Seen/Unseen - a new exhibition at Chelmsford Cathedral

Launching on 12th September, the Cathedral welcomes a new exhibition by textile artist, Pauline Medinger.

The two pieces, 'What is seen cannot be unseen' and 'Reborn', will both be at the Cathedral for three weeks.

'What is seen, cannot be unseen' was conceived and produced during the early months of 2021 in response to the Covid pandemic. As a “clinically extremely vulnerable” person Pauline had been feeling, in common with many other people at this time, a degree of anxiety for herself and for beloved family members.  This led her to consider the plight of other people who may have felt anxiety, even great fear, stress and worry, due to the unforeseen circumstances in which they found themselves. 

During the epidemic, people have worn masks to protect their airways and lungs.   Some may have wished for a mask to protect their minds and hearts from sights which once seen cannot be unseen.

The viewer of the first piece is confronted with the anguished face of a woman, holding her head in her hands, tearing at her hair.  She is at the limit of her endurance.  The mask may protect her eyes from witnessing further ordeals but the trauma to her mind has already been done.  She will need something more than herself to fully heal.

This artwork is deliberately stark - black and white.  Stitching briskly with sharp movements, threads are deliberately fragmented and in places broken or cut short. The free-machine stitched thread lines “draw the dark”.  The companion piece to this artwork (“Reborn”) draws the light.

'Reborn' was also conceived and created in the early months of 2021 during the Covid pandemic, it was at a time when Pauline found things that were difficult to cope with in her life.  People ask, “How can God allow this pandemic to happen?”   She had no answer.  But does know that for her, the answer to a way out of the pain she was feeling was twofold: She had to allow herself to accept the love and help from the people that God had put in her path and crucially she needed to take a step closer to God.  She had more time to be still.  She had more time to pray. She had more time to listen and to be inspired to create.

When creating this work, first calmly drawing and then slowly and rhythmically stitching, Pauline forgot everything around her.  The background is painted a calming blue-green, representing water and cleansing and renewal.  The face subtly shines with blocks of golden stitches “stitching the light”.  There are still incomplete areas and imperfections (as there are in all of us) but the subject is, at this moment, at peace.

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