“The Canticle of the Creatures,” a poem of praise for the natural world was written by St. Francis of Assisi in 1226 and is considered one of the first works of Italian literature; because of his focus on the environment, Francis has been called “the patron saint of ecology.”
Jane Beckwith, currently artist in residence at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica, has created a book showing Francis’s Canticle, illustrated with drypoint etchings of animals that symbolize each stanza.
As many projects in Beckwith’s art practice are devoted to ecological concerns, she has also chosen to illustrate this stanza:-
‘Laudato si’ mi’ Signore, per sora nostra matre terra,
la quale ne sustenta et governa,
et produce diversi fructi con coloriti flori et herba.’
These illustrations are collograph prints; blue plastic barrels, overprinted with screenprints of falling rain. The barrels are recycled food shipping containers, the type used by Italian farmers, devoted to saving rainwater.
Beckwith says. “I believe Francis would have appreciated the efforts of individual farmers and gardeners to prize water, the resource he celebrated in the ‘Canticle’, using recycled containers which double the value to ‘mother earth” .