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Stations of the Cross [Paperback]

Sara Maitland
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 Mar 2009
This is a fascinating collaboration of compelling human stories by a well-known author with powerful contemporary paintings by a high-profile artist. Sara Maitland's compelling human stories give voice to Chris Gollon's powerful contemporary sequence of "Stations of the Cross" (painted from life and reproduced in the book in high-res colour images): a unique and potent collaboration. The Stations were commissioned for St John on Bethnal Green, a visually prominent London Anglican church designed by Sir John Soane, the neo-classical architect who also created the Bank of England and the Dulwich Picture Gallery. In 2001 the congregation made the extraordinary decision to commission a site-specific "Stations of the Cross", the traditional 14 pictures of the last day of Jesus' human life, used from the Middle Ages onwards for meditation and prayer.Perhaps unexpectedly, they chose a contemporary artist not best known for his religious works: Chris Gollon. By Easter 2008 the whole series was completed; the sequence was first used on Good Friday when the pictures gained considerable media attention. The commission for the Stations has taken 8 years to fulfil and they have been widely featured in national broadsheets, arts press and all denominations of religious arts press. The paintings are now reflected in a sequence of stories: first-person narratives by a well-known author who has been closely involved with the project.

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Stations of the Cross + The Stations of the Cross + Journeying with Jesus: Contemporary Reflections on the Stations of the Cross and Resurrection: The Mowbray Lent Book 2013
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Product details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum (16 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826405681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826405685
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'The prose is vivid, arresting, sharp, tender, harrowing... I intend to read this book every Holy Week from now on.' --The Church Times

'If we follow these pictures and stories, they will deepen our prayers and enrich our spiritual life.' --The Door

About the Author

Sara Maitland was born in 1950. Her first novel Daughter of Jerusalem won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1979. Since then she has written five more novels and has published five collections of short stories.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Visual and Literary Inspiration 2 May 2009
I first discovered Chris Gollon's "Stations of the Cross" series online, and found the haunting and strangely beautiful paintings a great aid to Holy Week devotions. I then discovered this book, which would be well worth the price for either the reproductions of his art, or the text of Sara Maitland, alone. The images are powerful, disturbing and refreshing, as they draw one into a new reflection upon this traditional meditation: as Maitland points out, Gollon's art is perhaps the more powerful because he paints from outside the mainstream tradition, as the outsider. His use of family members and friends as models is poignant: he is quoted as saying that using his son as the model for Christ, and painting his corpse in the tomb, was the most difficult thing he has done. Character leaps out of the illustrations - particularly, for me, Simon of Cyrene (station 5 and the book's cover) and Veronica (station 6), and the suffering of Christ and Mary is shown in an uncompromising way. Grotesque figures appear, particularly in the early stations: they work surprisingly well alongside his realism elsewhere. Yellow skies draw us to infinity; cursor-spears point us to the agony. Sara Maitland's contribution complements the art superbly: she offers an interesting introduction explaining something of the development of this devotion, and the decision by the church of St John on Bethnal Green to commission this work; and she closes with some final reflections. Each station is accompanied by a dramatic monologue in prose form, utilising the characters within and beyond the frames of the pictured stations. She accomplishes this with great artistry, speaking in different voices which all enhance our entering into the story. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking 17 Feb 2012
By SueW
When I first looked at the pictures in this book I didn't like it.
The figures were too ugly. I felt offended and nearly sent it back.
However, I persevered and the stories and pictures brought out not only the horror of the Cross but also the beauty of Christ's sacrificial love. Sara Maitland's writing illuminates the pictures
in a way that is simple yet not lacking depth and is certainly not
sentimental. I also liked the comments of people's reactions to the
paintings which followed every story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Dr. R. Brandon TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully produced and interesting little book. I have to admit to not being very religious and I bought this book because it contains the fourteen Stations of the Cross, painted by Chris Gollon, which now hang in the Grade I listed nineteenth century church of St John, Bethnal Green. Each illustration is accompanied by a short story of just a few pages by Sara Maitland. The stories seek to evoke the scene at each Station from the point of view of various witnesses; these are not written in a pious way but are very contemporary in style, at times even slightly raunchy. As I constructed each scene in my mind's eye from the painting and text I have to admit to being somewhat moved and prompted to think about this momentous event more deeply, something which for me was quite unexpected.
The paintings of Chris Gollon have a very robust realism and clearly portray the agony and grotesque nature of the crucifixion. He used members of his family, his agent and the Reverend Green himself as models in the various scenes.
The stories are well written, the paintings very well reproduced and the afterword by the Reverend Alan Green is most interesting as are the eclectic comments at the end of each story largely from members of the congregation. This book is highly recommended even for readers who are not naturally of a religious disposition.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Things to ponder 6 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I liked some of the paintings which were more realistic than most Stations of the Cross. i liked the way Sarah Maitland took each character in the story and told it from that perspective
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stations of the Cross 22 April 2011
I purchased this book a month ago and I have just finished it today-Good Friday near midday. It is a powerful,human account which catches your breath and makes you want to reach out to help. All of humanity, past present and those yet to be are there encompassed within these stations and as much as we wish we cannot remove ourselves from the group. This brings home the knowledge that Yes He died for my sins and can help us to change to be more like Him. Read this book and pass it on to a friend and you will be doing them a good turn.
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