I recently completed a commission of two altar cloths for the historic church of St. Martin’s in the Bull Ring, Birmingham, one for the High Altar and the second for the smaller everyday altar. The commission was looking for pieces that reflected St. Martin’s congregation and the community it serves.
St. Martins history, mirrors the development of Birmingham as a settlement and evolution as an ethnically & culturally diverse community. St. Martins serves a wide and diverse community of both established residents, new & transient people, new to the city and country.
Each altar cloth is an abstract textured design in felted merino wool incorporating a graduated range of rich shades of a single colour in suitable ecclesiastical colours. Shimmering threads, sparkling yarns and fabrics run through the felted wool to echo the St. Martins community.
The threads, yarns & fabric interwoven in the wool represent the drawing together and bonding of the diverse community & congregation of the church community. The shaft of lighter fibres at the centre of the altar cloths along side the shimmering fibres and fabrics, represents the light of God, the faithful and hope, lighting a path to faith and healing.
The use of felting as a process to create the cloths holds significance, as the process takes physical effort to bond, enmesh and pull the tangling fibres into one united fabric, reflecting the drawing together and bonding of the St. Martins community.