For the last few months a small group of dedicated needle workers have been sewing together a series of triangles in shades of gold, blues and greens. This is the foundation of the new altar cloth for St Mary’s, designed by Roger Wagner. About two years ago Roger offered us a design for a possible frontal. The Vicar and Churchwardens and the PCC were all delighted by it. We had first to get the necessary permission from the Diocese, and then we needed to find a group of people who would be prepared to take on the difficult task of translating design into reality.
Roger’s design echoes the kinds of pavements that can be seen in churches in Venice, and also, interestingly, in Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral, dating, like our
church, from the thirteenth century. The base is a patchwork of triangles, but over it are scattered appliquéd designs based on the crosses seen on the walls of Iffley church, etched there by the Bishop on the day the Church was consecrated in 1160. The idea behind the design is that the cloth should be a representation of the Resurrection – a central burst of golden light scattering out into the surrounding darkness and transforming it. As people enter the church at the West End their eyes will be drawn to the East by the light falling on the different shades of gold.
So over the autumn a group of people in Wolvercote and Iffley have been making the patchwork base of the cloth. We have now reached the point where the triangles have been stitched together into circles and semi circles. One Saturday in January we put them all together, and for the first time began to get an idea of how the final cloth will look. The next process is to secure the triangles to the base fabric, and then add the appliquéd cross designs. In the pictures you can see a mock up of the cross that will hang in the centre. There will be four of these, one for each liturgical season, as can be seen in the original design at the top. Each completed cross will be covered in glass mosaic in the colour appropriate for the season.