Margaret Blank – Architecture – Heaven’s Gate
I sing in a trio at my church, and a few times a year we participate in a special worship service called “Taize” — named after the Taize community in France where this style of worship originated. The music for these services is sung — a form of chant, very simple and repetitive. It’s easy to memorize. One of these pieces is a favourite of mine:
The Kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Come Lord, and open in us the Gates of Your Kingdom.
There: “The Gates of Your Kingdom” — those words captured my imagination several months ago. When this latest theme came around, I already had a mental picture of what I wanted to do: create an architectural image of the Gates of Heaven and an impression of what lay beyond. Of course, no one really knows…so this entire piece is of my imagination, inspired by that Taize chant.
The style of the Gates I found in a photo I took while in Stratford, Ontario last May. On a walk through a park by the river there, I came upon this cupola:
I loved the simple yet elegant outline, and figured I could create a stencil of the shape without too much difficulty. Hah! I managed to reproduce the shape and enlarge it to use as a gate…but I have “wonky” eyesight. That is, my brain had trouble separating what I should cut away to create the stencil, and what I should leave behind. It took me an entire afternoon and several attempts — and wasted materials — before I got a stencil!
Once created, I laid the stencil behind a piece of light-weight white poly-cotton fabric, and traced out the shape in blue gel glue, creating a ‘resist’ — because I wanted to paint the background around the shape of the gates:
Once that was completely dry, I laid the fabric on top of a large sheet of water-colour paper — to absorb the excess — and began to paint. With limited time for this project — a family wedding has been my focus for the past two months! — I allowed myself to just relax and play. I had an image of Heaven behind and around the gates that was really more like an earthly garden — or maybe Eden — with brilliant blue sky and banks of flowers. I used a sponge to create the sense of movement in the sky, and incorporated metallic paint in sky and foreground for an impression of the ‘dazzle’ that I envision is part of the Heavenly garden.
When that was completely dry, I soaked it in very warm water to removed the glue. I then created a quilt sandwich with the piece and using fine black thread, quilted around the gates an the garden to create the look of a ‘pen, ink and water-colour’ painting. After the quilting, I went back in and painted the gates with pearlesque paint so that they became the “Pearly Gates”. French knots scattered over the landscape accented the ‘flowers’ in the garden and provided texture.
Though I carried it in my mind for months, I spent only five days creating this piece — because that was all the time I had! Giving myself permission to play, to let the results be what they would be, was really the most challenging part of this project for me. I hope you like it!