Why paint a picture of Mary Magdalene?


This painting took a long time.  I first had the idea for it back in June. I was doing a nude study of a beautiful ex ballet dancer. There was something about the way she sat, the poise and tension, which made me think of waiting. Waiting for something that was really important.    And I began to think of the day after Jesus’ death. Mary had seen her teacher and friend brutally killed. I think she would also have seen Him laid in the tomb. Then, at sunset, the Sabbath started and there was nothing she could do. 

The rules of Jewish society were very clear. No work at all could be done on the Sabbath. So, I imagined her going out of the city, maybe near to the tomb, and just sitting. She would have been shocked and grieving but not incapacitated. There was still work to do. She would need to return the next day to anoint the dead body of her friend. 

But why, in this era of identity politics, do a religious painting at all?  Well because this is my identity. It is neither cool or fashionable but it is real. The events at Passover some 2000 years ago still matter and make a difference to millions of people. The echoes of the death and resurrection still chime down the centuries. Visual art has always been an important expression of Christian faith. In my small way, I’d like to be part of that.