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Fabric art exhibit at Ely Cathedral tells the story of Creation

Artist Jacqui Parkinson is standing in front of Panel 10, “Two trees-two keepers” Genesis 2:8-9. Photo/Ely Cathedral

By Solange De Santis

Episcopal Journal and Cafe

Ely Cathedral, in Ely, England, is exhibiting “Threads Through Creation,” a collection of fabric art by textile artist Jacqui Parkinson that was inspired by Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

The show consists of 12 large, embroidered silk panels that explore the story of Creation. It runs through July 26 at Ely and is scheduled to tour a number of British cathedrals through 2024.

Panel 6, “Water and sky-splash with color!” Genesis 1:20-23.

Parkinson worked a combination of layers of silk, hand-dyed materials, metallic leathers and gold leaf, miles of thread – and more than eight million stitches.

The panels are 8′ high by as much as 13′ wide – and vary from bold elemental patterns illustrating the first days to highly complex, rich work as the story continues through the Garden of Eden.

“I start with antique bedsheets, which hold their own tales of life and death. I gradually build up my stories by quilting the sheets and painting them. Then I add layers of silk, which I stitch into place using a special free motion sewing machine which allows me to stitch my ‘drawings’. Then I add gold leaf and metallic leathers as finishing touches, overall creating great richness – a feast for the eye,” Parkinson is quoted as saying in material for the exhibition.

The project took three years, Parkinson explained on her website.

He added that “it’s an ancient story, but highly relevant today, with a message of hope – of God with us – and its call for us to care for our amazing world.”

Panel 12, “Goodbye to Eden” Genesis 3:11-24

“My aim is to capture the wonderful extravagance of the Creation story and to delight people who view it. Despite Adam and Eve’s fall from grace, it remains a story of love and promise, something we can all do with these days,” she added.

Ely Cathedral Dean Mark Bonney noted that Genesis “invites us into the wonder of God’s work in creation and helps us better understand our place within it.”

Parkinson’s work represents an “extraordinary re-telling of the creation story. With astonishing designs and colors, Jacqui’s work provides interest, enjoyment and spiritual insights,” Bonney said.

Parkinson has started a new fabric project, “Threads through the Cross,” planning to complete it in 2024. Scenes from Jesus’ life will be shown in 18 panels. More information is here.

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