When I first saw Didcot power station through the window of a train from Oxford to Paddington, the smoke belching from the central chimney reminded me more of a crematorium than a symbol of God’s presence. And yet having said that, the astonishing sky behind the towers looked like the arch of some great cathedral, while something in the scale of the cooling towers themselves, with the light moving across them and the steam slowly, elegiacally, drifting away, created the impression that they were somehow the backdrop of a great religious drama.
Another of his pictures putting a Biblical scene in a contemporary setting is ‘Abraham and the angels’, also on the paintings page, bottom right picture:
…a cement factory in the Syrian desert stands in for Sodom and Gomorrah- but the focus is on a foreground inspired by memories of the hospitality of the Syrian Bedouin. Almost the only place in which the New Testament seems to refer to this story in Genesis, is when it advises Christians not to forget to entertain strangers “for by doing so some have entertained angels without knowing it”. The presence of strangers, it seems to suggest, can be a doorway into the presence of God.