After a two-year hiatus, The Church of St John on Bethnal Green
, designed by Sir John Soane, opens its doors for the Good Friday service. Once again, visitors may view Chris Gollon
s acclaimed Fourteen Stations of the Cross, a fine example of contemporary sacred art.
The Church of St John on Bethnal Green is a Grade I-listed church designed by Sir John Soane from 1826-28, and one of the East Ends most admired buildings. In 2000, Father Alan Green commissioned leading British, and London-born, artist Chris Gollon (1953-2017) to create 14 Stations of the Cross paintings for the church.
The sequence of paintings took eight years to complete. Father Alan Green, as Rector of the church, collaborated with Gollon on the project. Gollon used his son as the model for Jesus, and his daughter as Mary; he cast Father Alan as Nicodemus.
Upon the site-specific artworks unveiling in 2008 on Good Friday Gollons Fourteen Stations of the Cross were blessed by Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, and permanently installed in the church in 2009. They were also chosen as Critics Choice in both The Times and the Financial Times, featured on BBC TV News and Chris Gollon was interviewed by Ed Stourton about his Stations for Radio 4s Today Programme.
Jackie Wullschlager, in the Financial Times, said: It was a bold, inspired decision of Father Alan Green to commission Chris Gollon. She noted: Like [Stanley] Spencer, he dramatizes the everyday in contemporary images, depicting our clumsy, ridiculous ordinariness, bringing alive for a modern audience the ghastly dissonance of this story of good and evil, sacrifice and humanity, answering on its own terms a 21st-century culture that regards the heroic as absurd.
One painting from Gollons Fourteen Stations of the Cross was also shown in Presence: Images of Christ for the Third Millennium in St Pauls Cathedral, alongside works by Bill Viola, Tracey Emin, Maggi Hambling and Craigie Aitchison.
The Church of St John on Bethnal Green will open for the 10am Good Friday service on April 15 2022. Fourteen Stations of the Cross may once more serve both as an aid to worship and as a visitor attraction.