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Southgate Methodist Church, Elland
and Christian Centre

The Southgate Triptych

Picture of Triptych

A few years ago Southgate embarked on a major upgrade to our ancillary buildings. This involved major changes to our entrance foyer. In the process two windows at the side of the church, backing on to the foyer, had to be blocked up, resulting in a bare concrete filling, instead of the glass. One of our members, Alwyn Kershaw, a retired joiner, has made some beautiful panels to cover the window space. For the first window, he made some useful bookshelves for hymn books and various literature; but for the other he has produced a superb triptych in fretwork. The three panels show scenes from the Creation, the life of Jesus, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.

Alwyn's first step for ideas was the internet. Scrollsaw work, as it is known, is very popular in the USA and there were lots of sites but nothing that really inspired, so he tried some of the religious art sites and came across a book called '300 Christian and Inspirational Patterns for scroll saw' by Tom Zieg, which gave him some ideas. However, it was difficult to visualise how these could be incorporated into the windows, which were much larger than any of the patterns.

So it was back to the internet.

Eventually he came across a website for the wonderfully talented Sue Mey who lives and works in Pretoria S Africa. Have a look at her website where there is a lot of information and an interview with her. On this site he came across the patterns for the three arched windows depicting Noah, Christmas and Easter, but they were only small and designed to have a lighted candle behind them. However he managed to get them enlarged so that they would be usable.

Alwyn uses a Hegner saw and it would be almost impossible, because of the size of the saw and the turning circle, to make a picture to fill the whole window in one go; so each window had to be done in two panels. This meant that even with these patterns there was still the bottom half of each window to fill.

So it was back to the internet again.

He had signed up for Sue Mey's newsletter and every few days new ideas arrived by e-mail (and still do - she really does have some amazing ideas). Unfortunately, nothing fitted the windows but parts of lots of her other designs were suitable so he ordered more patterns and began to take them apart and put the pieces back together to make the bottom half of the windows. This proved to be quite a difficult task as nothing seemed to be the right size so the home printer worked overtime enlarging and reducing until all the pieces fitted together to make a complete picture.

Alwyn and his wife Lesley lost count of the time they spent with dozens of bits of paper trying to make them all fit together but Sue Mey's designs were inspirational and Alwyn kept finding more and more until eventually he had to call a halt before they disappeared under all the paper.

Once the designs were decided the hard part started - to actually make the designs. He started out by practising other designs just to see how they worked out, then, when he felt confident, Alwyn would disappear into the garage and no one could go anywhere near him or talk to him, while he was working, as one slip could ruin a whole panel. It all took a long time but the satisfaction as each piece was finished was amazing. It was quite a strain on his eyes so he could only do a bit at a time

The windows are all based on Sue Mey's designs except the panel depicting scenes from the life of Jesus. These were mostly taken from the book, mentioned earlier, by Tom Zieg (an American).

The left window represents The Creation and The Ark with the figure of God; the sun, moon and stars; light; trees, birds and animals; Adam and Eve and the apple; the Ark and the Rainbow.

Picture of Triptych

The right-hand window shows incidents from the life of Jesus: the stable at Bethlehem with a donkey, the shepherds, angels and Kings; Jesus walking on water, and calming the storm; a fishing boat; a well of water; and a lamp and anchor to represent our Girls' and Boys' Brigades.

Picture of Triptych

The centre window depicts The Crucifixion and Easter. There are symbols of bread and wine; a street in Jerusalem; Jesus carrying a cross and the Crucifixion; the Lamb of God; then the empty tomb; a dove; Easter lilies; a new-born chick and a lamb; the rising sun; and trumpeting angels.

The wood is oak faced ply wood and the frames are also oak made from old church skirting boards.

Alwyn has worked as a joiner all his life. He has made toys for his own children and for lots of other children. When he retired he started to make children's jigsaw puzzles which he sold at craft fairs along with other wooden items. He has made wooden hand crosses out of old church pews and various nativity scenes. He also made the crib which is used on the Communion table at Christmas; the Advent candle ring; and the box to house the book of remembrance.