Sara Maitland's compelling human stories give voice to Chris Gollon's powerful contemporary sequence of Stations of the Cross (painted from life and reproduced in the book in high-res colour images): a unique and potent collaboration.
The Stations were commissioned for St John on Bethnal Green, a visually prominent London Anglican church designed by Sir John Soane, the neo-classical architect who also created the Bank of England and the Dulwich Picture Gallery. The church stands on the boundary between Hackney and Tower Hamlets and is therefore in one of the more deprived and multi-cultural areas of the UK.
In 2001 the congregation made the extraordinary decision to commission a site-specific Stations of the Cross, the traditional 14 pictures of the last day of Jesus' human life, used from the Middle Ages onwards for meditation and prayer (and established in their usual form by St Francis of Assisi, who is also credited with introducing the better-known Christmas crib scene - the two come out of the same spiritual tradition). Perhaps unexpectedly, they chose a contemporary artist not best known for his religious works: Chris Gollon.
By Easter 2008 the whole series was completed; the sequence was first used on Good Friday when the pictures gained considerable media attention. The commission for the Stations has taken 8 years to fulfil and they have been widely featured in national broadsheets, arts press and all denominations of religious arts press. The paintings are now reflected in a sequence of stories: first-person narratives by a well-known author who has been closely involved with the project.
Sara Maitlands first novel, Daughter of Jerusalem, won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1979. Since then she has written five more novels and has published five collections of short stories.
Stations of the Cross by Sara Maitland was published by Continuum in February 2009 and is our 23517th best seller. The ISBN for Stations of the Cross is 9780826405685.