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Divine Art

Penny Warden's 'God of dance'

Finchampstead artist Penny Warden's life-size paintings of Christ's crucifixion adorn the walls of Blackburn Cathedral. She tells us how she's infused her Divine Art with motion and energy.

Series of oil paintings - (C) Penny Warden
Penny's paintings show stages of the crucifixion.

Ballet and Jesus Christ aren't often found together in a sentence, but Penny Warden paints both with the same inspiration: dance.

"There is the underlying sense of 'The Journey' as a dance, that the dance of death can lead us into a more joyful dance of new life," she says of her work.

Penny's collection of fifteen life-size paintings - depicting the crucifixion of Christ - hang on the walls of Blackburn Cathedral, in Lancashire.

"Three truths lie behind those paintings," says Penny.

Penny Warden
Penny Warden: 'emphasis on action and chance'

"The first is that images have a unique power to evoke emotions, they can disturb the soul but also have the power to change and transform what we feel - to show us a new way forward.

"Secondly, that colour also exerts a direct influence on our soul.

"Thirdly, that God is a God of dance!"

Spirit, emotion and movement

Penny graduated from Oxford with a degree in Theology in 1984 and went on to head a Religious Studies department, all the time continuing to paint. In 2001 she became a full-time artist.

While Penny paints with many different subjects, her religious work has achieved a special significance: in 2005, Blackburn Cathedral chose to display her oil paintings.

Her work has also been seen in ten other cathedrals and Penny has also exhibited at St Paul's Cathedral, alongside the likes of Tracey Emin.

"Station 15: The Resurrection" (C) Penny Warden
Detail from Penny Warden's "The Resurrection"

Penny says she wanted her approach to Christ's crucifixion to involve movement - from the finished product to the methods she used.

"I was seeking to capture the essential spirit, emotion and movement of that figure for myself, and at the same time wanting the painting to try to speak of the anguish of human existence."

'An invitation'

"The way I paint involves risks and accidents because I work, whenever possible, with a maximum of spontaneity - the emphasis being on action and chance.

"I paint rapidly, rhythmically and intensely, destroying the previous layers, throwing and splattering the oil paint.

"The result is that the final Christ figure is in some sort of dance with the onlooker. 

"The images are not so much painted in order to beg us to pity him, but rather are an invitation to join him in the dance.

"My hope is that 'The Journey' will resonate with many who are following their own personal way of suffering and that they will go to Blackburn Cathedral to find a sympathetic space."

Find out more on Penny's website:
Penny Warden >
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last updated: 24/09/08
 
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paul
i want to know why people not believe in God

Jess Fox
Penny has shown the power of dance and christ him self to those hows who don't believe in god

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