Artist Donna Hogan and St. John’s United Church Rev. Matt Fillier stand below the newly installed fabric art banners inside the church. The design shows how the church is becoming diverse and how everyone has a place in it. (Healey photo)

FALL RIVER: A local artist’s pieces of work will leave a lasting legacy inside St. John’s United Church (SJUC) for years to come.

Donna Hogan is the brains behind the fabric art banner with fish net inside the church—an idea that Rev. Matt Fillier said has been percolating within the congregation for some 20 years. And now a year after first talks with Hogan began, the idea has become reality and been welcomed with much enthusiasm from those attending the church.

“It’s been great to hear all the positive comments,” said Hogan. “I loved the energy that was in the church on Sunday (Nov. 19).”

She thinks she has put approximately 400 hours into the creation of each banner, making square by square—but that’s a number Rev. Fillier feels is just a bit low. He believes it’s more up around 500-plus.

“It could be more,” she said jokingly.

Hogan, from Wellington, said the idea came from a discussion with Fillier. In that chat he had said the banners should be something to do with water; St John the Baptist.

“I didn’t want to do anything literal, I didn’t want to have people in it,” she said. “I wanted it to be more symbolic.I just love the scenery so I did water, trees, the sky, and then I wanted the congregation to have some part in it. That’s why I picked water and fish.”

After helping to put the fish up in the net on the banners, she got off the lift and went to look at what the final product looked like.

“I thought it was amazing,” she said. “It’s incredible. I can’t believe my eyes.”

From a little picture to reality is something that is amazing for Hogan. It took a lot of working with mathematics.

“I could never actually see it all together because it was so big until it was put up there,” said Hogan. “I’m happy with it. Usually when I look at something I’ve done I pick out the flaws.”

Rev. Fillier said the banners is a legacy gift for the church. There are close to 100 fish in the net with more to come. Some are creative like the lobster that has a smaller fish in it’s claws.

“I think its a legacy gift not just for the people who are here today, but for all future generations to inspire people to think about what our spirituality means,” he said. “It’s endlessly inspiring because it’s a living piece of work and changes over time.”

Hogan said she really likes how involved the congregation was in the project.

“It’s so creative, I just can’t believe what they came up with,” she said. “I just keep looking at every fish and being amazed.”

There have been a lot of people who provided push and help to the project, said Rev. Fillier. Among those were the church assistant Susan Dekker-Inkpen; as well as volunteer helpers in hanging the banners John Blair and Richard Joudrey.

Rev. Fillier said the church has had a lot of people pass through all coming in for a gander at it.

“We’ve had people coming in just wanting to see it and what we are doing,” he said with a chuckle.

He said the timing was right after having hummed about doing this for the past 20 years.

“The time was right,” he said. “This does speak to the diversity we see in the church and that everyone has a place in this. It’s like the church; it changes over time.”

“We all swim together.”