Sunderland vicar’s Starbucks protest inspires artwork

Artist Bruce Burn's pastel cross art work
Artist Bruce Burn's pastel cross art work
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A FORMER forensic artist has taken holy inspiration to create a new body of work.

Bruce Burn was inspired when he saw the Reverend Chris Howson paint an ash cross on Starbucks’ window as part of his fast for Lent.

Seaham artist Bruce Burn pictured hanging up a selection of his work in the Minster Cafe and Brasserie at Bishopwearmouth Church.

Seaham artist Bruce Burn pictured hanging up a selection of his work in the Minster Cafe and Brasserie at Bishopwearmouth Church.

The 59-year-old, of Seaham, said it gave him the idea of drawing his collection of crosses in pastel, to re-create the ash effect.

“I used soft pastel, which is like a dust after seeing that the Reverend had put ash on the window,” he said.

“Certain things that he said had relevance to my work, as well.

“The exhibition is called crosses. I looked at the cross and its inception in 312BC, and how it has been used since then.

“It has been used in different ethnic groups around the world, and in different ethnic groups in Sunderland such as Germanic, English and Celtic.

“I am particularly interested in the Germanic side of it, because I had 18th century relatives who settled in Sunderland. There was a large population of Germans who settled in the city.”

Bruce, who has both a BA and MA degree in Fine Art from Sunderland University, is a retired police officer.

“I have always been interested in art,” he said.

“I was a forensic artist for the police for years.

“I used to draw up pictures of criminals.

“Art runs in my family – my sister also has a BA in fine art – and we are both members of Assign Sunderland Art Society. My daughter has a BA in textile design and is a member of the Edinburgh Contemporary Textile Society.”

Bruce, who has yet to meet the Reverend Chris Howson, said Assign is sponsoring his exhibition, which will run until the end of the month at Sunderland Minster.

“I haven’t met him yet, but I am told I will meet him soon,” he said.

The Reverend Howson said: “It’s great that my Lenten fast has inspired his work.

“It’s lovely. The ashing has been influential to lots of people.

“And, what’s also inspiring is that the gospel is still having an inspirational effect on those people who want to look into it after all these hundreds of years.”

The Crosses exhibition will be on display in Sunderland Minster Cafe until the end of March.