Religion Magazine

The Deserts Shall Rejoice

By Richardl @richardlittleda

The story of a picture

A couple of weeks ago I paid a visit to Virginia Water, not far from where I live. At one end of the water there is a cascade. It is quite small, and entirely artificial – built in the late Eighteenth Century as part of the Royal Landscape. However, on looking closely at the water I found myself absorbed by the beauty of the droplets frozen in time:

Virginia water

A couple of weeks later I visited the natural landscape of Watersmeet and found myself again absorbed by the water as it tumbled relentlessly down.  I also visited Tarr steps, a bridge dating back some 4000 years, and gazed down at the clear waters below it:


Tarr Steps

On returning home an idea started to form about illustrating Isaiah’s ancient promise that the “deserts shall rejoice”.  I bought an old frame from a Romanian charity shop, a packet of sandpaper from the local hardware shop, and set to work. The sandpaper was torn and left with ragged edges to provide a contrast to the beauty and clarity of the water. I also took the sandpaper to the frame. This was partly to create texture, but also to provide a means for the sandpaper’s roughness to be involved in the creation itself – changing things even as water does over time. The end result can be seen below. I hope to report in a few weeks’ time that it is hanging in the chapel at a retreat center. I hope that it will bring some refreshment to many a desert there.


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