Beth Hamer - Along The River At The Arches In Glasgow

By Mark McLaughlin | 30 September 2002
Hamer's cast of Christ bearing the cross

Left: Hamer's cast of Christ bearing the cross.

Mark McLaughlin headed down to The Arches Art Centre in Glasgow to take in this fascinating exhibition.

Divine intervention has always played an important part in artistic and archaeological history.

So when up-and-coming artist Beth Hamer stumbled upon an old rubber mould in the image of Jesus, she must have suspected a guiding hand.

the artist with one of her extraordinary works

Right: the artist with one of her extraordinary works.

On display at The Arches in Glasgow until October 29th, Beth Hamer's 'Along The River' is a collection of six casts of the Stations of the Cross, created from 60-year-old moulds, uncovered at the remains of an old monastery.

The story behind their discovery is almost as fascinating as the moulds themselves.

"I was trying to find the source of the River Clyde," said Beth. "I thought it would be interesting to watch the river grow and change with the landscape.

according to the artist, the works "show that for something to be beautiful, it doesn't have to be perfect."

Left: according to the artist, the works "show that for something to be beautiful, it doesn't have to be perfect."

"On the last day of my journey, I stumbled on the remains of an overgrown garden - obviously belonging to an old house. All that was left of the house was a pile of debris. I had a look around and found a rubber mould buried beneath the rubble, and realised that it was an image of Jesus."

Beth, a 21-year-old environmental arts student at the Glasgow School of Art, later found out that the moulds had once been part of Craighead Retreat House, in Blantyre, once used as a monastery.

"The monks used to stop at each station and pray," said Beth. "The moulds are from around the 1940s, and are very old and brittle. There are 14 Stations of the Cross in total, and I've just recently uncovered the seventh but was unable to prepare it in time for the exhibition."

the setting of The Arches compliments the works beautifully.

Right: the setting of The Arches compliments the works beautifully.

Each Station, sacred to the Catholic faith, depicts a stage of Christ's crucifixion - from sentencing to his eventual laying in the tomb.

Beth, herself an abstract artist and sculptor, made casts from the moulds as she found them. Each cast is encrusted with the mud, soil and clay in which the moulds have lain for over half a century.

This emphasises the context in which they were found, and as Beth put it: "They show that for something to be beautiful, it doesn't have to be perfect."

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