Friday, September 5, 2008

standing in awe

Not all the art in Bath involved pigs. I almost didn't visit the Abbey as I'd been there before and it was very crowded on Sunday with tourists and worshippers. By Tuesday however, it was considerably less crowded so I ventured inside to once more admire the stained glass windows and be dazzled by the ceiling of an incredible structure.

And to take in an exhibition of diptycts by an artist named Sue Symons.

Each of the 35 panels includes a passage from the Gospels of St Matthew depicting Jesus' life written out in illuminated calligraphy (inspiration from The Book of Kells) and is accompanied by a panel of fabric and thread needlework depicting the same passage from a personal abstract perspective. In researching this artist I found out that she was inspired to create this as a retirement project while living on Vancouver Island some 12 years ago and took calligraphy lessons specifically for this project. And, the most amazing thing, she is left handed. Being also left handed, I know how difficult calligraphy can be and to see her intricate works of art left me in almost as much awe as seeing the intricate stonework of the mediaeval building.

Jesus Enters Jerusalem Diptyct

If intrigued, have a look at the whole series here


  1. I will need to look at the whole series. These you've shown are so great, I really like the tan background of the abbey ceiling, and some of the panels. Her work is gorgeous. I have visited Trinity College's library and seen the Book of Kells a couple of times, just incredible.

    But wow, back to that ceiling, how amazing.

  2. Ruth: The Bath stone is beautiful isn't it? And the height of the ceiling with its fan carving just takes your breath away.

  3. That entire series is STUNNING! I wonder how long it took her to do these? They must be something to see "in person"....!
    And thje Ceiling....Oh My! It is exquisite! Thanks so much for sharing these things.

  4. Wow, you really know how to get an ecclesiastical person like myself all charged up. I love this! Thanks.

  5. It's so nice that painstaking work like this is still being done. You always thing of this sort of thing dying out with the middle ages or something. Art really is the reflection of what is best about humanity

  6. Want to hear something really horrible? I was in Bath on my honeymoon in 1989, and this was a day trip that we took as part of a sightseeing bus tour. (It was only for that day, we had been seeing England and Scotland on our own.) Well, the tour operator was so horrible, we missed being able to go into the Abbey, it had closed for the day, so I only got pictures from the outside.

    We went back to England in 1999, but our schedule did not allow us to get back to Bath.

    One of these days...

  7. Naomi: you're welcome and yes it all was something to see in person.

    UTO: you're welcome, I thought you would appreciate this.

  8. XUP: I'm sure she didn't do it by candlelight, though!

    Jazz: and to think I almost didn't go inside...

    Robin: I would go back just see it again, it is that incredible.

  9. Mr Nighttime: 2009? would be every ten years? and isn't it teeth gnashing to leave a place and then find out you missed something you really would have loved to see?

  10. I absolutely love the Book of Kells...
    when I was in College in Fredericton, the nearby University of New Brunswick had a most beautiful reproduction of the Book of Kells in a special section of the library.. They said there were only 52 made, I believe.. it was locked away in a back room... it could not be touched by any of us lowly students but a librarian with white cotton gloves gladly presented to us page by page...

    amazing in every way!!! we all did a project inspired by it.. One of my favourites...

  11. Wow, wow, wow. Such beautiful work and left handed! Dedication for sure. Taking the course as a preparation for a retirement project. I'm amazed, truly amazed by this.

    I also didn't go to the Abbey when I went to Bath eons ago. But just for that, I may well make a trip back there. It's such a beautiful city too.

    Thanks for posting!

  12. Thank you for reminding me what beautiful things there are to see on my doorstep so to speak



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