The Stations of the Cross: the captive figure


Artist's statement

For almost as long as I can remember, The Stations of the Cross have been an essential part of my visual vocabulary. As a child they were the first images that revealed the problematic nature of human existence and the power of art as a means to express the inexpressible. 

As I grew older, I came into contact with more emotionally charged versions of Christ's Passion than the ones familiar to me from school and my local church. Especially significant to me were those single episodes such as Rubens's great Deposition and Titian's resonant image of the Entombment. 

It became my ambition to continue that tradition, by putting some of the emotive power of such images into a suite of works corresponding to the fourteen Stations of the Cross. I have been considering this ambition for many years; over the last five I have been actively producing drawings and sketches and now I feel ready to bring the project to fruition. 

Ghislaine Howard

The Stations of the Cross - the exhibition

The major sequence of paintings, placed in the dramatic setting of the nave of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, is on a scale to correspond to the imposing architectural context.

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

A number of large drawings associated with Christ's Passion was shown at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. 

Ghislaine Howard's paintings are rooted in shared human experiences and have proved to communicate on a spiritual, emotional and intellectual level to a wide audience. 

Extension activities

Liverpool Hope University College has a large number of student teachers and during the production of the work for the exhibition Ghislaine Howard gave lectures and informal talks with the students concerning the progress and development of the project. 

The experience, organisational skills and ethos of both Liverpool Hope University College and Amnesty International ensure that a wide cross section of people were thoroughly engaged with this project. 

A series of events acted as a catalyst for the creative collaboration of students and others in the Merseyside area. The exhibitions at Canterbury and elsewhere took their message to a wider public. 

The project created an opportunity for those of religious and non-religious persuasions to come together in the contemplation of a sequence of works that was central to the millennium celebrations, that is firmly rooted within Christian belief and as such speaks out about concerns that are burning issues of today and for the future of our world society. 

It is hoped that this project will contribute towards the building of a better world for the new millennium through a modern visualisation of one of the central themes of Christianity. 

Amnesty International supported the project and, working in collaboration with Liverpool Hope University College, developed an  educational package based on the paintings and drawings for schools and young people. 

To accompany the educational package a photographic and textual travelling exhibition was developed based on the original work to allow a tour of smaller or more unusual venues such as churches, schools or village halls. 

The exhibition was accompanied by an illustrated publication containing a number of relevant essays. The publication is not only a catalogue for the exhibition but also an entity in its own right; one that can be used as an aid to meditation on the spiritual aspects of The Stations of the Cross and the more general issues the sequence suggests. 

Ghislaine Howard - a brief résumé

Ghislaine Howard studied Fine Art at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne and worked in London and Paris before returning to her native north-west England in 1980. She lives and works in Glossop, in the Derbyshire Peak District. She exhibits on a regular basis with the Boundary Gallery and the Cynthia Corbett Gallery in London; Horizons Modern Art in Brussels and the Tib Lane and Castlefield galleries in Manchester. She has exhibited widely and her work appears in many public and private collections. (Full CV)

Selected exhibitions since 1993

Cynthia Corbett Gallery, London, Four Gallery Artists, June 1999

Horizons Modern Art, Brussels - solo exhibition, November 1998 

Discerning Eye, London - invited artist by critic Richard Kendall, London and Birkenhead, November 1998 

Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester - The Informal Portrait, participant in selected exhibition, November 1997-January 1998 

Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield - The Body Electric, solo exhibition, September 1997 

Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester - Bodies, participant in selected exhibition, September 1996-January 1997 

Anthony Hepworth - participant in selected exhibitions, April 1996 and September 1995 

Boundary Gallery - The Colour Blue, participant in selected exhibition, May 1995 

British Council, Manchester - Caught in the Act, solo exhibition, November 1994 

Warrington Art Gallery - Inside Out, solo exhibition alongside work from inmates of Risley Prison, February 1994 

Manchester City Art Gallery - A Shared Experience, solo exhibition, March-May 1993 

Selected Publications

The Stations of the Cross: The Captive Figure; exhibition catalogue and book edited by Michael Howard with contributions by Dr Joan Crossley and Shannon Ledbetter, published by Liverpool Hope University College in association with Amnesty International, 2000

Exhibiting Gender, Sarah Hyde, Courtauld Institute of Art, 1997 

A Shared Experience, exhibition catalogue by David Peters-Corbett, Manchester City Art Gallery, 1993 

Numerous review articles in The Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Women's Art Journal, Art Review, etc. 

Critical response

Ghislaine Howard's "work has a passionate roughness that seems sublimely right for the pain and confusion of the passion. The Stations should cry out to the viewer/prayer the meaning of human cruelty and our rejection of God's gentleness and love" 
- Sister Wendy Beckett

Ghislaine Howard's images "have great dignity and self possession, an intransigent presence which does justice to the gravity of the events depicted... One is witness to necessity and autonomy and immemorial repetition and endurance. There is something enduring, patient, reverent in the way (she) has conveyed these issues; a complex putting together of the monumental and the contingent." 

- Martin Golding, writing about Ghislaine Howard's
exhibition A Shared Experience

"So it is through Howard's moving embodiment of empathy that she really makes her individual mark. (Her works) could hardly have been painted by any male, at any time, anywhere." 

- Robert Clark, The Guardian

"Drawing colour and the signature of touch come together in these elemental paintings in works that could only have been made in the late twentieth century." 

- Richard Kendall, Galleries Magazine

"The work that Ghislaine Howard did at Maidstone Prison was powerful and dynamic; the inmates found her an inspiration to work with. Her energy touched the lives of those she worked with." 

- Felicia Solomon, Freedom through Creativity
Ghislaine Howard Studio Gallery

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The Stations of the Cross

   2 charcoal studies

   3 Metropolitan Cathedral

   4 Anglican Cathedral

   5 documentation



The Empty Tomb



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