Thursday, 5 November 2015

St Barnabas Bethnal Green, Roman Road E3

The 1865 church of St Barnabas was almost destroyed by bombing in WW2 and reconstructed within the north and south walls by Anthony Lewis. These symbols of the four Evangelists were carved about 1957 by Don Potter, a pupil of Eric Gill who taught sculpture and pottery at Bryanston School.
Potter was given his original break through the unusual mechanism of the Scouts. He became a Wolf Cub in 1910 and as a teenager began to carve, producing Scout stuff like totem poles. In the 1920s he came to the notice of Baden-Powell himself, who recognised his talent and offered him many commissions. He even camped in the grounds of B-P's country house in Hampshire, scrounging fallen 1,000 year old oaks as raw material.
Potter's Evangelists are more spirited than the average depiction. If you have forgotten your iconography, they are (clockwise from top left) the winged lion of Mark, the winged ox of Luke, the winged man of Matthew and the eagle (also winged, naturally) of John.

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