A Holy Year Begun

May 14 th 2010

How does a work of art begin for me? Sometimes I don't know, but right now I am working on a project that started with a blank spot on the front wall of the church where I worship. What, I asked myself, would I make to hang there? My imagining wandered towards a series of banners celebrating the Christian year. The potential size and shape of the works would be determined by the size of the empty wall space.

I started making notes on the traditional colours for each church season, and one or two images came to mind: monarch butterflies for Easter . . . a sun rising behind winter branches for Epiphany. Why not limit myself to what I can see around me in this rural part of Eastern Ontario? For Holy Week, with the colours of black and red . . . we have been clearing hawthorn trees, and I hung a large branch in my small winter studio. It was both a model and an effective Lenten meditation, as I dodged the long, sharp thorns while I worked.

I have batiked possible versions of "Epiphany" and "Holy Week." I can't really tell whether I am satisfied with the pieces until the weather is warm enough to clean out the wax with solvent and hang them outdoors to dry. I plan to continue working on the series through the year, as I live each season of the Christian story.

Topics: Arts

Sarah Hale first learned about batik as an art form while teaching in Japan in 1968. Some years later, she took a workshop in basic batik technique, and began exploring the medium as a way of saying something new about an often-painted landscape. Her experiments pleased her, and in a few years she was making a living as a batik artist.