When I was asked by Fabrica Gallery to make some of my linocut prints in relation to their last exhibition for their new shop, I was over the moon. I have been working with the gallery in various freelance roles over the past four years, and it is an incredibly special place to me, and so essential to the artistic community here in Brighton.
Fabrica is also a registered charity, with several outreach programmes working with specific groups such as older folks suffering from social isolation, low income families, or people with different degrees of complex needs.
The exhibition on show was Kiosk, which explored religion, and I was asked to respond to it through three different prints.
Thinking about contemporary spiritual practices, and the assimilation of Yoga as a practice in modern life in the UK, I wanted to illustrate a modern woman practising in a calming environment. Yoga has undeniably good effects on our physical and spiritual wellbeing.
Fabrica, the current exhibition, and my own relationship with religion made me remember why I was so excited by the concept of an art gallery in a deconsecrated church, and why I instantly decided to volunteer here. I am Romanian, and in our Christian - orthodox religion, women are not allowed behind the altar in churches as we are deemed to be too “unpure”. I believe this connotation comes from the original sin, as well as I imagine more practical reasons in older times, of the dangers of soiling that holy ground during our monthly cycle.
As a kid I was therefore fascinated by what could be behind there. The Fabrica altar is the first altar I have ever been allowed to walk through, and it felt so surreal. I wanted to draw a figure with orthodox symbolism, against the Fabrica altar stained glass windows to tell this story. There are other things women are not allowed to do in our religion. You are not allowed to enter a church on your period, you are not able to become a priest. And women are viewed to be generally there to serve the men in their families, as Eve was made after Adam, and from him.
I hated the implication that women cannot talk to God, which is probably why I became an artist, as it is a spiritual practice in its own right (for me, anyway).
How there is such animosity towards women in this religion, when a woman gave birth to the Son of God I do not know. It is also interesting that there are a lot of female saints, yet we are not allowed to undertake priesthood. So, women are either “unpure” or the epitome of purity, but in any case, not in any positions of power over men. I also tried to mimic the colour of “voronet blue”, a type of pigment found in a well-known monastery in Romania, Voronet Monastery. This medieval pigment has survived since the 1400s and famously cannot be replicated with pigments of today.
Fabrica Building Print
Finally, it was only fitting to make a print of the building that Fabrica resides in, which used to be The Holy Trinity Church.
With the Kiosk being set up in a deconsecrated Catholic Church it gives viewers other connotations to consider, and I wanted to hint towards this relationship by making a print of the hosting building.
It has been lovely to learn about the features of the building, and the history of the makers involved, such as the tradition of the stained-glass windows. The Fabrica Past, Present, Future project and blog provides more information about the unique features of the building and was a wonderful reference when making this print.
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