I get two questions at St.Paul’s Hammersmith about the triptych. First, “Is this finished?” To the traditional art person the left panel is clearly the only one yet to be started. But for a modern art person then the left panel might be only one completed. The mass of gold squares have a mystical depth wherein perhaps broods the Holy Ghost? Either or both may be correct, though sketches left around do imply a traditional outcome.
Meanwhile I am growing to like things as they are, with curtains, buckets and gantries. To me it’s an artistic “installation”. Why? Because metaphorically the church is The Body of Christ to the world now, between salvation and judgement. That’s a tall order. We won’t perfectly imitate Christ. But we hope to become Christ-like through grace, and also to present Christ as best we can through works and mercy to all, though neither of these can ever be finished.
So here’s that second question. Isn’t that idea well represented by an ever unfinished triptych, a continuous “work in progress”? The church artists and workers go to work every day in a reflexive arrangement between reality and representation. They seek to create the image of Christ metaphorically in social work, and literally in our art, in a triptych that I hope never gets finished.