Now in its sixth year, the annual Stations Of The Cross Exhibition takes place at the Wesley Uniting Church In The City from Saturday, March 28, until Monday, April 6. We speak to one of the exhibiting artists, Michael Doherty, about his contribution.
It’s one of the central stories of the Christian faith: The Stations Of The Cross, depicting the condemnation, torture and execution of Jesus Christ, has been a subject of countless works of art over the past two millennia. For the past six years it’s been the theme of a yearly exhibition put on by Wesley Uniting Church, which invites 15 contemporary artists to each contribute their interpretation of one of the stations.
A professional painter for some 35 years – he studied at Claremont Art School – Michael Doherty is a veteran of 15 solo shows and has two upcoming international exhibitions he is preparing for – a group show in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a solo show in New York City. He says he was quite honoured to be approached to participate.
“I got approached about a year ago to paint one for it,” he explains. “It’s a big honour to be in it and it’s a fantastic show for painters, because it forces you to go quite deeply into your own sense of mortality and makes you really think about that.”
Doherty’s own experience with religion informed his creative choices, but so did his understanding of the legacy of the Stations. “I was brought up Roman Catholic – Irish parents – so in childhood I went to church and I understood the stations of the cross, but I approached it by researching the lineage of artists who have done the Stations Of The Cross, like the Flemish painters and the Italian Renaissance. I looked for something a little different.”
His take on his assigned station, Christ Falls For The Third Time, puts a very modern, almost surrealist spin on the subject t hand, juxtaposing ancient statuary with computer imagery in a church-like space. “I found an old stone head of what Christ might have looked like. I wanted to give it a sense of weight, like a stone head falling in a room. I’ve also tried to put it into a more contemporary context,” he tells us.