In 2000, Chris Gollon was commissioned by the Church of England to paint fourteen Stations of the Cross for the Church of St John on Bethnal Green, a grade-one listed church designed by Sir John Soane and situated next to the V&A’s Museum of Childhood in East London. Gollon took the unusual step of using his own son as the model for Jesus, his daughter as Mary, and his wife as Veronica. Fr Alan Green is cast as Nicodemus, and David Tregunna (Gollon’s friend and agent) as Joseph of Arimathea. The juxtaposition of real figures with imagined ones creates a heightened sense of reality.
The 14 paintings, which vary in size and are site-specific, took 9 years to complete, have received wide critical acclaim in the national press and media and in all denominations of the Christian press. They were permanently installed in St John on Bethnal Green in March 2009 and subsequently blessed by Richard Chartres, Bishop of London. In the same year, award-winning novelist Sara Maitland’s book Stations of the Cross, featuring and wholly inspired by Gollon’s 14 paintings, was published by Continuum (London & New York). A chapter is also devoted to the series, and the story of the commission told, in art historian Tamsin Pickeral’s book Chris Gollon: Humanity in Art (Hyde & Hughes, 2010). Click on the image and scroll to see all fourteen paintings.
‘Like [Stanley] Spencer, he dramatises the everyday in contemporary images and, depicting our clumsy, ridiculous ordinariness, brings alive for a modern, cynical audience the ghastly dissonance of this story of good and evil, sacrifice and humanity, answering on its own terms a 21st-century culture that regards the heroic as absurd.’
Critic’s Choice, Jackie Wullschlager, Chief Visual Arts Critic, Financial Times (To read full article in the Financial Times, click on last thumbnail above).
To view the Stations of the Cross and verify opening hours: St John on Bethnal Green