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Art and textiles tell tales of the bitter and the sweet

Becky Shaylor and the Revd Helen Jesty at 'The Bitter and the Sweet' exhibition at St Paul's Church, Winchester

They were a a creative duo in Alton, Hampshire - as Anna Chaplain and Anna Friend respectively - and now Helen Jesty and Becky Shaylor have teamed up again to display a body of art work which grew during the pandemic.

Lockdown 2020: Tea 4 One (mixed media) Becky Shaylor

The catalogue to the St Paul's Church exhibition explained: 'We are presenting an eclectic body of art work in mixed media, paint textile and collage.'

Gloves and Dresses (mixed paper and thread) Becky Shaylor

The theme 'The Bitter and the Sweet' emerged from conversations the artists shared 'around the many challenges we all face, especially when going through tough times, How do we live 'sweetly' in the face of bitter experiences?'

About two hundred people visited the two-day exhibition over Friday and Saturday March 22 and 23, which included a lunch and jazz recital on the second day.

Their show followed a first one held in Alton back in 2016 which drew on some of the chaplaincy conversations they had had with old and young in the town and surrounding villages.

The Big Book of Magnificent Memories (mixed media) Becky Shaylor and Helen Jesty

They had planned to exhibit their work again, but in Winchester this time, in 2020 but lockdowns put paid to that. However, over the course of the pandemic they built up an even greater body of work expressing some of the pain of isolation due to Covid-19.

More memories... Helen Jesty

Becky's aunt Elizabeth Dain was there to lend support. Elizabeth was one of the prime movers behind getting Anna Chaplaincy underway in Alton in 2010. At the time she led the Anglican pastoral team in the market town.

Becky Shaylor, Elizabeth Dain and Helen Jesty

Poppy Wreath (mixed media) Becky Shaylor

Tables set, each decorated with an angel fashioned from redundant hymn books among other recycled materials

Displays graced all parts of the church including the nave, a side chapel, the altar space and a mezzanine level. The show was testament 'to the positive forces which can emerge from the mess of artistic activity'.



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