The Sower,
Sculpted by Sir William Hamo Thornycroft R.A. (1850-1925),
Sculpted in 1889,
Patinated bronze
© Christian Art Today at Kew Gardens, London

The Sower,
Sculpted by Sir William Hamo Thornycroft R.A. (1850-1925),
Sculpted in 1889,
Patinated bronze
© Christian Art Today at Kew Gardens, London

Gospel of 29 January 2020

Imagine a sower going out to sow

Mark 4:1-20

The mother and brothers of Jesus arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’

Reflection on the Bronze Sculpture

Sir William Hamo Thornycroft was an English sculptor responsible for some of London’s best-known statues and was one one of the youngest members of the Royal Academy ever. He was the leading figure in a movement called New Sculpture,  which provided a transition between the neoclassical styles of the 19th century and its later fin-de-siècle, modernist evolution. Our sculpture today, photographed at Kew Gardens, London, shows a male figure wearing a loose shirt, trousers and leggings, striding forward over freshly ploughed earth, carrying a basket from which he casts the seed. He is focussed, moving forward with strength and determination, to sow the seeds.

When choosing a work of art for the parable of the sower, the first work that comes to mind is often Van Gogh’s Sower. Throughout history this parable is one favoured by many artists. I often wondered why that is? The Parable of the Sower is a vivid story that illustrates profound truths about the condition of our hearts and our responsibility to share the Gospel as often and widely as possible. I guess it is the fact that this parable reveals the heart of the listener, just like art talks to the heart as well. Also, just like artwork has to depict or represent something, even when abstract, parables make the conceptual a little more concrete.

Just like artists when they talk about their art, Jesus didn't explain everything in complete detail. He expected His listeners and subsequent Gospel readers (us) to do some of the work. If Jesus would have filled in all the blanks for everyone, it wouldn't have been as poignant and relevant. Just like when we look at art, parables challenge the listeners and readers to make the connection between the story and its Truth. The ‘Ah yes, I get it now’ moment occurs when we make that connection! Same with art, when you ‘get’ the picture or the artwork, beauty is revealed!

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