It was good to spend much of last week painting with vermilion acrylic paint on 40 selected photographs of rural and urban vista that share the theme of sanctuary, be it beautiful countryside, contemplative seascapes or known places of shelter for homeless persons.

The painting was constrained by the conceit of rules that I had imposed on myself – painting the lines of the grid in the same order and painting each line in the same direction – left to right for horizontal lines and top-down for vertical lines with the [bristle] brush strokes being repeated to provide a texture of parallel lines which were intentionally translucent to allow the detail of the photograph still to be discernible on closer inspection.

I enjoyed the resonances of the grid; the fact that it has multiple layers of referencing, – as previously stated [in my reflections on dialogues 2013] it resonates with the abstract concern with the grid and with self imposed rules of art making; it also references the grid in a camera view finder; the compositional rule of thirds; it also resonates with the contemporary preoccupation with social media and the popularity of tagging or hash tagging people, places and issues in posts; and finally it is also a reminder of the emotive power of art in the grid’s resemblance to a large musical sharp.

Over the week as I painted, first solely the grid then followed by 39 games, the pictures accumulated on the work table and I was pleased with their cumulative visual effect; it disturbed, giving dark undertones of violent incidents. It somehow speaks of suffering and the despoilment of the places of sanctuary or contemplation. I am pleased with this effect and it seems particularly poignant that it is an apparently innocent simple game that is doing the damage; this seems to me to resonate with how easily, and often unintentionally, and thoughtlessly we can fail to be good stewards of our resources, gifts and relationships. This seems to strengthen the spiritual undercurrent in my work – that we we need God’s help, inspiration, and strength to enable us to exercise good stewardship, whether or not we acknowledge it at the time and that this is made possible through the once and for all self sacrifice of Jesus.