A Walk Through Isaiah is the result of 3 years of work by Rob Cox who has crafted an individual and original print for each chapter of Isaiah. For the first time ever, this project is being displayed together as one exhibit, so we sat down with Rob to go a bit deeper and see how the project came about.
Hi Rob, thank you for being at the Festival! All the pieces look absolutely amazing, how did you get started with a project like this?
Well I started back in 2006 with something I felt comfortable with, which was Isaiah 5, the vines. Then I did chapter 2, which talks about Mount Zion and the path. At this point I thought this was a bit ridiculous, I should go from chapter 1 and work my way through. If I could get a form of what I was doing, I would get more out of it. I definitely did! This entire project made me grow, made me more aware of God’s wonder and power and awesomeness, and in the end it was just unbelievable.
How do you work out how to depict a chapter?
I’ve got about 4 or 5 books on Isaiah that I’ve read through, some great big thick tomes! I read the passages and then read them and just listed a few key features of a chapter. Things like ‘lamb on shoulders’, ‘man in red jacket’ and so on. Then I would sketch out these ideas and begin working on colours for them. I’m a very design-y bloke you see, there not just done as I go.
As for the actual pieces themselves, you start with the lightest colour and cut out all the sections you need, for example yellow. Then orange, then red, and carry on. Then you layer it up. I try and use as many imaginative ways of using lino as I can. A lot of this project was done in weird and wonderful ways!
Is there anything to look out for in this project?
Well I’ve got 4 grandchildren, and you’ll find them in one of my pieces. One of the amazing things about that is that my granddaughter, Esther, is in the Isaiah 49 piece. I drew her before she was born but if you compare it to photos of her, the similarities are amazing.
I’m well over halfway through a series of pictures on Luke, having just finished Luke 18. I’ve done 80 lino cuts so far and I’ve estimated that I’ve got another 22 to go. A3 on A2 sheets of paper. They are far more simple than the Isaiah exhibit, as I’m a firm believer that simplicity is the best form of design for me! After this I’ve been thinking about doing Revelation purely in black and white. I’ve done a few sketches towards this but Revelation seems a bit like being right-handed and then trying to write with your left-hand so we shall see.
What would be your dream for these projects?
Can I enlarge that a bit? At the moment we’ve got many non-Christian artists, making art that’s as far away from God as you could possibly imagine. A man once said ‘Salvador Dali not only looked down the abyss but he jumped’. What I want to see is for Christian artists to rise up and become national and international influencers. We are made in God’s image, he is a creator God, so therefore we are a creative people.
What would you say to aspiring artists?
The first thing I would say is learn to draw. A lot of art schools at the moment do not teach drawing. This can sometimes be a controversial subject for churches but life drawing is important. You need to know how to draw the human figure, and to do that you’ve got to know what’s underneath my shirt to know how to draw my shirt on me.
I would also say to ask God whether it is really your calling. I knew at age 11 I would be an art teacher. One of the things I’ve been made for is to do these projects, to show God’s love and mercy and truth through a different way. I'd consider myself an evangelist, as I want to spread a message that speaks to the soul through my work. I'd encourage every other artist to feel the same way!
You can find Rob’s exhibit, ‘A Walk Through Isaiah’, on display in Hall 1 at the Catalyst Festival every day between 2-5pm.