A gift of 'light' from a retreatant
Published: 13 March 2019
An artwork named the Lamp and Lotus has been donated to The Sharpham Trust by a retreatant.
The sculpture is a triptych made from English Beech wood that opens to reveal a lotus flower carved in relief.
It is in the style of artist Edward Armitage Robinson and was given to The Trust by his former studio assistant Maurice Hopper (pictured right with the piece).
"I want the piece to be with people, and people who can gather something from it," said Maurice, who attended a Mindfulness for Beginners retreat in Sharpham House last year.
"To me, it's spiritual, not religious and I thought it fitted with what The Sharpham Trust is doing."
Maurice worked as studio assistant with Robinson - an Oxford graduate polymath whose life and work encompassed theology, botany, teaching abroad, researching at Kew Gardens and making art.
Robinson (pictured right) realised his concepts around the relationship between religious experience and the idea of ‘mystery' through sculpture. Robinson's triptychs, including the Sharpham gift, are designed to be exhibited closed, so that the viewer interacts with the piece and reveals the lotus inside.
As Robinson’s sight deteriorated, Maurice assisted him with his carving. He was working on the Lamp and Lotus at the time of Robinson's death in 2013, as part of the artist's series Forms of Silence. Just a few days before the artist died, he'd told Maurice to 'go deeper' with the carving.
The piece remained in Maurice's workshop, unfinished, until Maurice had the idea of completing the work and donating it to The Trust.
He oiled the wood on the inside to bring out the colour and the surface tooling, then polished the lotus and flame with wax. The painted black exterior was polished to add a sheen to the riven texture.
Other examples of Robinson's work have been gifted to places of worship, religious houses and hospices throughout Britain.
Art can be an embodiment, an incarnation, of a mystery: a mystery which is both concealed and revealed in all of the natural world
- Edward Armitage Robinson, 1921-2013