This is a contemporary piece of art in keeping with the modernity of St Bride’s Church which picks up on The Last Supper scene above the altar. It also draws inspiration from the French Linen Tapestry, The Tree of Life that for many years hung in the porch of the church. Deep in meaning, this unique work created for this place of worship is composed of recycled metal, which also demonstrates our concern for responsible stewardship of the Earth’s resources.
At the heart of this contemporary piece of art lies a duality of form and interpretation. In form that duality is in two parts: the Cross and the Tree of Life held together by the Crown of Thorns and the Grave-Cloth of Christ. The Crown of Thorns, however, has been transfigured into a Crown of Glory which is the promise of our Redemption and is emblematic of the triumph of the New Creation.
At the bottom joining the two crosses is the sculptured cloth which has varying interpretations: these are the swaddling clothes of the stable in Bethlehem, a symbol of the Incarnation, when the Divinity of Christ was clothed in human flesh. This is also the seamless robe of Christ for which the soldiers threw dice at Calvary, and it is the grave cloth of Christ left behind in the tomb as a symbol of His Resurrection.
This duality of form continues in its interpretation; for in this work we find side by side both God and Man, Life and Death, Old and New Testament, Nature and Grace, Mary and Eve, Cross and Resurrection. This work seeks to speak to us of salvation history and the full Christ ‘Event’ as its title suggests: The Birth, Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ.
In a sense we are also brought back to the Garden of Eden and the Fall. The tree and eaten fruit speak of our alienation from God and our radical need of Redemption. Beside the consumed fruit at the top of the tree is the Rosa Mystica, the symbol of Mary, the new Eve and Mother of the Redemption. This is the first promise of salvation and prophecy of the coming of Christ that we find in the First Book of the Old Testament: ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; you will strike at her heel She will crush your head.’ Genesis 3:15
Mary, the most beautiful of all God’s creation, is the ‘rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys’ [Song 2:1]. There is no rose comparable to her and like Christ she too is the first fruits of the New Creation as the Doctrine of her Assumption illustrates.
The second fruit found upon on the Tree of Life is whole and untouched, and represents Christ, the fruit of Mary’s womb and recalls the words of scripture, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’ Luke 1:42