The “People, Paper, Prayers – the Thank You Project” at Central Methodist Church in Letchworth in 2009, grew out of the architectural cut exhibition at First Garden City Heritage Museum. David and Anita Latter (senior members of Central Methodist church) came to see the exhibition on one of the days I was demonstrating. We got chatting animatedly - I had always liked Anita very much, and David too, but it was Anita that I knew from years ago when I took my son and daughter as babies to the Central Methodist Church Tea and Toddlers group. Anita was so friendly there and I was in awe of her commitment to the group by weekly preparing arty/crafty activities for the toddlers and mums to do. It took her a lot of time to prepare the components, to come up with new ideas etc and she did that every week. I admired her faith and generosity of spirit.
Anyway, we got talking. Laughed over times past and children now in teenagerdom (me) and hers in new homes and babies eras. I said that I had always wanted to make some paper pieces for a church. I had made textiles for churches before, but never had my cuts hung in that kind of space. I had tried at St. Hugh’s but they had bought a large icon for the refurbishment and my quirky paper cuts were just too much of a jump I think. It was interesting what I learnt then, let’s just say it lead me to really ask what I believe and who I am.
Back to the Anita/David talk. They were really interested in the idea of hanging the cuts in the church. It needed to be discussed with the main members of the church of course and happily the go ahead was given. I think it helped that the paper cuts are so light. They only need hanging with fishing wire and are very light, needing a drawing pin at most to hang from. We thought the Heritage Open Days Weekend would be a good focus for the event. It was very exciting for me... to see at last my cuts hanging free in a church. I couldn’t wait. I then spent a very large part of August cutting text in the studio in the early morning and the quiet times after the evening meal when the kids were happy to have some telly time.
The Thanksgiving theme...leading to a bit of a crisis of faith....
We needed a theme to work to too. I know I couldn’t make thirty unique prayers and besides I wanted to involve the parish. I wanted to be able to serve the parish, using my hands and skills to make their thoughts and prayers real and valued. David’s idea was to have thank you prayers and that fitted perfectly. I emailed friends for prayers, prayers came anonymously too from the congregation as well as very personal ones that moved me hugely. It was much harder than I thought. Look at most prayers and the content is plea based, asking God for something: help, guidance, company, healing or words that allowed inner individual pain to be expressed. This was different, this was saying thank you for what we have been given in our lives. I wanted to say thank you for my children and my family, for the elements – but it set me on a whole struggle that I am in now. Do I believe that God made me? Made the world? Made the trees and the birds of the air? I am not sure. I don’t know. Evolution makes a lot more sense and I know that Adam and Eve are essentially allegorical. I think perhaps that there is an ultimate creative force in the world from which all good comes. I know directly from experience that more good makes more good, whilst evilness and selfishness will always seek to destroy in many small and large ways. I find it terribly hard too grasp that that ultimate creative force became a man and lived on earth. For me it’s a human way of explaining the mysteries that our brains are just too small to understand.
I think you can say I am having a fundamental think about things, a crisis of faith in part. I certainly know that I am not a tow-the-line Catholic. I know there is something/someone calling me. It keeps happening. I walk away and I get called back and back again. This beatles song makes me think of being called again and again and its always when I feel lost.
I will shortly post the prayers I cut and hung in the church. It was a fantastic weekend and I got the chance to meet some really lovely people too. I will always be grateful top the church for showing my work, inviting me into a place that is so precious to them. It was a lovely, lovely experience.