Culture: Connecting Cultures

Article excerpt

Byline: Barbara Hodgson

CHINESE motifs have been introduced into a Sunderland church as part of a festival of art linking two remarkable cultures.

Pamela So has come up with a temporary artwork for St Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth as part of the Bede & Beijing festival.

The artist was commissioned by the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, whose team of glass experts realised her ideas.

They made a mirrored "cloth"for the church altar and etched intricate designs on hanging lamps.

Glasgow-born Pamela, who is of Chinese descent, incorporated plant and herb motifs familiar to both Chinese and Anglo-Saxon cultures into the cloth. Pamela likes to tailor her work to specific locations and their histories, and is keen to explore themes surrounding the integration of chinese art, design and horticulture into British culture.

For her new piece, she gave her cloth the appearance of linen, in a reference to the flax-growing and textile industry of northern European countries, where linen was highly valued and carried religious connotations of cleanliness being next to godliness.

Pamela, who graduated from Glasgow University and afterwards from Glasgow School of Art, said: The site at St Peter's has been inspirational.

"With the technical expertise available at the National Glass centre, my own ideas of using chinese cultural motifs have been enhanced by the use of mirrored glass.

"When combined with my rtwork, the mirror becomes an altar cloth, ethereal in appearance but at the same time having an enduring quality in keeping with the long history of the site."

To complement it, Pamela came up with the idea of Chinese variations on the vine scroll and its western equivalent being etched on the glass base of the suspended church lights. …