A Durham church is celebrating this Easter with a new piece of community art depicting the first person to witness Jesus’ resurrection.
Local volunteers at St Mary Magdalene Church in Belmont, Durham have put in more than 400 hours of work to create the first of three life-size artworks of Mary Magdalene telling the disciples what she saw on the first Easter day.
The artwork was shown to children from Belmont CE Primary School at two services held on Maundy Thursday. The story of Jesus’ resurrection and the significance of the artwork in telling that story was explained to the children during the services.
The Belmont Church is named after Mary Magdalene, one of the women who was among Jesus’ disciples.
The Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, Vicar of St Mary’s Belmont said: “The idea of a new piece of community art for the church was first raised three years ago, and quickly took hold.
“It turned out that a member of the community, Jean McGranaghan, is talented textile artist and she agreed to design and mastermind the project. Over the next year, another two pieces will join the first to create a triptych depicting Mary Magdalene and all 12 disciples.”
Mary Magdalene was the first person to witness Jesus raised from the dead on the first Easter day, and was told by him to go and give the good news to the other disciples – leading the early church to name her ‘Apostle to the Apostles’.
Revd Miranda adds: “For much of history Mary Magdalene was thought of badly and her central role in the story of Easter was almost forgotten. We thought it would be great, in a church named after her, to create a new piece of community art which celebrates her as the great woman she was, and as the inspiration to all of us to tell the Easter story.
“As a diocese our priorities are very much based on Church growth and focus on Children and Young People so it seemed fitting that on Maundy Thursday we could invite children to see the new artwork and to hear the story of Holy week from Palm Sunday to Easter Day.”
The traditional North East craft of hooky matting was used to create the artwork, and mainly recycled fabrics were used in its construction. The team are very grateful to the local council who gave a grant for the cost of the hanging and backing materials, and to the textiles experts at the Bowes museum who gave advice on how best to hang the finished piece.