Our chat with artist Fiona Pfennigwerth helps to shed a different light on the Bible. After seven years of dedication, Fiona has created a book that intertwines artistic beauty and deep insights of the Bible. The Scrolls Illuminated explores love, kindness, tragedy, God's character and the quest for life's purpose.
Alongside the text are beautiful, incricate illustrations of unique Australian nature. Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, states that "In her calligraphy and painting, Fiona Pfennigwerth draws us into the 'beauty of holiness': sheer gift."
It was no easy task. Fiona spent years thinking through the text, walking in the bush for inspiration and waiting for the right seasons to aid in her illustrations. Using the Manuscript Discover (MD) method to study the Bible, she took time to get into the space of the text and illustrations. In the MD approach, a book of the Bible is typed out without chapters or verses to reflect its original format. It was through teaching this approach at camps that Fiona began to see God's word as a beautiful piece of craftmanship.
Additionally, while studying Natural History Illustration at the University of Newcastle, Fiona picked up crafts that are seldom taught in art colleges. Having realised that the world is constantly assaulted by ugly connotations and situations, she became determined to show others the intricate beauty of the world through her work.
From that desire and a strong belief in God, Fiona set out to create The Scrolls Illuminated, covering five books of the Bible that have remained relevant in contemporary Jewish culture. Song of Songs is a celebration of romantic love; Ruth, a story of faith, faithfulness and God working behind scenes; Lamentations, a model that encourages us to share our deepest thoughts with the Lord; Ecclesiastes, a book that teaches us to be content and to see life as a gift and Esther, a story that tells of how God works through circumstances.
In The Scrolls Illuminated, Fiona records her first reactions and raw emotions that were evoked by these Old Testament books. This work of art reveals a God whose creation seems unnecessarily beautiful; He is indeed a God of extravagance and unspeakable joy. To find out more, visit Fiona's website.