I have two questions at St.Paul’s Hammersmith about the triptych. First I’m often asked, “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 the rough sketches left around indicate the intention of a traditional outcome.
Meanwhile I am growing to like things as they are, the stage cluttered 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 and can’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 our never finished triptych; a continuous “work in progress”? The church’s artists and workers go to work every day in a complementary arrangement of reality and representation. They seek to create an image of Christ metaphorically in social work, and literally in the art. They seek to illustrate the work of Christ literally in social work, and metaphorically in the art.
I hope the triptych never gets finished; as long as the task it represents remains incomplete and impossible; bringing salvation, mercy and grace to all.