The congregation of the Ohaupo ‘Christ Church’ Anglican church desired a focal piece of artwork for the worship space of their quaint and well attended church. I was ‘found’ and so began a journey of sharing of ideas and faith in order to create an artwork that was both meaningful to the community and also symbolic of Christian faith.
Trinity triptych concept
The three panels of the triptych are symbolic of the Trinity, The left panel ‘The Father’, the right panel ‘The Spirit’ and the central panel ‘The Son’ given the central position to acknowledge the namesake of the church, ‘Christ Church’. The panels have been proportioned and shaped like windows to reflect the existing architecture within the church, giving a focal point to the front of the church. The landscape scenes depicted in each of the panels borrow elements from the churches surrounding landscape. This is both an acknowledgement of the community within which the church exists and a celebration of God’s creation.
- The panel to the left representing the Father. Imagery includes:
- Amber colours (symbolic of the Glory of God)
- A dark blue sky (symbolic of the word of God) with sunset symbolic of God being the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.
- The landscape representing creation.
- Green of the fields throughout symbolic of the mixing of yellow (trials) and blue (word of God).
- The central panel representing Christ. Imagery includes:
- The church building (the church/bride of Christ)
- A cross within the architecture of the building
- Native trees (Kowhai, the colour yellow being symbolic of trial, fire and purification)
- Mount Pirongia creating an apex, connection of the land with sky = Christ providing the bridge between earth and heaven.
- The structure of the painting provides an initial focus on the church building with the eye encouraged to look up to the apex of the church roof, to the mountain behind and ultimately the sky above. This upward journey of the eye is symbolic of us looking heavenward even when planted on the earth.
- The panel to the right representing the Holy Spirit. Imagery includes:
- The lake waters symbolizing baptism and John the Baptist’s words that, ‘one is coming who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit’.
- The Tui in the sky symbolizing not just the Holy Spirit (often depicted as a dove in ecclesiastical artworks) but also the connection of Christian spirituality to New Zealand’s unique culture.
- The Māori artwork formed within the foliage of the tree in front of the lake is inspired by artwork from the Liturgy of Baptism from A New Zealand Prayer Book.
The symbolic representations described above are perhaps only the beginning of the interpretations of this artwork. As I worked on these pieces I found different meanings were revealed to me that I had not intentionally included. At the blessing service for the artwork, congregation members were already finding new meaning that I had not seen myself! It is my hope that new interpretations will continue to have meaning to others in the future as well.