Traces of Wearmouth
a community Clippy Mat
I believe that for too long Sunderland has been ‘pigeon holed’ as a depressed area, struggling to come to terms with the loss of heavy industry such as coal mining and the ship yards. I think that people should delve back a little further to discover how the monastery at Monkwearmouth on the banks of the Wear had one of the best libraries in Medieval Europe and had a group of Scribes whose work rivalled any calligraphers in the known Christian world!
The Venerable Bede was educated in the Wearmouth Monastery Sunderland and his formative years of schooling were on the banks of the river Wear.
Bede went on to write the first history book of the English people amongst numerous other works. Infact, most of what we know about Anglo Saxon Britain, we know through his writing, he was a truly great scholar who still remains in print today as he was 1300 years ago. His reputation was such that we can assume that he may of assisted with the text from which the Lindisfarne Gospels were copied from.
My intention for making this piece of work, Traces of Wearmouth, was to illustrate and give credit to the influence of the monks of Wearmouth-Jarrow on untold religious manuscripts throughout the world. The recent exhibition at Durham displayed for the first time both the Lindisfarne Gospels together with its example text, the Durham Gospels, which were written not at Durham as the name suggests, but at the Wearmouth-Jarrow monastry
The video below shows the finished mat in Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden
As a starting point, I took images from ancient carvings found on the weathered west arch of St. Peter’s Church at Monkwearmouth.
I embellished these faint drawings with colour and texture, and then morphed them into the cat symbol found in the Lindisfarne Gospels.
This acknowledges that the work from Lindisfarne has its roots not only from the site at St. Peter’s Church, but possibly from the Venerable Bede himself.
Click the picture and download the power point showing the story of the rug and the people who have helped in its production. Please note this may take over a minute to install, I am currently seeking ways to improve this and to reinstate the music by George Colclough and Thom Potts.
The original ink drawing was too small; I wanted to give it more gravitas, so I decided to oversee the making of a large community rug to be made by people from Sunderland in homage to the work of Benedict Biscop, our patron saint, and the monks from his monastery.
So the rug was started at St. Peter’s on a hot day in August. The next day was again sunny and warm and the eager hooky rookies were joined by ladies from the ‘Durham Matters’ group, who took control of the rapidly progressing project. I then decided that, to keep the momentum going, I would take the rug out into the community and visit as many churches, community groups, care homes and possibly schools as I could. This, I thought, would make the rug an intergenerational and fully inclusive piece of art.
The rug was made in the memory of Sylvia Thompson, a tireless fund raiser for St. Peter’s who had sadly and unexpectedly passed away prior to its completion. Sylvia campaigned and worked so hard with the church, community initiatives and in supporting the Traces of Wearmouth project in order to promote St. Peter’s Church. I believe she would have wanted to have been involved further with the rug and would like to think that it will be used to help unite the church groups with the wider community.
St. Peter's Church, Monkwearmouth
St. Bedes Church, Town End Farm
Donnison School, Sunderland East End
Sunderland Antiquarians Soc.
Park Lea Road, Roker
St. Aidan's Catholic Academy
Kath Price MOT.
Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens
St. Bede's The Buzz