Towards a Promised Land: On the life and art of Colin McCahon, by Gordon H. Brown (Auckland University Press, 2010) hardback, colour plates and illustrations, 216 pp., $79.99
Evangelism takes strange forms. Arthur Stace, a former alcoholic who became a Christian, spent thirty-seven years chalking the word ‘Eternity’ in beautiful copperplate onto the pavements of Sydney before his death in 1967. Toss Woollaston’s uncle, Frank, was another eccentric evangelist. One of the illustrations in Gordon H. Brown’s
Towards a Promised Land: On the Life and Art of Colin McCahon is of Colin McCahon’s ‘A Painting for Uncle Frank’, a late work (1980) containing (written in white paint over a black background) a quotation from the New English Bible’s Book of Ecclesiastes, which includes the words ‘Those who refuse to hear the oracle speaking on earth find no escape.’ McCahon met Uncle Frank a number of times during the late 1930s and early 1940s at Toss Woollaston’s house in Motueka, and was fascinated by Uncle Frank’s ‘teaching aids’: his naïve paintings of simple Christian symbols, part of his itinerant preaching paraphernalia which he insisted on pinning to the walls of Toss Woollaston’s home whenever he was visiting, much to his nephew’s irritation.