Art Theology No. 6

“The Fever Van” by Laurence Stephen Lowry, (1887-1976)

The fever van was the colloquial term in the north of England for the ambulance that transported patients with infectious diseases, usually scarlet fever or diphtheria, to the local isolation or infectious diseases hospital.

No social distancing being shown here, but a definite sense of great concern, probably fear and a definite sense of community similar to what we are seeing at the present time.

A time when people didn’t/ couldn’t travel great distances due to finances, but where they made their own fun and sense of occasion.

Lowry lived through some hard times including World War 2.

He attended Sunday school as a youngster with his mother who played the organ, but he wasn’t a religious man.

I found this quote written by an Anglican priest and writer and thought it was quite interesting.

“ENERGY, violence, cruelty, and laughter constitute the recurring themes of Lowry’s creations. Workers toil, and stoically share their routines and rituals, celebrations and losses, under the grey sky of an inscrutable Providence. The book of Ecclesiastes presents us with the same vision, and it is one not far removed from any truthful telling of the Christian story. The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams writes that “the resurrection is not properly preached without an awareness of the human world as a place of loss, and a place where men and women strive not to be trapped in that loss.”

Sharon Mason (Elswick URC)

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