St. Paul’s Church

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The artist

Elizabeth Whitehouse

Elizabeth Whitehouse is a contemporary artist living in Pelsall. The human form became her primary interest after years of life drawing and, alongside her career in fashion and visual merchandising, she attended several courses at the St. Ives School of Painting, where she developed the skills and experience that show in her current practice. Taking inspiration from her old black and white family photograph album, she breathes new life into those portraits previously stored away or forgotten. From formal settings to candid beach scenes, she uses the facial expressions and poses of the figures to produce original and lively paintings. Retaining the element of nostalgia is important and also appeals to her love of vintage clothing. Her process begins in a sketchbook, planning a balanced composition and exploring colour choices. Then comes the moment when paint hits the paper and anything can happen! The unpredictability is both exciting and challenging - that’s what she loves about watercolours. In the final stages, she adds fine black lines to emphasise shifts in tone, giving movement to the image and keeping the eye engaged. These intuitive marks are her favourite part of the process and define her artistic voice.

The location

St Paul's ecclesiastical parish was formed in May, 1875. The original church, in St Paul's Close, was built in 1826 to the design of Francis Godwin, in the Greek Classical style. It was a chapel annexed to the Grammar School until it was sold to the townspeople in 1873. It was restored in 1874 and rebuilt, of stone in the Decorated style, in 1892, to the design of JL Pearson, ARA, and consists of a chancel with south aisle, clerestoried nave, aisles, transepts, north porch, and the base of a western tower. In the south aisle is a stained glass window presented by Job Wheway in memory of his daughter. Two stained glass windows in the chapel were presented by HJ Thurstans in memory of his father, and five windows in the chancel were presented by Mrs Hill in memory of her husband, TA Hill.

St Paul's is now both a church and multi-purpose community facility and is now known as 'The Crossing at St Paul's'. Viewed from the outside, The Crossing at St Paul’s looks like the classic Victorian church it once was, but inside you will find a truly unique project bringing together a wide variety of different elements needed by the community, from business and commerce to worship and weddings. The Crossing is an inspirational social enterprise company and exists to serve the community and put the Christian faith into practice. It is a company with a social conscience – it has an ethical trading policy, is committed to the Fairtrade and Make Poverty History movements and is actively involved in the regeneration of the town.