Lancaster Priory 2016

"Living Stones"

Portraits of the People of Lancaster Priory

by Cathy Wilson
Click here to see the pictures. 

I completed these portraits whilst I was Artist in Residence at the Priory from April 2014 to April 2016. This exhibition marked the end of the Residency and ran for the month of April 2016. My studio space during the residency was the room under the Bell Tower and when I was working, members of the public and staff of the Priory had access to watch me work as well as to see the progress of the drawings when I wasn’t around.
 The first stage of the work involved asking people if they would let me draw them. To my surprise, all but one person agreed and the rest were willing to come to my studio on Castle Park to be photographed. I then worked directly from these photographs using soft pastel on watercolour paper, now and again walking the length of the Church to view the drawings from a distance. Some of the people I chose myself, others were suggested to me, but every face I have drawn posed a unique challenge and it has proved to be an enjoyable process.
 I have tried to include a variety of ages, ethnicity and roughly the same number of men and women, to highlight the rich diversity of life in this Church. Some faces will be easily recognisable, others less so, but all are connected with the Priory, in some way such as members of the Clergy, Vergers, those who work in the Gift Shop and members of the Congregation. I have tried to imbue the drawings with life and light, paying particular attention to details of skin texture, and colour, emphasising lines and creases in the skin. I want to place particular focus on the eyes.
 There is a passage in scripture that I have in mind relating to this. It comes from Luke 11: 34 – 36, where Jesus says “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light, but when they are bad, your whole body is full of darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you”.
I have found that in making this series of drawings, my work has taken on a new direction. Whereas previously I worked from photographs in magazines, predominantly of young and smooth skinned models, I am now working from photographs of people that I have a connection to, with all the character of a life lived in their faces.
I aim to continue making work in this vein and have plans to make two drawings, each twice the size of these, to be included in a group exhibition by Luneside Studios in the gallery at the Storey throughout July and August 2016.
With the kind help of Paul Mullineaux, I now have a website and publicity leaflet about myself, which can be found in the Church. If you would like to contact me or view more examples of my work, my website is  I would gladly take commission requests.
I would like to thank Reverend Chris Newlands for organising this Residency and giving me such encouragement as well as all the people I have drawn for their bravery posing for such large scale portraits, also Tom, Assistant Verger for his help hanging the exhibition.
 Cathy Wilson

Click here to see the pictures.