The Living Tree of Jesse

Posted by admin2556 on October 12, 2011

An Exhibition of Paintings by Richard Pomeroy, to coincide with the restoration of Wells Cathedral's famous C14th stained glass window.

The Chapter House, Wells Cathedral

The Tree of Jesse was a development of biblical imagery in medieval story telling. In part it is a tracing of Jesus' ancestry much as the Anglo Saxon Chronicles emphasised Alfred's ancestry to justify his position as King of Wessex. Today we are still obsessed with our family histories. In the huge window over the altar at Wells the 'tree' is a vine, coiling round Jesse's family.

In these 10 new paintings by Richard Pomeroy, the Jesse window is transformed into a living and contemporary version of the medieval vision. Four of the paintings set the scene, showing the cathedral and the window. The other six paintings are of figures entwined with the vine; leaves, tendrils and bunches of grapes give vitality and sensuality to the theme of ancestral lineage. The Jesse window has been made modern.

Pomeroy's work is richly coloured and exudes energy. The vine is life-like, the grapes pickable, the tendrils reaching out. Background colours glow through the paintings, as though made of glass.

Most of these large paintings - all measuring 183 x 91.5cm - are based on the body. The artist lies down in carefully prepared wet paint on primed linen, creating a body print. The resulting image can form the dramatic centrepiece of the painting or be gradually subsumed by the subsequent layers of paint. The clothing in the body prints is clearly modern, zips and denim defining the period. The figures bring those depicted in the window to the street of today.

The works will be exhibited in the glorious surroundings of the medieval Chapter House and will be open to the public from 9-17 October 2011 during normal Cathedral opening hours.