Bible stories told through needle and thread at Bath Abbey

A brand-new exhibition will be on display in Bath Abbey from Wednesday 3 July in the newly restored east end of the church. The exhibition will feature a collection of diptychs (double panels of artwork) that depict some of the most popular stories in the Old Testament.

The exhibition, ‘Let My People Go’, will include 23 diptychs that have been created especially for the Abbey by Bath-based artist Sue Symons. Each diptych will comprise one panel of calligraphy, with beautifully illustrated verses from the Old Testament, and an adjacent textile panel. The Bible stories portrayed by the artist are amongst the most familiar ones from the Old Testament including of The Creation and The Fall, Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath, Jonah and The Whale.

Bath Abbey’s Missioner, Revd Stephen Girling, who curated the exhibition, said: “I’m delighted to have been involved in receiving this collection from Sue Symons. We’ve called it ‘Let My People Go’ as a reference to its principle theme: the liberation of God’s people from slavery and oppression, into freedom in the land promised to them by God.  The theme of liberation from the clutches of evil, sin and death is explored throughout the collection, drawing on many of the well-known stories from the Old Testament.”

The exhibition is open from Wednesday 3 July in the light, open and spacious area of the newly restored east end of the Abbey. Revd Stephen Girling continues: “Before the large corporation stalls are returned to the East end in 2021 this truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity to display artwork which brings alive the Abbey’s Christian heritage and the heart of its worship.”

This is not the first time that Bath Abbey has exhibited a collection of diptychs by Sue Symons. The Abbey’s first collection was received in 2007 and titled ‘One Man’s Journey to Heaven’ comprising 35 diptychs illustrating the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. It has been proven to be very popular with the Abbey’s congregation and visitors alike with diptych merchandise a best seller in the Abbey’s shop. This collection is currently undergoing conservation and re-framing.

The new ‘Let My People Go’ diptychs are just as beautifully illustrated and their themes of liberation and hope are the perfect complement to ‘One Man’s Journey to Heaven’, just as the stories of the Old Testament are a precursor to those of the New Testament.

Newly commissioned exhibition merchandise will be available in the Abbey shop, including cards and prints. The exhibition is free; visitors are invited to make a donation at the door when they enter the Abbey.