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Adam, Eve and their descendents

By Bruce Spittle in All Sorts

the story behind the new artworks in the church depicting Adam and Eve and their descendents

Adam, Eve and their descendents
Before literacy was common the stories in the Bible were sometimes portrayed as pictures in Churches. As an example, the Armenian Cathedral in Isafahan, Iran, has all its walls and ceiling covered with paintings (photo below). In this tradition, the Leaders Meeting at Mornington recently accepted three art works as a gift from the Gibson family illustrating Adam, Eve and their descendents. They were painted by Waikouati artist Peter Gregory and the first two paintings were displayed in a tongue-in-cheek style 6000th birthday party for Adam and Eve at the Mornington
Church on Thursday 26 October 2000 with the minister, the Rev Dr Geoff King, officiating. The Eve painting was created first in 1994 and the Adam painting was made especially for the event in 2000. The third painting of Adam and Eve with future generations was created, with egg tempera, for Colin and Jeanette and given at Christmas 2003 with love from Peter, Laura, Woostle and Bonzie. in The ODT report on 27.10.20 recorded that Emeritus Professor Colin Gibson noted that the Bible did not record that any marriage ceremony ever took place between Adam and Eve and, as presumably their “later numerous children were all conceived out of wedlock,” he joked that steps were taken at the function to “posthumously legitimize their relationship.” The minister noted that humour played a significant part in the life of the parish. It was noted that the distinguished 17th century Irish biblical scholar Archbishop James Ussher calculated that Adam and Eve were created on October 26, 4000BC. Professor Gibson said that there was no intention of making Archbishop Ussher a “laughing stock,” although science had since shown the first humans existed much earlier that 6000 years ago. He said humour was “a very inmportant vehicle for teaching” about Adam and Eve and other stories. The three paintings will be hung on the wall at the back on the church next to the hanging tapestry.
Peter Gregory said that a trip to the Otago Museum brought him face to face with Pacific Island sculptures which reminded him of Adam and Eve. The figures seemed to have a real grasp of the pain and joy of life and thoughts about death and what might lie after it. There was a fragility—they could easily have been wiped out—but also a feeling of strength, being the first parents that led to many generations. He said, “There was a lot of material in the Pacific Island section that spoke to me of grappling with the light and dark sides of life, and the mystery of birth and death. There was a directness about the work that go to essence of things better than the arty stuff you see in art galleries.” He said, “I am interested in the idea of an artist being like an Old Testament prophet who looks at society as it is, and thinks about where it’s going and where it’s come from and comments about it. There’s a tension in all this because of the danger of the artist becoming a political cartoonist or graffiti-ist or someone doing slogan when the artist’s job is actually to paint pictures.”
At the Leader’s meeting thanks were expressed to the Gibson family for their kind gifts.
Art can have many interpretations. One is that that we are all members of one human family and as family members, even those we may look different from one another in the colour of our skin, we should treat one another with kindness and love.
Bruce Spittle