is divided into three arches, with the bishop located in the centre.
The triptych-form echoes the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity, as well as The Holy Trinity to which Winchester Cathedral is dedicated. Added to this, the triptych-form is often used for altarpieces in churches and cathedrals, and reflects the structure of ecclesiastical buildings as well as their stained glass windows.
The cathedral is a place for the contemplation of the cycle of Life. The ancient, slow formation and dissolution of chalk is part of that cycle. I wanted this work to stand in a site where Time is both physically present and seems to stand still, where there is a connection to something much larger than us and where Reflection feels natural.
The panels are painted on linen with layer on layer of oil paint and in some places a touch of spray-paint, making the work as much about the texture as about muted colour. I wanted the artwork to feel tactile and chalky, in the way that chalk is . . chalky