The Journey

In 'The Journey', a key work of 1986, I was concerned to create a complex compendium of paintings that could be read at a number of different levels. As well as a representation of the journey down from Buxton to Manchester or London with references to those relatively superficial experiences of gazing out of the carriage window and seeing the everyday activities of people in the hills, fields and back-gardens we passed by, a vision of those things that make a city for me, the bustle and excitement, the grand architecture of cathedral, museum and art gallery, hotels, tenements, and the shadow side of the red light district, it should also include a reference to an interior journey, related to the archetypal snake that has figured so potently in my dream life and in some sense it should be a self portrait.

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Saint Matthew I - Chapters 1 & 2: The Genealogy, Birth and infancy of Jesus Christ.

For me the Genealogy forms a Porte Royale to the Gospel. It is a sonorous short hand for the history of the Jews starting with Abraham and Isaac. While listing the male line it includes references to the outstanding and frankly challenging women, usually non-Jews, who have contributed a human richness to the line. I saw that line as a river that flowed giving a shape to the six paintings. Coming to the conception and birth of Jesus I was acutely aware of Mary’s passionate love of God and Joseph’s love of Mary. Then comes the shadow that presages the end of the gospel, Jesus’ crucifixion, death and resurrection. There is an extraordinary architecture of symmetry to Matthew’s Gospel that I find miraculous and which convinced me that it was St. Matthew’s Gospel I wished to be my Magnum Opus.

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Saint Matthew IIa - Chapters 3 & 4: John the Baptist, the Baptism of Christ and the Beginning of Jesus' Mission.

The idea of a river connecting the appearance of John the Baptist, - the return of the Prophet Elijah - and the baptism of Christ organises the size and proper hanging of these paintings. I saw John and Jesus’ decision to site the rebirth of the Jewish race in the Jordan Valley, the northern end of the Great Rift Valley in the south of which the human race was born, as highly significant. The sequence ends with the Baptism of Jesus and the Father’s affirmation of His beloved Son. This is followed by the Temptations in the Desert which end with the Angels ministering to Jesus and His starting of His ministry of proclaiming the Kingdom of God to the Jews and calling His first disciples.

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Saint Matthew IIb - Chapters 5 to 7: The Sermon on the Mount.

The words: ‘Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill and sat down…’ with which the Sermon on the Mount begins were, for me, pregnant with depth and meaning for they focused on the inspiration for the Beatitudes as coming from those very crowds. I was and am deeply aware of His appreciative, passionate and listening love for humanity, nature and the whole of creation and that provided the central panel around which the different beatitudes should be arranged. The various teachings then align themselves with the Lord’s Prayer as their apogee. I see our total and dependent nakedness before God as the ultimate aim, our call to the perfection of the Father.

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Saint Matthew III - Chapters 8 to 10: Jesus descends from the mountain and through miracles of healing and with His Deciples preaches the mysteries of the Kingdom.

Though Matthew sees an overarching plan to Jesus’ miracles of healing, for me those healings come from a passionate heart that responds spontaneously to the needs of the people He meets on His journey to the cross which ever hangs as a dark shadow in the background. The disciples are assembled, instructed and commissioned. Their mission is exclusively to the Jews which, inevitably, is challenged as it is in the healing of the Centurion’s servant.

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Saint Matthew IV - Chapters 11 and 12: John the Baptist, My yoke is easy and the challenge to the Jewish authorities.

The shape, structure and meaning of the Kingdom of God is further explored from the witness and mission of John the Baptist, through the open arms of the Father’s unconditional love and healings which challenge the Jewish authorities particularly as regards their attitudes to the keeping of the Sabbath. I found in Jesus’ confrontation with the Jewish authorities who set the law above charity a challenging lesson for today’s institutional church.


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The Green Cycle

For me, as for so many people, the cycle of the seasons and nature in general has, for as long as I can remember, been a supremely important and vitalising experience of my life. From the first tender and urgent thrustings of spring through the rich fullness of summer to the quiet song of autumn leading to the bitter loneliness of winter I am challenged, warmed, invigorated and exposed to my humanity. This living earth dance swings me through all my moods and I grow in understanding that God, passionate and green, is at the centre of that dance.


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Other Work

In addition to the cycles and themes that have formed a framework for most of his work Peter has over the years painted other subjects.



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Woodcut— a relief printing technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed. The surface is covered with ink by rolling over the surface with an ink-covered roller, leaving ink upon the flat surface but not in the non-printing areas. Limited edition prints are then produced by impressing the block on to the media.



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