MEG LAWRENCE AND HER WORK

Meg Lawrence was born in Kent in 1953. Whilst her work is strikingly original and compelling, she is unusual amongst present-day ecclesiastical artists in her passionate adherence to Christian iconography and figurative images and her dependence on sound drawing technique. In her work, she makes use, throughout, of studies fom the life-model, drapery and foliage and she incorporates symbolism, decorative motifs and architectural details taking inspiration from the long tradition of Christian art.

It is fashionable within the Church to talk of the need for artefacts or music to be "of our time". Meg believes that this stems from an embarrassment in facing up to the opposite concept, that of timelessness. She has a great admiration for the painter John Ward (1917-2007), who once said in an interview, "if art is not timeless, it is worthless". She feels that, while fashions change, academic drawing skills and faultless craftsmanship will always endure.

One of her prime motivations is her love and respect for parish church architecture and traditional liturgy. It is her wish to contribute to, and in a small way to become a part of, the long tradition of expressing ideals through Christian iconography.

For twenty years, Meg lived in Canterbury, where the Cathedral and its architecture, stained glass, music and pattern of worship were to become important influences on her work. In 1998, the invitation to carry out a prolonged programme of conservation on the scheme of Pugin windows at St Paul's Church, Brighton introduced her to the rich traditions of the Anglo-Catholic church and its art and liturgy.

Since moving from Canterbury in 1995, she has lived in a remote farmhouse set in the beautiful hills of Radnorshire. A fast-running brook flows through oak woodland right alongside her studio. In surroundings of utter peace and quiet, in the extremes of Welsh weather or beneath clear starlit skies, she is in daily contact with the landscape in all its moods. She lives close to the natural world, with its abundance of plants, birds and animals, and its colours and vibrant details abound in her paintings.

Amongst the other conscious influences on Meg's work is her deep respect for the creativity of the architects, designers, cartoonists, glass-painters and muralists of the Gothic Revival and their scholarly approach to iconography. Alongside her commissions for original work, she also, until 1998, had the discipline of working in stained glass conservation and thereby gained an unparalleled knowledge of the styles of work of many of the great stained-glass artists of the past one-hundred-and-fifty years. She now no longer undertakes conservation.

Meg is also interested in the Arts & Crafts movement both in London and Dublin, but she feels little sympathy with most of the developments since that time, feeling ill-at-ease with abstraction, with consciously primitive drawing, experimental techniques, passing fashions and any form of commercialism.

She is adamant that a work of ecclesiastical art should not be conceived as a picture at an exhibition. She attends closely to its architectural function, its religious function, its liturgical location within the church and its role as a spiritual image. The key to her approach is a standpoint of essential humility and discipline, an adherence to precedents and a belief that self-expression is to be avoided. In this way she hopes that there will be the possibility for profound qualities to be distilled into the work of art and for these qualities to be communicated to the beholder.