During the first COVID-19 lockdown, a member of St Brandon’s Prayer Team envisioned a candle of hope as a focal point for visitors to the church. I developed ideas for a large canvas image using acrylic–painted collage drawing on inspiration from Gustav Klimt’s beautiful painting The Kiss and forms within the Paradise Window.
Using shades of yellow, the colour of hope, I set about embellishing a tall candle with shapes and images which suggest turmoil and activity whilst radiating hope.
The shape of the candle reflects forms outlined in windows in the south transept. In addition, the flame comprises aspects of the stunning Paradise Window in St Brandon’s east end.
The Bible brims with references to peace and one such image of swords being turned into ploughshares repeatedly came to mind (Isaiah 2:4). A short sword points upwards, sweeping into the blades of a plough; destructive implement transforms into productive tool. Peaceful blue predominates, coupled with complementary orange, gold and yellow motifs. The word ‘PEACE’ is interwoven with the lower half of the image and an olive branch sheds its leaves from the upper right.
Light streams from the gold flame atop the candle.
Faith, Hope and Love
The final three candles are a triptych, inspired by the final verse of the familiar passage in 1 Corinthians 13: ‘Now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love’.
The colours chose themselves: faithful green; yellow for hope; and the ubiquitous red for love.
Our church’s patron, St Brandon, exercised considerable FAITH on his journeys, so his boat is depicted bobbing in the sea, yet anchored securely to the rock of the ocean floor. Jesus himself. The mast acts as the wick, lighting the way and becoming a beacon for others to follow. The nautical theme is picked up in the Seaham sea glass and the bubbles which rise inexorably to the surface, and is underlined by driftwood sourced from the shore of a Scottish island overlooking the Kilbrannan Sound, named after our Brandon the Navigator.
A second HOPE candle centres on spring in the tree of life. Rooted in vitalising water, hope springs eternal and is further symbolised by the daffodil bursting into bloom. This ultimately bright candle rises out of despair and darkness. There are echoes of Pilgrim’s Progress in the winding plant; is it a road or is it a cross with tempting side shoots to distract and mislead? Green and gold leaves adorn the periphery, leading to a hopeful light emblazoned with leaves of light.
Another piece of driftwood cradles the candle.
And finally, the greatest of the three: LOVE. How best to depict all that encapsulates Christian love? So many biblical references to and symbols of love abound. All we are and do is rooted in love; we love because He first loved us. ‘Love is…’ statements written on three strands – seaweed? – stream from a piece of Scottish driftwood, plaited together entwined with the cross, the ultimate sacrificial love of Jesus. The central cross is inspired by that created by the late John Morgan, another St Brandon’s artist, from charred timbers and nails after the fire which destroyed the interior of the church in 1998. The cross breaks through the birch bark gleaned whilst walking on the neighbouring golf course during lockdown; another nod to traditional values of love, hope and new life.
Simpler background motifs allow the focus to fall on the words of love and the cross of Christ, leading to the light of life. Again, driftwood cups the candle tenderly. And is that water or tears? Christ’s compassion poured out.
Love conquers all.
(Images on this page are copyright Nick Brooker and may not be reproduced without permission.)