The art works – embroideries, altar frontals, stained glass windows, mural and vestments – mostly designed by Netta Ewing and completed by her and her colleagues of the Sacred Threads and the Sacred Strands, with the collaboration of Martin Farrelly of Aboyne and George Smith of Penilee, were blessed by Archbishop Mario Conti during a Mass marking the 25th anniversary of The Sacred Threads, the Embroiderers Guild.
you are always with us
as we gather to worship you.
Bless these embroideries
with which we adorn your altar,
the lectern from which your word is proclaimed,
the stained glass windows which draw attention
to the mystery of life,
and the vestments which clothe the ministers who serve you
and lead your people in prayer.
They are intended to signal your presence
and the holiness of what we do.
Bless those who have designed and created them,
and those who look on them with reverence,
and let their beauty be a foretaste to us
of the beauty we hope to enjoy in your kingdom.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord.
The Four Seasons Mural (1990-1998) See top of the page
This is a copy of the canvas embroidery mural which hangs in the transept of Pluscarden Abbey. It was commissioned by the late Abbot Alfred Spencer OSB. The text “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the world” is repeated in Hebrew at the top. The quotation c0mes from the Book of Job and was chosen by the late Prior, Dom Maurus Deegan OSB.The seasonal theme, beginning on the left with “spring,” depicts fragments of weather, landscapes and memories.
Each panel contains “windows”, symbolising “through a glass darkly” and can be understood as man looking through the glass at God, and God looking back at man.
In the autumn and winter panels, the window images reflect pregnancy and birth as we approach the Nativity.
The original mural, worked on canvas in tent stitch, is supported at Pluscarden by a “tongues of flame” rail wrought by Glasgow blacksmith, George Smith.
The embroiderers of the Four Seasons Mural are: Jenny Arbuthnot, Jean Swinbank, Margaret Sweeney, Kay Fernandez, Katie Regan, Mary Bradley,
Gladys Brown, Dinah Tennent, Nancy Girvan, Janet Frame and Netta Ewing.
The facsimile of the mural was presented to the parish by a parishioner in memory of his mother.
- Ancient Celtic carvings and mediaeval illuminations frequently use the symbol of “the Tree of Life.” Early Christian illustrations in Africa show the cross with roots in water and the cross pieces sprouting leaves, accompanying the text “The cross of Christ is ‘the tree of life’ for us.”
- Archbishop Conti earlier commissioned Netta Ewing to design a mitre on this theme.
Stained glass windows
The church contains some stained glass images – St Mungo, St Francis de Sales, St Augustine, and an Annunciation scene. Recently a series of new windows was installed featuring the ‘Tree of Life.’ These vivid windows are in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and in the Lady Chapel. Donated by one family they were skilfully set into their frames by another. Designed by Netta Ewing and created by Martin Farrelly of Aboyne.
Netta was first commissioned to design the missing centre panel of the triptych window of the Annunciation above the front door of the church. This was completed in stained glass by Martin Farrelly.
The ‘Tree of Life’ motif can be seen in the stained glass windows in the Lady Chapel and in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. These also were constructed by Martin Farrelly of Aboyne, trained under Dom Ninian Sloane O S B
at Pluscarden Abbey. Gold panels between and above these windows were machine-quilted by Marie O’Brien of Sandyhills, who leads the Sacred Strands Embroiderers Guild at St Paul’s, Shettleston.
The Blessed Sacrament Chapel window.
The theme of the Blessed Sacrament, feeding the people at the roots of the Tree of Life, is also emphasised here. The Cord Quilted Embroidery, by Marie O’Brien, hanging above the window, shows the lines of the branches changing into the smoke of incense as prayers rise to God.
The Lady Chapel Windows: The underlying theme of these windows is the Creation of Life. The bud-like shapes, sprouting at the foot of the trees, symbolise the faithful being brought to life by the nourishment of the Eucharist. A simple outline behind the trees delineates the “hem of his garment” which offered itself to the “woman with the issue of blood” whose faith in touching it made her capable of conceiving.
The simple altar has been enriched by a series of Altar Frontals designed by Netta Ewing and embroidered by the Sacred Threads Group, with the main frontal being quilted by Marie O’Brien of the Sacred Strands Group (St Paul’s, Shettleston). A braid drop with machine needle-weaving hangs in front of each of the seasonal frontals with the ‘Tree of Life’ motif common to the stained glass windows.
The Gold Altar FrontalThis panel was originally designed as part of a large apostles altar frontal for St Andrew’s cathedral, Clyde St., Glasgow. However, before the embroiderers began the work, Cardinal Winning removed the large altar and replaced it with a much smaller one. The original design, based on the St Andrew’s Cross, incorporated the names of the twelve apostles in canvas embroidery.
Mgr. Fitzpatrick discovered four splendid lion carvings in a basement cupboard of the house and Netta incorporated these, along with some brasswork, in her design for the refurbishment of the font, which was created by George Smith of Our Lady and St. George parish.
The ‘Millennium Vestments,’ designed by Netta Ewing and embroidered by the Sacred Threads Group, are in the Green, White, Purple and Red of the liturgical seasons and they also feature the ‘Tree of Life’ motif.
The Aumbry (or Ambry): placed between the sanctuary and the Blessed Sacrament Chapel this is used to hold and display the Holy Oils – Oil of Baptism, the Holy Chrism, and the Oil of the Sick. The glass flagons are individually designed and blown by Alastair Malcolm. The Aumbry was designed by Netta Ewing and crafted by George Smith of Glasgow.
The Tree of Life Pulpit Fall was designed by Netta Ewing, embroidered by Nancy Girvan with machine embroidery by Marie O’Brien, and supported in its frame by the work of George Smith.
The Crown of Thorns Pulpit Fall (1986) was embroidered by Clare Savage and Jean Radford. Gladys Brown embroidered the matching Chasuble.
The Resurrection Pulpit Fall (1989) was embroidered by Jenny Abernethy of St Albert’s Church, Pollokshields.
The Four Evangelist Kneelers (1983) were embroidered by Jenny Abernethy, Jean Radford, Marion Girvan and (again) Jenny Abernethy.
New mural for the Lady Chapel in St Leo’s
A mural depicting the Assumption of Our Lady in canvas embroidery and quilting. Canvas embroidery provides rich colours in wool, and quilted areas will provide painted gold highlights (as in the main altar frontal). Dimensions: 8′ Xx4′ 6″ approx. (irregular shapes). The mural will be divided into many sections, each section being stretched on specially cut MDF panels, and individually hung on battens. Designed by Netta Ewing, embroidered by the Sacred Threads Group, quilted by Marie O’Brien of the Sacred Strands Group (St Paul’s, Shettleston).