This exhibition of twenty-five paintings illustrating the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation or 'The Apocalypse of John', as it is also known, is the culmination of ten years of collaboration between the Apocalypse Study Group and the artist, G Roland Smith.
Throughout this time The General Conference of the New Church has sponsored this collaborative work. It would like to take this opportunity to thank Roland Smith for his generous gift of the original paintings to the organisation.
The Group wished to become more closely acquainted with the Book of Revelation and its apocalyptic nature. Realising that it consists almost entirely of visions seen by the first century apostle John, the Group felt that a visual presentation of these would assist in grasping the content of this elusive book. It enlisted the services of Roland Smith to portray the major images: the vision of the 'Son of Man', the throne in heaven, the scarlet woman and the final grand image of the Holy City, New Jerusalem. Soon it was realised that a selection of images from throughout the book was needed to provide reminders of the whole. This would be a new way of accessing the mysteries of this bewildering book. The first six gradually grew to twenty-five.
The passages to be illustrated, their particular focus and title, were chosen by the Group and the artist was left to execute the drawings in his own inimitable, precise style. As the passages worked their effect on the artist, so the artist's vision encapsulated in the paintings will have its effect on viewers. No traditional images here but modern day angels in shell-suits, cloth cap, or with a microphone for transmitting messages. The result is a series of paintings subtly influencing and challenging our current concepts.
From the text accompanying each picture we are made aware that although the Apocalypse may seem obscure, the symbolism relates to our inner lives. Each vision, each picture reflects something going on in our inner self, its lows, its highs.
The Apocalypse begins with a promise of blessing on 'the one who reads the words of this prophecy, ... those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it'.
We are blessed today by the opportunity 'to see and take to heart' how this prophecy has inspired Roland Smith and the Apocalypse Study Group and by the effect this experience might have on our own lives.
Mary E Duckworth, Senior Minister, The General Conference of the New Church