They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A remarkable Bible Advocacy project in the heart of Glasgow combining paintings and Biblical text is impacting lives.
The Gospel Sketchbook project, based in St George’s Tron Church in Glasgow, seeks to produce 24 paintings, each one linking a chapter of Luke’s gospel with life in the city. Now at its halfway point, the paintings on display are already making a difference.
The first painting, Our Last Supper, continues to make an impact nearly three years after it was first painted. Featuring clients of Glasgow City Mission as models for the disciples, it is a modern rendering of the Last Supper. In placing some of Glasgow’s most vulnerable and overlooked citizens at the table with Christ, the painting gives dignity and value to lives which are precious to God, humans made in the image of God.
The recent publication of The Portrait Gospel, a beautifully produced edition of Luke’s gospel featuring the Our Last Supper canvas on the front cover, and an introduction from the artist I.D.Campbell, is creating renewed interest.
In Easter of this year, Glasgow City Mission distributed 1,000 copies to clients, and many folk have made a visit to St George’s Tron to see the painting for themselves, and to seek out the artist.
One lady, having asked, “are you I.D.Campbell?” went on to say, “I’ve read your book”. The artist was quick to point out that, while he’d written an introduction to the book outlining the project, this was in fact God’s book. The conversation was a glimpse into the simple but effective impact of gospel distribution, and of the power of art to draw people into the Biblical text.
In St George’s Tron each of the paintings has both the Biblical text, on which the painting is based, and the story of how the painting connects to the text.
By far the most talked about canvas is a painting of someone undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Entitled, Do Not Worry, it features Fiona Morrison, an elder at St George’s Tron, who allowed I.D.Campbell to paint her while she received treatment last year. The seemingly universal experience of cancer draws people to the picture.
However, as they come closer, they see stencilled across the canvas flowers and birds, which reference Jesus words in Luke 12: symbols of God’s care and provision is the midst of difficulties. On two recent occasions, the artist recalled “grown men breaking down in tears” as they encounter the painting and the Biblical text.
Accompanying each painting are a series of outstanding films, produced by Ross Wiseman, a filmmaker who also works at St George’s Tron’s Wild Olive Café. Churches throughout Scotland are using the films to bring the project to their own congregation.
One of the best ways to allow this project to impact your wider community is to order and distribute copies of The Portrait Gospel where you live.
Copies of the Portrait Gospel are available to purchase at St George’s Tron Church of Scotland on Buchanan Street in Glasgow or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.