Psalm 119

Now this one was a challenge! Two things from my youth I remembered, that this one was the longest psalm - 176 verses - and also I had memorised the words in v 105, 'Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path'. Yes, the King James Bible was read and understood in those days, and what we have lost in losing it. I know, I know - accuracy has come in, inclusive language etc etc, but how much we have lost the sound of words that stick in the mind in childhood, and to which meaning attaches itself later on. I noticed in yesterday's Lazarus gospel, 'Jesus wept' has become 'Jesus began to weep' in the NRSV, and don't get me started on 'I will make you fish for people'. My theory is that lovely words take up residence in us far more readily than concepts however well-understood. (That's my little regular rant on the subject.)

Anyway, those words took root in me and leapt out asking to be the mainstay of the design. Other aspects of the psalm that I understood later on in life asked to be incorporated too, and so there is an eight-ness about the design, because the psalm is arranged as an acrostic with 8 verses per letter of the Hebrew alphabet, all (or most) of them containing something praising the law, statutes, teaching etc. So the psalmist here is a lover of pattern, and this reminded me of the Arabic tradition. So when I flicked through a book on repeated pattern design, I lighted upon this one which was used in some stone carving, which really is quite simple, but is also mind-boggling.

At the same time, the Shard was going up in Southwark, with some slight controversy going on about it being funded by Islamic finance. Somehow I was reminded of its pointiness when I was doing this design, the execution of which also involves pure 22 ct gold leaf, my first attempt at handling this float-away stuff. See: Cutting gold leaf . (No, I don't know how she does it either.)

I managed to print out the whole psalm on one side of A4; hence you will find I have left you a magnifying glass in the little pocket containing the text.

Today we prepared the pieces for exhibition in the Desmond Tutu room of the cathedral suite of rooms; it was said that African people would be delighted by many aspects of my work. So if you are African and reading this, I hope you think I have done justice to the fabric it is edged with - an African patterned fabric, printed in Manchester as part of its celebration of African art this summer. African women have contributed enormously to the store of biblical textile art, and here's one as a starter:  Harriet Powers . Praise be!

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