Purple Altar Frontal

I made a purple altar frontal for All Saints North Baddesley during winter 2006/7. The lectern fall was my metal thread work piece for the City & Guilds diploma, and the altar frontal was the large piece. I created these in memory of Dad, who died in June 2006. In the act of designing and stitching I spent a lot of time thinking of, remembering and praying for Dad, giving thanks for the person he was and the life that he lived, and grieving for the person that we no longer get to see.

Purple is the colour of balance, uniting the warmth of red with the coolness of blue.

In the liturgical year, purple or violet is generally used during the seasons of Lent and Advent – both times of waiting and preparation.

The design uses the image of a cross, as this can be used during both Advent and Lent, and is not specific to just one season. In keeping with purple as the colour of balance, I have used a cross with arms of equal length. One interpretation of the meaning of this relates to the four directions. East is rebirth, youth, Spring, and growth. West is knowledge, experience, Autumn, and guidance. South is vitality, vigor, Summer, and strength. North is wisdom, silence, winter, and death. The circle connects them in the cycle of life.

This seems appropriate for a cross to be used during Advent and Lent, seasons of different emotions. The different seasons and qualities suggested seem to unite well with the colour purple – the colour of balance. Advent,  a time of preparation for the coming of Christ into the world – a time of expectation and hope. Lent a time of preparation, but this time for the crucifixion of Christ, the price that He paid for us – a time of reflection, sorrow and learning.

For the actual design of the cross, I have looked at historic crosses. This one is inspired by a cross standing outside St Brynach’s church in Nevern, South Wales – dating from the tenth century.

The triskele knot, representing the Holy Trinity, is found in each arm of the cross. I see this as representing God’s presence in each of the seasons, in life and death, in summer and in winter. I have changed the design so that it is a continuous knot, again, linking all the seasons together, the unchangeable God, who is with us forever.

Purple Altar Frontal

Purple Altar Frontal

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