Friday, February 12, 2010

Passion : Part 3 : Stations Of The Cross

Lent is fast approaching, and I have put together three series of images for Holy Week – the Stations of the Cross, the wounds of Jesus, and the words of Jesus on the cross.

Here are the Stations of the Cross. They are a re-visiting of an earlier set of images I created some years ago, and used in two different contexts at theological college (small copies were displayed on the library corridor; large copies were used in the end-of-term service before Easter). Explanations are offered below.

I am posting them now in case anyone would like to make use of them – feel free to project them or print them, but please abide by the Creative Commons license on the sidebar.

+ stations of the cross
I wanted to piece together a series of images representing the Stations of the Cross. The fourteen stations, traditionally depicting scenes from the last week of Jesus’ life through sculpture or painting, form a spiritual pilgrimage in preparation for Easter. Some variation exists as to the scenes, and I’ve chosen a list created by Pope John Paul II, which limits itself to scenes recounted in the New Testament Gospels and eschews stations inspired by extra-biblical church tradition.

1 + agony in the garden
I took this photograph at a celebration marking one of the major festivals of the Church year. The hands are raised in worship; ecstatic, not traumatic. Yet I can’t think of a greater expression of worship than Jesus’ prayer, “...yet not my will but yours be done...”

2 + betrayal and arrest
The shape of the bread brings to my mind both the hillside garden and two faces kissing. Judas was at the Last Supper; took bread and wine among the community of Jesus’ disciples...

3 + condemned by the sanhedrin

I took this photograph at the same worship celebration as the image used to depict agony in the garden. I imagine the members of the Sanhedrin who condemned Jesus to be a crowd of devout, fervent God-worshippers; and wonder about the actions, and potential actions, of such crowds I have been in...

4 + denied by Peter
For the Denial, I have used a self-portrait. This is me: a friend and follower of Jesus, a leader of others, a man who denies my Lord many times a day. The image has an almost stained-glass window style - a contained religious feel. But this is my shadow, my dark side, my pensive fear and regret; me unable to show my face; in need of being restored to relationship.

5 + condemned to death by Pilate
If everyday bread and wine symbolise Jesus’ body and blood, why shouldn’t we pause before the everyday action of washing our hands at the bathroom sink to reflect on those times Jesus is more trouble than he is worth to us, and we wash our hands of him and walk away?

6 + scourged and crowned with thorns
Flayed meat...

7 + made to carry his cross
I took this photograph looking straight up at the trees overhead, and it has a disoriented, dizzying feel to it. The convergence of the two trunks forms a cross carried on the shoulders; the tangle of branches and foliage at the intersection forms a bedraggled head.

8 + Simon of Cyrene made to carry the cross
Religious language makes use of the phrase “covered by the blood of Jesus”...Simon of Cyrene was the first to be covered - literally - by his blood. I imagine Simon as having come up to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, dressed in his best wedding-and-feast-days robes - only for those robes to be torn and splattered with blood and sweat and dust as he is forced to carry another man’s cross in the parade to public execution. And I wonder about how we dress ourselves up in order to approach God; and how we end up looking before him.

9 + the women of Jerusalem

Religious art is often accused as objectifying women as virgins, mothers or prostitutes. I’d suggest that one of the ways in which our society objectifies women is as high street shoppers, and walking shop mannequins. What does Jesus passing by, being led out to die, say to such women (perhaps bored, certainly inoculated against images of human suffering)?

10 + crucified
This discarded, heat-blistered and rust-scarred cooker was abandoned in the no-mans-land on the edge of my in-laws village. When I watched The Passion of the Christ, I was totally unmoved: that’s just a man and a make-up team. Somehow I find this scene more thought-provoking.

11 + promises paradise
Three carcasses hanging in a row. The tacky plastic peppers add an air of carnival, spectacle, to what is essentially something dead in a public place.

12 + speaks to John and Mary
If Jesus’ death is a selfless action that secures the future for many, his dying concern to secure a future for his mother and the disciple who has become like a younger brother to him is a foretaste of this - his reconfigured family.

13 + dies
The light shines in the darkness...and the darkness is just about to snuff it out. The Psalm Jesus quotes from on the cross (22: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?...) includes reference to “My heart has turned to wax...”

14 + laid in the tomb


  1. eleanor rouseau2:02 pm

    These are beautiful, Andrew. I specially like the comments attached to each image. Thanks.

  2. Thank you, Eleanor.
    This is one part of a three part set. The other two parts are perhaps not beautiful, but certainly powerful images that I am very pleased with, as someone who creates images but can't really call myself an artist. I would love to have all three sets printed on canvas as displayed in an exhibition somewhere - perhaps one day they will be.