Meet Uniting Church artist Cees Sliedrecht, who was born and educated in The Netherlands. Cees moved from a career in business management and education about ten years ago to focus on the visual arts, including art tutoring Australia-wide and in Europe.
In the beginning
I mainly work in watercolour, using a detailed pen drawing as a basis. My style is both representational as well as abstracting. I use anything I feel inspired by as a topic, which could vary from landscape to cityscapes, from still life to active market scenes, from water scenes to figurative works. Everything is a story, a narrative where things are happening.
I started to focus more on religious art when Rev Dr David Pitman asked me in the early 2000s to do a series of six Stations of the Cross paintings for a permanent display in the Albert Street Uniting Church, Brisbane.
The experience was overwhelming and gave me inspiration to continue representing my faith through the arts. I became a member of the Christian art group Visionaries and regularly participate in their exhibitions.
How does your artwork intersect with your Christian faith?
It is a special sensation to read the scriptures and visualise what is written. One’s own faith allows one to pull things you know to the front and mix it with the new learning you receive though your research.
It is a challenge to mould all these ideas into a unity that is artistically responsible, easy flowing, harmoniously reaching out to the viewer.
Sometimes I move away from representing Jesus’ times and put Advent and Lent in contemporary society. Christ is past, present and future. Jesus does not need a beard, wavy hair or a super white Anglo Saxon skin. The paintings speak for themselves.
Which artworks do you consider to be your most significant?
I recently displayed about 25 artworks related to creation, the flood, Isaiah and the Easter and Christmas periods in the Vera Wade Gallery at Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church in Brisbane. This coincided with a book called Eye on Faith I printed.
The Stations of the Cross in Albert Street Uniting Church were seen by the parish priest of the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Jindalee and I received the commission to paint a series of stations.
I painted as a narrative the full 14 stations in pen and watercolour, and I believe that these works are the highlight of my career.
It is for me a blessing to be able to do this work, to be an instrument of better understanding of the scriptures and to open people’s minds to deepen their faith, their compassion, and through reflection and meditation to build a closer union with God.