Gary Sandman’s Review of Advice & Queries

In January a Friend named Graham Lewinton posted an amazing painting of his on “Quaker Artists History”, my Facebook page. It was called Advices and Queries.

Graham Lewinton (b. 1954) is an English painter. He is largely self-taught. Many of his works are inspired by a dislike of bullying and oppression, and these focus on pollution, Israel and Gaza, Arab Spring and the Dale Farm evictions. Some works feature portraits and landscapes. Among other places, Graham has had exhibitions at X-Church, Tate Modern, the Bird’s Nest Gallery, Kunstkreis Kloster Brunshausen, the Box and Doddington Hall. He is a member of the Lincolnshire Artists Society.

Graham began attending Lincoln Meeting at the suggestion of a friend. After a painful childhood, he had grown up to become a very angry man. His friend felt that Quakers might be helpful with that anger. At his first Meeting for Worship Graham sat silently and looked at the parquet floor, a floor like the one in his parent’s home. Painful memories of his past came flooding back. On the way home he pulled his car over to the side of the road and began to cry. Afterward, he says, “I felt clean”. He has been going to Friends Meeting ever since and became a member in 2013. He sees Quakerism as an on-going practice that has allowed him to heal.

Advices and Queries, an acrylic painting, depicts Lincoln Friends as pictured from above. Members and attenders sit on chairs while beneath them, on the parquet floor, are inscribed Quaker advices and queries as well as George Fox quotes. Graham jokes that he painted it “hanging from a chandelier”. Actually, he created it by leaning over a balustrade in the Meetinghouse and snapping a photograph of each Friend, one at a time, as a guide. Problems arose with perspective and structure, however, and the painting took him nearly three years to complete. The original hangs in the Lincoln Meetinghouse. (“Quaker Advices and Queries, Numbers 42 and 44”, his paintings of those words, rest on either side). The Meeting sells prints and postcards of it as a fundraiser.

I loved Graham Lewinton’s Advices and Queries. It perfectly captures the feeling of a Friends Meeting for Worship. The color is vibrant. The detail is exquisite. (At first I thought it was a photograph). I was especially charmed by the boy in the bottom center, glancing to his left, and the nearby dog, also gazing left.

Gary Sandman

Gary is a painter and writer living in Roanoke, Virginia.  He is a member of Roanoke Friends Meeting.

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