National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

Blank canvas

May 2015

by Rosie Schefe

Artist Paul Schubert stands in his inner-city backyard, contemplating a large expanse of cardboard. In just a few short weeks its whiteness will give way to a celebration of Pentecost, and the work will decorate the sanctuary at Zion Lutheran Church, Glynde (an Adelaide suburb).

But for the moment the piece remains blank.

That doesn’t mean Paul is lacking in inspiration. Far from it, in fact. This has been a work in progress since February, when he was first invited to put together a display for the congregation’s harvest thanksgiving celebration.

‘I was asked to create something that would be a pleasant surprise, beautiful and interesting’, Paul says with a smile. ‘I had two weeks notice.’

That harvest thanksgiving painting is on the reverse of the cardboard that Paul contemplates now. Laid flat on the cement, it stretches about six and a half metres across. At its longest point it is about four and a half metres high. The work is designed to fold, giving it a three-dimensional aspect, with cut-outs and add-ons that allow light through and encourage viewers to get closer.

Based jointly on the words of Psalm 103 and of Hymn 642, this beach scene is a reminder that all good things come directly from God. It tells of the attributes of God and depicts his glory shining onto his people and into their lives. It also depicts Christ’s work of bringing forgiveness and healing to our troubled world.

Paul says that he chose a beach theme (not normally associated with harvest thanksgiving) for several reasons. He grew up around the beaches and boats of Port Lincoln, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, then pursued a career in industrial design for the boatbuilding industry. He hasn’t lost those earlier loves—the organic curves of seashells, light dancing over water, the rhythmic sound of waves on the beach.

‘I wanted to get people to relax and enjoy a scene. Then they become more receptive to the ideas depicted in the work’, Paul says. ‘When people are in a calm state or meditating, they are more open to ideas and inspiration. I’m particularly interested in communicating Christian ideas to non-Christians through my work.’

Paul’s art practice took on a particularly Christian flavour about 16 years ago, sustaining him through a personal crisis. This period of his life brought him a new appreciation for God’s strength…