Christine Wilson believes that all her life has been marked by the desire to create, paint and produce with her own hands. This desire has been fulfilled through stained glass making and watercolour, two art media which depend on transparency but also use a wide range of colours, from the most powerful to the most delicate. The human figure, architecture and the natural world, especially birds and flowers, are the most featured themes of Wilson’s work.
Since 2009, Christine Wilson has been working on a series of paintings inspired by aspects of medieval and Eastern art and related to the subjects of music and women. In particular, the Cantigas de Santa Maria (‘Canticles of Holy Mary’) from the Libro de la música, a series of thirteenth-century manuscripts with musical notation written in Galician-Portuguese during the reign of Alfonso X of Castile, have provided the artist with a point of reference for her work Woman, Music and Art in which we can see the influence of the technique of window-making. In this sries of paintings, Wilson has reelected on the role of women in society and on the qualities of tolerance and equality.
The Cantigas comprised a repertoire of Galician and pilgrim’s songs collected by Galician minstrels. Some of these songs were written by Alfonso X and others by troubadours such as Ayras Nunes. Together they constitute a corpus of four-hundred and twenty-six musical verses dedicated to the Virgin Mary and taking the form of songs of praise known as ‘loors’ or, occasionally, of narrations of the Virgin’s miracles.
As Christine Wilson observes, these songs are accompanied by an early form of musical notation and illustrated by miniatures featuring Christian, Jewish and Arab musicians playing bowed or fretted and stringed instruments and wind and percussion instruments that have been preserved to this day, including the mandora, the guitar-like vihuela, the lute, the psaltery (similar to the harp or zither), the harp, the dulzaina (a double reed instrument) and the pandero frame drum.
Alfonso X promoted the sharing of scholarly knowledge, and his particular interest in doing this went beyond Christian culture to Islam, a response to the constant presence at the court of Castile of Muslim scholars in various fields of learning, including doctors, linguists, architects, and musicians. The Cantigas were also created in a period of history characterized by its singular degree of political, cultural, religious and social tolerance, and in her work Wilson makes this particularly clear, as well as the various paradoxes that can emerge in any comparison of such a period with our own modern world. The artist is also clearly drawn to medieval art and culture in the form of the stained glass of this period and to the illustrations in the Cantigas themselves.
In conclusion, in Woman, Musica and Art Christine Wilson combines many of her interests, from stained glass to the human figure, architecture, flowers and music; but more than this, and as the artist herself says, these paintings mark a new period in her artistic development.