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Stations of the Cross Commission - 14 Paintings for St Joseph Cathedral Abu Dhabi, UAE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In January 2014 I was approached about the possibility of creating a series of paintings of the Stations of the Cross for St Joseph's Cathedral, Abu - Dhabi.

St. Joseph's Cathedral is located near the intersection of Airport Road (Street 2) and Seventeenth Street. 

In October 1963 work began for the first Church in Abu Dhabi and the foundation stone was blessed in February 1964, on a plot of land along the present Corniche, donated by H.H. Sheikh Shakbut, the ruler of Abu Dhabi at that time. Fr. Barnabas Madii undertook the task of constructing the Church and a residence for the priests and on February 19, 1965 the first Church was inaugurated.

On 19 March 1981, the foundation for the present Church was laid, following the Ruler’s decision that the Church and its associated schools be moved to a different location. The inauguration of the new complex took place on 25 February 1983, in the presence of Sheikh Shakbut.

The parish today has over 100,000 expatriate Catholics from all over the world. With the growing economy within the region, the Church has also witnessed a steady increase in the number of faithful. Masses are celebrated in several different languages and the Church is generally seen packed to full capacity at most services.

A major section of the parish complex was demolished at the beginning of 2013 to give way for the construction of new halls/catechetical rooms/offices/residence for priest's and staff.

Initially I was commissioned to create Station 8: Christ speaks to the women of Jeruselem. Father Muthu was keen that the whole congregation would have the opportunity to decide if the artwork would work for the Cathedral.

 

I was delighted that Father Muthu and the congregation decided that I was the artist for the commission and 13 further painting s were completed in August 2014.

This has been an exceptional commission on many fronts - I spent 10 years living in Abu Dhabi from the age of 10 till I was 20. We attended the original St Joseph's church on many occasions so it was particularly significant that, despite Father Muthu being unaware of my past - my past had come full circle.

When you set out to create such an important series of work  - it becomes a spiritual creative journey, and it has been a very moving experience to spend time contemplating this extraordinary narrative - and particularly at a time of such destruction and current religious turmoil in our World.

Thank you Father Muthu and the congregation of St Joseph's Cathedral for allowing me to undertake this breath taking commission - I am deeply grateful and I shall look forward to visiting St Joseph's Catherdral some time soon to see the artworks in their final home.

Please click here to visit the Stations of the Cross Gallery to see the 14 paintings

I have been very touched by the many generous comments and responses that I have received about this series of artworks, thank you very much indeed your tremendous support is hugely appreciated, here are just a few of them:

Paul Doherty (Bahrain): Beautiful, emotive work. A superb collection.
Naomi Duffree (London): Wonderful Rachel. The colours, expressions and textures

Paul Treacy (London): Wow! Your work never fails to impress me Rachel! Incredible, absolutely stunning!
Rene Landry (USA) Rachel, you have been blessed with a very special talent that reaches beyond the painting.....namaste.
Jennifer Paterson Jonas (Canada): Extraordinary - very moving paintings.
Corinne Badcoe (Surrey): As a mum I find 'your'  Jesus very moving . His whole pain, destiny , sorrow are painted but also a sorry to his mum to be not like anyone else... Which is hard to take for her... It's very beautifully expressed Rachel.

Serena Morton (Bournemouth): Just awesome and truly amazing work! You are unbelievably gifted, Rachel Gadsden! Brings tears to my eyes! 
Christine Farquhar (Scotland): You take us straight to the heart of his conflicts, what it is doing to his very soul, what is etched so painfully on his face, deep in his eyes and in his very cheek bones. It is a very long time since I helped my father try to explain the stations of the cross to the different age groups of his Sunday school. He died just over two years ago and your beautiful inspiring work brings some strange joy to the sad but more importantly wonderful memories of such times.

Elly Wright (Surrey): Very rich. Love the way you work them.
Sunanda Docherty (Scotland): Magnificent Rachel
Michele Taylor (Nottingham): "Love Rachel Gadsden's work, and these are simply wonderful"