This year, BBC One marks Easter with a two-part documentary series about painting the Holy Land, presented by Scottish artist and broadcaster, Lachlan Goudie. Biblical stories and settings have been commonplace in global visual culture, and they continue to be popular subject for artists, including Lachlan’s father (the renowned artist Alexander Goudie) who created a crucifixion series inspired by the Holy Land. While Alexander Goudie visited the sacred spot only in imagination, this weekend BBC One will shadow Lachlan as he discovers the Holy Land for himself, sketching and painting the people and landscapes that he sees.
The first episode will screen at 9am on Good Friday, and follows the last chapter of Jesus’ life on earth; the second episode will screen at the same time on Easter Sunday, and traces the story and cultural influence of the Virgin Mary. After tracing Jesus’ movements before his crucifixion, Lachlan will consider the discrepancy between Mary’s relative absence in the Bible and her ubiquitous representation in visual art, as he visits key locations in the story of Christ’s conception and birth.
Coinciding with the documentary, Mall Galleries has created a new selection of biblical and Easter themed works by Lachlan and his late father on Buy Art | Buy Now. Alexander Goudie worked across a range of mediums including clay sculpture, gouache, chalk, and acrylic paint, to create a body of striking works depicting biblical scenes. From familiar motifs such as the Mater Dolorosa (the sorrowful mother), the Pieta and the Crucifixion, to original compositions like Carrying the Crucifix, Alexander Goudie used blocks of muted colour and stylised monochromatic figures to produce iconic interpretations of religious narratives.
Alexander Goudie attained global fame with a painting series inspired by Robert Burns’ narrative poem, Tam o’ Shanter. As with these paintings, Goudie’s biblical works bear testament to the artist’s unique ability to translate literary into visual narrative, inflecting artistic expression whilst retaining all the essence and drama of his source texts.
Alexander’s son, Lachlan Goudie, also employs confident swathes of colour in his paintings of the Holy Land. Lachlan’s first work depicts the sea of Galilee, famous in art history as the setting of Rembrandt’s only seascape, ‘The Storm on the Sea of Galilee’, which was stolen in 1990 during the biggest art theft in US history. Where Rembrandt’s lost work is an epic image of Christ sailing upon storm-tossed seas, Lachlan’s painting is a much quieter portrayal of a modern-day fisherman, stretching out his net in a small dinghy. As a foil to the region’s grand narratives about the ‘fisher of men’, Lachlan’s fisherman reminds us that ordinary local people have always lived and worked in the Holy Land, creating their own narratives and experiences of place; Sea of Galilee quietly celebrates these individuals, and the gentle thrum of everyday life in this modern-ancient setting.
Lachlan’s panoramic painting, The Walls of Jerusalem, also presents a combination of tradition and modernity. Since ancient times, the city has been surrounded by walls which have been periodically ruined, rebuilt, and extended. The complex and often conflict-ridden history of the region is written into the patchwork of these defences. Yet Lachlan Goudie treats this subject with the dynamism and vibrancy of contemporary impressionism, using block colour and loose strokes to evoke the city as a living and amorphous organism. Through these works, as with his upcoming documentary, Goudie the Younger situates the Holy Land of the imagination in the contemporary everyday reality of place and people.