Shortly after I started working at Chatsmore Catholic High School, I got into a discussion with Pete Byrne, the Headteacher, about the values of the school and how important the idea of a 'meta-narrative' is in helping people understand their place and value within history.
We were both in agreement that it might be a good idea to create a mural of some description that reinforced the Christian values of the school. In this post I am going to risk giving too much information as I document the stages that this piece of artwork went through.
Early drafting using abstract ideas, pencil sketches and a magic whiteboard.
Choosing the spot, detailed drafting of the first wordless version.
I parked the mural for about two months and got loads of feedback from various people. Thankyou all of you who contributed - students, friends, colleagues, family members. Apart from simplifying a few things and tightening the symbolism across the piece, one of the big changes was suggested by Pete Byrne - he was keen on a set of three Bible texts linked to the image.
Initially he was looking for something from the Old Testament and maybe a couple from the New. I suggested that we use one unifying text - the conversation that Jesus has with the disciples on the Emmaus road after his resurrection is a great moment because it draws together the whole sweep of Bible history - from Creation, Fall, Promises, Sacrifice, Prophecy, Fulfilment in Christ, the giving of the Holy Spirit and End Times.
Pete was a little unsure of this move - was it too intricate/involved for a school mural? Would it lose people? My own wife had already made the point that the entire image was probably too complicated to begin with - and here I was adding something that not many people were that comfortable with or knowledgeable about.
In the end we decided to go with this idea - and were happily backed by the Governors. My own view is that this image follows in the tradition of stain-glass windows: something that is rich in detail and provides something to ponder and reflect on. While I can happily elaborate on every detail of this sequence and make it clear what I intended, not everyone will see it in the same way - but that doesn't mean you can't have some depth!
And so I began work on version two - combining Bible text and image - it meant redrafting the entire thing, but in these steps I think the whole thing was improved as I channelled several weeks of feedback and settled reflection.
Final bits and pieces - oh and a radical overhaul using vectors...
I have written here extensively about my journey into using Affinity Designer. It is a long post that outlines my learning curve over the summer holidays. The upshot is that it was a good move and the end result is much much sharper.
I cycled early to school in the rain to see what the end result is like. My honest conclusion at the moment is that I have no objective distance on this. I see all the tiny things which could be improved or didn't look as good as I thought... it didn't take long to realise that I am overthinking this, and just need to step back. I have to leave it to breathe for a few months and see what people make of it.
A sincere thanks to all of the staff, students, governors, parents, friends and family who had any input into this project. I hope that it blesses you in some way.