Thanks to a grant of $17,000 from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, St. George Anglican Church in North East Calgary is collaborating with BC-based textile artist Thomas Roach to create a large-scale permanent fabric art installation, made by our community, that will become the focal point of our future worship space (permanent installation projected for 2021)
Why is this project important?
St. George’s is highly diverse: socio-economically, culturally, ethnically, generationally, politically and in our differing physical and developmental abilities. We are old Calgarians and new Canadians. We are old-timers in the congregation, and newcomers. Yet under the leadership of artist Thomas Roach, every member of the congregation has something valuable to contribute to making this work of art. Making something beautiful together will give us an experience of empowerment, resourcefulness and resiliency. It will bring us together as a community, across our many divides.
What will it look like?
Artist Thomas Roach first came to visit us in May 2019, to listen and get to know us as a congregation. Then he developed a design based on those May interactions – a 11-foot high St. George’s cross, a mosaic of sorts, composed of 100, 10"-square panels, hung individually on the wall. Each square panel is itself composed of 16 unique squares in varying colours of dupioni silk. Every inch of silk has been silk-screened with the hand-written prayers of the congregation in the variety of languages spoken in our congregation. And it will be hand-embroidered all over with tiny beautifications so each square is entirely unique.
Since October 2019, Thomas has mentored the people of St. George’s to cut, silkscreen, piece together, assemble and embroider the entire artwork themselves. He is supporting us to make this extraordinary, beautiful, enormous work our own.
From a distance, the artwork will form one coherent image – red cross, white background – just as we are one united congregation. The closer one gets, the more detail and diversity emerge – just as each of us is entirely unique, and beautiful in the eyes of God.
As each 10" panel will be hung individually on the wall, the artwork will be fluid, allowing for seasonal changes. Congregants are working on a green setting at present, a Celtic Cross circle that will encompas the cross, composed of 28 squares that will swap in during "Ordinary Time".
The beauty of this fluidity is that our artwork doesn’t ever need to be finished. The congregation can continue developing themes, settings and embellishments for special occasions as their creativity continues to strike them. Thomas has worked dilligently to build up all the skills they might need to expand the artwork over time.
It is an artwork open to the growth of the congregation. Or rather, the artwork is in the building up of the congregation itself; the Cross, merely an expression of the beauty hidden our midst.