christ writes in the dust:

  • Christ Writes in the Dust: The Woman Caught in Adultery, commissioned from me for the Methodist Collection of Modern Art, was unveiled at the Barber institute in Birmingham on Tuesday. Those who had gathered for the occasion were warmly welcomed by the Director of the Barber, Dr Ann Sumner, and then John Gibbs introduced the proceedings prior to the unveiling. About twenty people were present, including John and Margaret Taylor, who funded the acquisition for the collection as a celebration of their golden wedding anniversary. After the unveiling there was an open question session during which I explained a little of the genesis of the painting, and then we had  a glorious lunch in the University. It was a wonderful occasion and I greatly enjoyed it. My thanks to Dr Sumner’s P.A. Mary McCullough for arranging everything so meticulously, and particularly for organising a parking place outside the Institute so that we were able to unload the painting with ease.
  • We had set off at 8 am in order to be at the Barber in time for the 11 am start. Peter drove while I read the map and tried to relax. I’d completed the painting at 2.30 am and the last session at the easel was a massive seventeen hours long, after which I put it into its frame and wrapped it ready for the journey. I made it through the day perfectly well, though I’m paying for it now.
  • Having struck a deal with the devil, Dorian Gray kept a painting of himself hidden in the attic. The portrait steadily decayed while his person remained eternally youthful and beautiful. Of course it all ends badly! I have an opposite situation here. I make paintings into which I pour everything, while the physical body gets more shadowy and worn thin from all the effort. Seventeen hours! I tell you, it nearly killed me. I won’t be doing anything like that again in a hurry.

33 thoughts on “christ writes in the dust:

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  4. I unpacked the Methodist Art Collection today – and boy were some of the casings heavy! However I was like a kid in a sweet shop – so much fabulous art and I was allowed to handle it – just fabulous. It was like having my own private collection – well I can dream…

    It was fab to see your work here on the website, but oh so much better to have it in front of me. I’m always surprised with the size of the art (I have the measurements but the brain always thinks smaller). The colours of all the art pieces are just so much more vibrant in the flesh. Tomorrow we finish hanging it all. I feel very honoured to be in such esteemed art company. On Saturday we open with me doing an introductory talk at 12. I’ll send you some photos through. Not sure about copyright on the other art but I’ll certainly get one of yours with the labyrinth in shot.
    best wishes

    • Hello Jacqui. Glad to hear that the exhibition has safely arrived. Glad too that Christ Writes in the Dust did not disappoint. Yes, please do send images if you can. I’d love to see the painting in situ.

      Good luck with the opening on Saturday. I’m off to a wedding but I’ll be sure to think of you at noon.


      • We had about 20 at my opening talk to introduce the collection and despite my nervousness it was really well received. There were a steady stream of people all morning which bodes well for the rest of the exhibition.

        I thoroughly enjoyed having the art there to talk about and refer to. We spent a long time by Christ writes in the Dust with lots of discussion about how relevant it is to today’s society as well as in a religious context. They liked the naughty boys starting point as well!

        So again, thank you for all your hard work in creating this piece Clive it is being well appreciated here.

  5. If anyone is near Chislehurst in Kent from the 17th September 2011 we have around 30 pieces of the Methodist Art Collection (including your painting) with us for six weeks. I am compiling a booklet to help visitors read the paintings rather than just give a list of details about the artists, which I hope will be thought provoking to the viewer and help them explore the art works. I had searched for an image of this piece as it is really difficult to write my own thoughts from someone else’s facts. Thank you so much for posting the image here and to everyone for their thoughts which I have enjoyed reading. I hope I can do it justice, I am looking forward to seeing it. Thank you for sharing your gift Clive.

    • Hello Jacqui-with-who-I-share-the-name-of-Hicks!

      A good idea to have posted your note about the Methodist exhibition here, because just as you presumably used Google as a signpost to the Artlog, others looking for this painting by title may end up seeing your comment and as a consequence find their ways to Chislehurst. Interestingly I’ve noticed a lot of traffic on this page over the summer months, something I assumed was the result of the painting having been shown in my retrospective exhibition at the Gregynog Gallery of the National Library of Wales where many saw it, and afterwards at Greenbelt, where a reported seven thousand visitors passed through the gallery. (Seven thousand!)

      Jacqui, good luck with the writing. Please contact me should you need any more information. You can send an e-mail to me at: my full name joined up without gaps and without the hyphen, followed by

      I’d like to see what you come up with, if you feel able to send it to me. Once a painting leaves the studio it goes on its own journey, and I find it interesting thereafter to read/hear what others make of it. Useful too, as in this way I have sometimes discovered new ways to look at my own work.

      You don’t say where in Chislehurst the exhibition is showing. Do write back to tell.

      All the very best.

  6. Have been in NYC, Clive, so I’m late to congratulate you on this wondrous new work. I’m very impressed with the way you dealt with the noose and hair, and controlled the fields of the painting through the use of warm and cool color – it’s masterful, I can’t imagine how you figured it out! Not to mention the abstraction of shapes. This is very very beautiful.

    • I hope you had a wonderful time in New York Beth. Thank you for your comments about the adulterous woman. This painting had been gestating for so long that by the time I got going on it, I sort of knew where I was hoping to end up. Crucial to its development was a little drawing of Montclar in Catalonia that I did last year when we were staying there at the home of our friends Richard and Montserrat. That gave me the composition that would knit everything together, and then it was a matter of locking down the figures of Christ and the woman, and those were worked through in separate, detailed grisaille studies. Relatively late in the day I decided to use mirror images of the two, their shapes almost interlocking. There’s the briefest sketch for the gathered men in the lower third of the painting, and the only part of it that caused me any hesitation was finding the right path for the rope halter, so that it didn’t cross or overlap anything crucial. Another ‘dry-run’ that helped smooth the creation of the piece, was the painting done for the cover of the Old Stile Press Bibliography, published in 2010. The palette and the schematic approach to the landscape in that helped me define what I wanted for the later painting, and I also borrowed colour combinations, patterns of brushwork and pictorial effects… such as the leaves on forked branches… for the larger painting.

  7. Lovely to see, Clive.

    The landscape reminds me of a subtler look at the world in the Old Stile catalog commission in coloration and shape. Love the whole background as antithesis to the low crouchings and violence–the whole aspiring and upward-pointing scene with that gyring road, up to the tower, up to the sheep and then the little sheepy clouds. Marvelous shapes, and I love the way the two golden cedarish trees at her back suggest that the woman might sprout, at some distance yet, wings.

  8. I’ve been longing to see the completed painting. Breathtaking Clive.
    Love it.
    Colours sumptuous yet subtle.

    Its one of your paintings one can ‘watch’ – I feel as if I am a part of it.

  9. Wow Clive this is awesome painting. Thanks for posting the picture on line!
    No disrespect to working men with dogs, but the man holding the rope looks just as if he is a miner leading a whippet on a leash. Mind you it looks as if whatever Jesus said (written) has hit home, the accuser looks crushed and defeated, like the stone in his hand is now only fit to throw at himself….?
    Awesome composition, the lightness and airiness reminds me of El Grecos touch. I love how the construction gets more open and spatial the further it recedes. The 3 men are so flat. (thats not a criticism!) LOL those stiletto shoes look lethal, like aramalite bullets aimed right at their necks.

    PS Forgive me if this sounds cheeky, but would you be willing to do some photos of your flood lit photo shoot of this new painting, and possibly share a tip or 2? I have real problems photographing drawings, especially getting the light even.
    Cheers Jonathan

    • OK Jonathan. I’ll do that and send them to you. We have large lamps and we only shoot at night after dark, so that there’s no light spilling from anywhere else. We’ve got quite good at this now. No lamps facing the painting (which is up on an easel) but placed at the sides so that they don’t reflect on the surface. The trick is to get an even wash of light, which is never simple. We use diffusers over the lamps to help avoid hot spots. Anyway, I’ll send you some snapshots of the set-up that will better explain.

      • Thanks for that Clive, should prove to be very helpful! Graphite drawings in particular usually drive me to disraction with the almost metallic reflective effect, some parts end up looking look silver, others coal black….
        Cheers Jonathan

  10. It looks marvellous. I think the longest single stretch I spent on a painting was 14 hours so you have my respect! I know all too well that compulsion of “I must do this bit…then this bit…then this…”

    • John, I simply don’t know where the time went. That seventeen hours was spent just doing the figures at the front and painting one of Christ’s hands and his feet. But you’re right about the adjustments. I think I’ll make a little one here, and then… oh yes, I’d better strengthen that a bit… and so it goes on.

  11. sooooooooooooooooo beautiful! amazing! the colors, the shapes, the motion…the textures… wow!
    i love the little sheep, the finger-like plant, and the thin tree to the left, above the house. your christ is so striking, and so handsome!
    sorry about that 17 hours, but…thank you!

  12. Wow! Wasn’t it still sticky?!

    It’s quite astonishing, a marvellous thing. I like the way it gets fainter and bluer in the foreground, and richer and redder and more detailed as the scene recedes. I could look and look at it, and would love to see it for real. What are its dimensions? You’ve probably said somewhere, but I don’t recall. What an amazing thing to fund something like that for a collection as a celebration of a Golden Wedding. Congratulations all round.

    Get plenty of beauty sleep now, Dorian, and you’ll soon be right as rain again!

    • Lucy, it measures 112 x 82 cm.

      Yes, it was a lovely thought wasn’t it, to have commissioned this for such a special occasion. John and Margaret now have the grisaille study of Christ, so they’ve a reminder of the painting in their own home.

          • I accidentally hit “Post Comment” twice for one of my comments on the detail of this painting you posted last week… it was the one about dance.
            FYI.. don’t worry about it… I see all my recent comments landed as they should have.

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