So, Someone Shot Jesus!

On Thursday 7th  November 2019, the Guardian carried a half-page article about the artist Lorna May Wadsworth, and particularly about a painting that she painted as a devotional object for a Church in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire. [1]

The painting  was commissioned by the Parochial Church Council for Nailsworth to hang behind the altar in St George’s Church in September 2008.

It was the request of the late Alan Denman, an ex-church warden who died in January 2008 aged 86. He left £5,000 to the church and the painting was part of a bequest. [2]

A new exhibition of Lorna May Wadsworth’s work was being assembled in Sheffield at the Graves Gallery. [3] The exhibition was planned as a retrospective of her work and ran/runs from 9th November 2019 to 15th February 2020.

When the painting of the Last Supper was being unpacked the painter noticed that there was a hole in Jesus’ right side which, after investigation, was found to have been caused by an air-rifle pellet.

Wadsworth expressed a concern that someone was so aggrieved by her portrayal of Christ that they wanted to attack it. …

What makes this painting unusual in a British context is the choice Wadsworth made to depict Jesus as black. The model is Tafari Hinds and Wadsworth’s intention was to challenge people’s perceptions, to ask the viewer to ‘look with fresh eyes’.

I am not too sure why anyone should have taken exception to the painting, but to have done so reflects more on the iconoclast than on the artist.

It is normal for us to create God in our own image. We have no warrant for doing so, but most of our religious paintings do just that. They reflect the culture in which they have been painted. So we tend to imagine Jesus as white with longer hair and blue eyes – the ‘Robert Powell Jesus’.

The truth is that Jesus would have been middle-eastern in appearance, probably not over tall, with swarthy skin and a prominent nose. Ultimately we domesticate our images of the divine, because to do so allows us to comprehend God better. If our whole perceptual framework is challenged, everything is uncertain. ….

What was Jesus like?  …….. Someone not to different from me! …. That is a valid and helpful response when first thinking about what it means for God to be incarnate.

However, we cannot stay there. We must not leave it at that. ……

For God incarnate, one of us, is God incarnate, one of us.

And we are all different. We cannot appropriate Jesus as our own. He belongs to us all. Every culture over the centuries has an equal stake in the person of Jesus. Jesus is one of us.

References

1.  https://amp.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/nov/06/artist-lorna-may-wadsworth-discovers-bullet-hole-in-jesus-in-last-supper-painting

2. https://www.stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk/news/4769963.huge-painting-of-the-last-supper-for-st-georges-church-nailsworth-is-complete

3. https://www.museums-sheffield.org.uk/museums/graves-gallery/exhibitions/coming-soon

 

2 thoughts on “So, Someone Shot Jesus!

  1. Tanllan

    Roger, I enjoyed the article, however, there is a series of typos in one pragraph. Any chance you correct it please? See Below.

    ‘nceshw is one of essed a concern that someone was so aggrieved by her portrayal of Christ that they wanted to attack it.’

    Regards, Geoff

    Reply

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