Mandorla art award

Textile Art: The Former Things Have Passed Away


The Former Things Have Passed Away’, (c) Ruth de Vos 2018
156cm by 156cm
hand-dyed, machine-pieced, hand- and machine-quilted


Entering the Mandorla Art Award has been on my bucket list for a few years now. When I saw that the theme text for this year was Rev 21:1,2 I knew that I had to enter this one - I love that Bible passage!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Rev 2:1-4

I mulled over this passage and how to create an appropriate artwork in response to it - one that is true to my style, but also does justice to the passage. I jotted down pages of notes and messy thumbnail sketches, and for the longest time, felt quite paralysed by fear and indecision - as there really is no way to do justice to such a glorious Bible passage in one artwork, or even a whole body of artwork. 

After that, I figured all I could do was my best humble effort, and, although the finished artwork was not accepted into the Mandorla Art Award, I’m still so glad that I tried. 


I started out with a spherical shape symbolic of the new earth descending, with the darkness (and the screen-printed tears) at the bottom of the artwork representing ‘the former things’. I incorporated a panel of raw dupioni silk vertically through the centre of the artwork to represent to river running through the new Jerusalem, and foliage growing on either side to show the tree of life.

What was most important to me, though, was to depict the joy that this passages evokes for me, and the joy of every redeemed soul in the presence of the glory of God - for that’s what the new Jerusalem is - all the saved living eternally with God. Hence all the faces. I wanted to include old and young, male and female. 

I think that my favourite is the old man (top). His joy is more quiet than the others, but that doesn’t make it less. I’ve tried to suggest a whole crowd of people by incorporating some more stylised figures as well as stitching many more people into the background of the artwork. The stitched figures are all drawings of people made by children (see the detail shots at the end of this post). If you’re a long-time follower you will know that I love children’s drawings of people, and it seemed so appropriate to include them, as it references the child-like faith that we are all called to have.



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