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Culture: Connecting cultures.

Byline: Barbara Hodgson

CHINESE motifs have been introduced into a Sunderland church as part of a festival of art linking two remarkable cultures.

Pamela So has come up with a temporary artwork for St Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth as part of the Bede & Beijing festival.

The artist was commissioned by the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, whose team of glass experts realised her ideas.

They made a mirrored "cloth"for the church altar and etched intricate designs on hanging lamps.

Glasgow-born Pamela, who is of Chinese descent, incorporated plant and herb motifs familiar to both Chinese and Anglo-Saxon cultures into the cloth. Pamela likes to tailor her work to specific locations and their histories, and is keen to explore themes surrounding the integration of chinese art, design and horticulture into British culture.

For her new piece, she gave her cloth the appearance of linen, in a reference to the flax-growing and textile industry of northern European countries, where linen was highly valued and carried religious connotations of cleanliness being next to godliness.

Pamela, who graduated from Glasgow University and afterwards from Glasgow School of Art, said: The site at St Peter's has been inspirational.

"With the technical expertise available at the National Glass centre, my own ideas of using chinese cultural motifs have been enhanced by the use of mirrored glass.

"When combined with my rtwork, the mirror becomes an altar cloth, ethereal in appearance but at the same time having an enduring quality in keeping with the long history of the site."

To complement it, Pamela came up with the idea of Chinese variations on the vine scroll and its western equivalent being etched on the glass base of the suspended church lights.

The vine scroll motif was dopted throughout the western world and eastwards to India in its many forms.

The Chinese began to follow Buddhism around the time of Bede and with it many of the conventions of Indian Buddhist art.

The Bede & Beijing festival links anglo Saxon Northumbria and chinese culture through a series of exhibitions, art works and events running until September.

The church artwork is part of the cultural celebration in six venues in Sunderland and South Tyneside, and is one of three exhibitions of Pamela's work.

Her exhibition Alien Series - Flower and Greenhouse has already been at the National Glass Centre, while My Father's Garden is part of the Gardens of Tranquillity exhibition at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens until September 7.

The six venues are all members of the Wearmouth-Jarrow Partnership working to achieve World Heritage Site status for the twin monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow, the 7th Century cultural centre which inspired Venerable Bede.

Bede studied at St Peter's Church - which was built under the instruction of Benedict Biscop in 673AD - before moving to St Paul's Church in Jarrow, where he lived and studied for the rest of his life.

Visit for more information on the Wearmouth-Jarrow bid.

For information on the National Glass Centre, and the other artists showing there during the festival, visit or call (0191) 515-5555.

Bede & Beijing is part of NewcastleGateshead's world-class festival and events programme


MARRIAGE OF STYLES Pamela So with her installation for St Peter's, above left.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 8, 2008
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