Exhibition: Later Day Saints by Alan Birch
Location: West Yorkshire Print Workshop, Mirfield
Date: Until 11th February 2017
Details: Over the last four years I been working on a series of prints which take their starting point from the collection of saintly wood carvings in the Wellcome Collection at The Science Museum in London. The depiction of saints is a subject I have been long fascinated with, whether in paintings or adorning churches. Found in illustrations or adorning religious spaces, the power, durability and spirituality of these works has remained, strongly linked to faith. Originally used as comforting symbols for followers, the depicted icons offered hope and solace from medical and personal difficulties. A typical example being St. Apollonia, the patron saint of tooth problems, martyred by having her teeth pulled, and often depicted in illustrations having her teeth extracted.
The seed for this series was sown when the media reported that Roberto Mancini had been to church prior to the Manchester City game which secured the Premier League title. His prayers along with thousands of others (mine among them) were answered as the game was won against the odds. A sporting miracle! Even in these contemporary times faith and devotion are still strong. From this moment St. Last Minute, the patron saint of football fans was born. There followed 80 other monoprints, introducing Saints Kindle, Lotto, Tweetus and Selfie to a new audience. 26 prints have become etchings and hand-coloured dry-points. This transformation of the familiar encourages the spectator to take a second look at the work, be inquisitive and respond. The saints themselves, once figures and objects of devotion, are now featured holding or surrounded by modern objects of devotion. The series mirrors the modern day obsession we have with object and image. How many people can be seen worshipping St. Selfie, St. Facebook, St. Pit Bull or indeed St. Last Minute?