Ghislaine Howard - Stations of the Cross/The Captive Figure
1 Jesus is Condemned to Death: John 13-16
Ecce Homo: Behold the Man in the moment of receiving his sentence, but who is the victim and who the conqueror? An image of stoical courage and passive resistance in the face of the unacceptable. The fallibility of human justice.
2 Jesus Receives His Cross: John 19:17
The expression of the solitary nature of Christ’s position, yet one shared by many. He stands alone against and within the crowd, receiving the instrument of his death that he must carry to the preordained end.
3 Jesus Falls for the First Time
The beginnings of the ordeal, the overwhelming effect of his burden is an expression of the frailty of our physical being and the need to endure mentally something beyond the capabilities of our human frame.
4 Jesus meets His Mother: John 19:25-27
Despite the physical closeness of others, Jesus is alone, even from His mother. Consider the evil of enforced separation from family, friends and all that was once familiar.
5 Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry His Cross
The gift of temporary relief, given by a stranger, the act of sharing another’s suffering.
6 Veronica Wipes the Face of Christ
A woman breaks from the crowd to help the victim, an outbreak of spontaneous charity. In the miracle of Christ’s image being impressed upon the cloth, the idea of the need to bear witness is made apparent.
7 Jesus Falls for a Second Time
The second falling, the reaching of the limits of endurance, the reality of suffering and the continuing need to endure.
8 Jesus Hears the Lamentation of the Women of Jerusalem
A demonstration of righteousness through direct action. The men are apathetic, even Simon has his intercession imposed upon him; the women act compassionately and actively in a determined manner.
9 Jesus Falls for the Third Time
The repetition of this act reminds us of the reality of the physical and mental effects of prolonged suffering. The human body, spirit and will are put under intolerable strain in a process dependent upon repetition and ritual.
10 Jesus is Stripped of His Garments: John 19:23-24
The final indignity as Jesus is made naked; stripped of his clothing, He becomes an object for derision, robbed of the respect that clothing brings.
11 Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
The obscenity of torture, shown here in the deliberate acts of extreme and premeditated cruelty sanctioned by law, custom and practice. It suggests the normality of torture, as an everyday professional action performed perfunctorily and even without deliberate malice as the perpetrator’s conscience is protected behind the mask of an institutionalised activity. However, even at this terrible moment hope asserts itself in the centurion’s realisation, ‘Certainly this was a righteous man’.
12 Jesus Dies on the Cross: John 19:18-36
Death; a life deliberately cut short; the extinction of a human life and the apparent extinction of hope.
13 Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross: John 19:38-40
Lamentation and grief, the inexpressible sadness of bereavement. Here at least, there is a corpse to mourn and the palpable evidence of a barbaric act.
It is through Howard’s moving embodiment of empathy that she really makes her mark. Her work is so intimately tender in approach it could hardly have been painted by any male at any time anywhere.
Images Copyright © 2010 Ghislaine Howard. Text Copyright © 2010 Michael Howard All rights reserved