The Journey towards Stations of the Cross 2019.
27th March 2019
Stations of the Cross Exhibition 2019
Northmead April 8 - 21
Pictured above: Station 14 Jesus is laid in the tomb by Jo Braithwaite
The Stations of the Cross exhibition opening on 8th April at Northmead High School has been inspiring people viewing the exhibition for the past 12 years. In sharing his inspiration for this project, Rev Dr Doug Purnell explains, “After seeing an exhibition of the New Zealand artist, Colin McCahon, featuring the Franciscan Stations of the Cross, I decided as an Easter discipline for myself, to ‘pray’ the Stations of the Cross by painting my own series. It dawned on me, slowly, that this exercise was an existential prayer. How do we live when we know that we are finite? How do we live when we experience suffering?”
This artistic exploration of an ancient tradition opens up the story of Jesus’ Good Friday journey and attracts 15 different artists each year. Doug writes, “I invite them to engage with the questions the station raises for them. I provide a pastorally informed commentary on the each of the traditional Franciscan stations (14 plus ‘resurrection’) and that commentary becomes the brief for the artist."
"When I approach artists, I ask them not because they are religious or not religious, Christian or not Christian; I ask them because they are good artists who have the capacity to address significant existential questions through their art.”
Reflecting on the project as a pastoral theologian, Doug says, “I see lived experience as primary text for theological reflection. Each year when I receive the works for the exhibition, I am excited by the artist’s integrity, and their capacity to give us works that reflect the deep questions of beings.”
“Large numbers of people walk through the exhibition as part of their Easter discipline, or ‘just out of interest”. Doug says. “Always people are deeply moved; it is not unusual to see people with tears running down their faces or, to hear them say, ‘I can identify with that.’ Our hope is to build the idea of groups of people making a Lenten/Holy Week pilgrimage in which they might walk the way of the cross where there is a contemporary reading of Jesus’ walk.”
The first years of the exhibition were at St Ives Uniting Church in suburban Sydney, and then it moved to Northmead Creative and Performing Arts High School. It has also been held at the McGlade Gallery at Australian Catholic University, Strathfield and at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Canberra.
“We now have a number of events associated with the exhibition: the formal opening, a wine and cheese night, a jazz night, a Good Friday service, a grief workshop, a number of guided tours, the moderator of the Uniting Church will offer a retreat for ministers and key leaders… and most specially, an Eremos Quiet Morning. We encourage groups, communities, and families to come; walk the way of the cross in this contemporary expression of the gospel.”
Details of all these events are on their Facebook page: Stations of the Cross Northmead Facebook
The catalogue includes the commentary or brief given the artists, images of each artwork, and comments by the artists. You can view the catalogue at: