SEVEN SAXON KINGS PROJECT
The Seven Saxon Kings project forms part of the restoration of All Saints Church, Kingston-upon-Thames. In 2014-15, the church ran a national competition to find an artist to design seven panels, illustrating the lives of seven Saxon kings crowned in Kingston. Entrants were asked to submit one fully designed panel, and sketches outlining their ideas for the other panels. The designs are to be rendered in tapestry or embroidery, and displayed in seven arched panel spaces on the East wall of the church.
Sophia won the competition with her design depicting Ethelred the Unready (the last of the seven kings) and sketches for the other six kings. Since then she has worked up the remaining six panels into final designs, using a combination of inks, charcoal, and acrylic. The designs incorporate historical details informed by analysis of medieval chronicles; but also rely on imagination, in order to resolve gaps in historical knowledge and bring together a visual concept.
The Ethelred panel (below) shows the king with waves crashing over his shoulders, to symbolise the near-constant attack by Vikings which defined his reign. Ethelred’s cloak, which resembles the East coast of Britain, burns; and his outstretched hand pours away money into a whirlpool, illustrating his repeated attempts to buy off the invaders.