West Yorkshire Print Workshop is delighted to present a new exhibition by Alan Birch. ‘Later-Day Saints’ is a humorous contemporary take on medieval iconography.
Over the last four years Waterfoot-based printmaker Alan Birch has been working on a series of prints which take their starting point from the collection of saintly wood carvings in the Wellcome Collection at The Science Museum in London.
The depiction of saints is a subject he has been long fascinated with, found in paintings and illustrations in galleries, museums or churches. The durability and spirituality of these works linked to faith has remained over hundreds of years. Originally used as comforting symbols for followers, many icons offered hope and solace from medical and personal difficulties. A typical example is St Apollonia, the patron saint of tooth problems, martyred by having her teeth pulled, and often depicted in illustrations having her teeth extracted.
“The seed for this series was sown when the media reported that Roberto Mancini had been to church prior to the Manchester City game which secured the Premier League title. His prayers along with thousands of others (mine among them) were answered as the game was won against the odds. A sporting miracle! Even in these contemporary times faith and devotion are still strong. From this moment, St. Last Minute, the patron saint of football fans was born.”
There followed 80 other monoprints, introducing Saints Kindle, Lotto, Tweetus and Selfie to a new audience. 26 prints have become etchings and hand-coloured drypoints. This transformation of the familiar encourages the spectator to take a second look at the work, be inquisitive and respond. The saints themselves, once figures and objects of devotion, are now featured holding or surrounded by modern objects of devotion. The series mirrors the modern- day obsession we have with object and image. How many people can be seen worshipping St. Selfie, St. Facebook, St. Pit Bull or indeed St. Last Minute?
The exhibition opens on 9th January and continues until 11th February 2017. Alan is running a dry-point printmaking taster session on 21st January. For further details check out www.wypw.org