Brother Francis and Sister Clare
Katharine Walmsley reviews the book ‘Explosion of Love’, paintings by Lydia Corbett, words by Anne Ellison and Lydia Corbett. The Foreword is written by Martin Shaw, Bishop of Argyll and The Isles who accompanied Lydia and Anne on their pilgrimage to Assisi. This collection of paintings and text are a personal and modern interpretation of a journey through life, Assisi and beyond, with Saint Francis and Saint Clare…
Here is a book to act as a substitute experience for the many members who have had to cancel their bookings to Assisi in Italy due to C0vid-19.
So many were disappointed in the Zone 3 having to abandon the trip to the city which witnessed the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare; young people in their day who took it upon themselves to care for the poor, the homeless and the sick.
Their legacy, still alive today, has been the establishment of the Franciscan Poor Clare Monasteries and Convents for monks, nuns and teachers worldwide. Somehow, despite centuries later, the qualities of love, inspiration and the human force of these saints still inspire visitors and pilgrims to Assisi.
‘Explosion of Love’ is described as a personal modern interpretation of a journey through life, Assisi and beyond with St Francis and St. Clare. The first sentence of this handsomely illustrated book explains:
‘…it envelops all of life. Life is like being in love all the time with all of God’s creation…’
Everything after this sentence is a surprise, unexpected and original, yet expresses all the positives of human existence.
Lydia Corbett, a Subud artist, known in the art world for her beautiful paintings shows through her work how she finds understanding of the world of St. Francis and St. Clare.
Lydia’s paintings are said to possess a dream-like quality which abandon scale and perspective. Yet her work interweaves human subjects with animals, vegetables and minerals. Despite this formlessness of dimension, her drawings communicate clarity of vision.
In the many drawings and paintings, she not just images the experiences of the Life of Francis but ingests for herself the wisdom of his own discoveries on his path to love. As she visits the Basilicas, Churches, buildings and Assisi sites, her paintings illustrate the process Francis went through to find himself and his mission in life.
Anne Ellison, a friend of Lydia, put words to these works which meditates on the human qualities of these two amazing people who were destined to become saints. Songs and poems by Lydia relating to Francis are included.
Lydia was born in Paris. Her background is art, her mother being a painter and her father an influential gallery owner. In 1954, when she was 19 years old, she met the artist Picasso. I remember being told he was fascinated by her ponytail hairstyle, which was a new fashion then. He asked if he could sketch her. That meeting led to some 40 paintings of her by Picasso. She was known then as Sylvette.
In fact, if you want to know more about Lydia’s other paintings, go to her website https://www.iwassylvette.com/
Lydia now lives in Devon and is a member of the South Devon Subud Group. She is represented by the Francis Kyle Gallery in London.
Article by Katharine Walmsley, first published at https://goodreed.uk and Subud Voice August 2020.