Arts Wednesday: Lesley Waite on the Art of Colin McCahon

This is the fourth of seven pieces meant to introduce our readers to participants in our ordination preparation course at The Seminary of the Christian Community in North America. Each one will contemplate a work – or works – of art that speak to their path and Christ’s working in the world in some way.  We havce heard from Victoria Capon, Jeana Lee and Mimi Coleman. Today we introduce you to Lesley Waite.

Lesley dives deeply into a longer piece on the striking work of Colin McCahon.  

Lesley Waite shows us how McCahon’s work clearly moves into the core drama of the spiritual abyss that opened up in the 20th century, but through his art – and his faith – he finds this abyss can become gateway into a kind of birth, as revealed in the text on the painting, “Gate III”:

in this dark
                    night of Western
                    civilization

O earth earth earth How is the hammer of the
                              whole earth cut
                              asunder and broken.
All ye who kindle a fire and gird
Yourselves about with firebrands:
Walk ye in the flames of your fire and among
the brands which ye have kindled.

Lesley continues: “The way in which McCahon places emphasis on certain words, through their placement and through the thickness of the paint, and whether he has used black or white for the words; the landscape shapes and ‘sky’ colours, all tell his story. The ‘I’ suggests the breaking asunder of the earth; the ochre ‘sky’ above the horizon of mountains and the darkness overwhelming it at the beginning, contrasts sharply to the light/love portrayed at the end of the story, when one has entered through the ‘gate’.

Such despair at the beginning, and such hope through faith towards the final words resonated with my own feelings of our land…”  

You can read the rest of the powerful piece on our seminary blog, or by reading the attached document.

Lesley Waite now live in Wellington, New Zealand, mother of two daughters who each have two children. One daughter and family live in Warwickshire, England, the other with her family in New South Wales, Australia. Travels have become pilgrimages; outer journeys often coincide with inner journeying towards the meaning and expression of faith. In preparation towards possible service at the altar, travel has become ‘digital’ as a zoom.room is dialed up; faith and hope now face challenges in a new guise!