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A Continuing Message…

Edith Blackwell Holden (1871–1920) was a British artist and part-time art teacher, known in her time as an illustrator of children’s books. She specialised in painting animals and plants and became famous through her posthumous publication in 1977 of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. She lived on Kineton Green Road, opposite The Olton Project and worshipped at the former Church. Edith and her family were Unitarians and therefore believed in the Oneness of God rather than the trinity as recognised by other Christian denominations. Unitarians recognise Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him) as a Prophet and Saviour, in line with Muslim belief. It is very likely that Edith and her family were living in a period of ‘Ahlul Fatra’; a time between Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them) without having received the message of Islam. Edith’s spirituality shone through in her passion of nature and spilled out onto the pages of her diary. A collection of her drawings, poems and short passages became a world-wide best seller. She found beauty in every aspect of the English countryside, making notes and drawings of common trees, birds and fruits without making the mistake of equating their commonness with a lack of specialness. God in the Qur’an encourages us to reflect on nature around us;

{And the Earth, We spread it out, and cast therein firmly set mountains and We have made to grow therein of all beautiful kinds; to give sign and as a reminder to every servant who turns to God}

50:78

{He causes to grow for you thereby herbage, and the olives, and the palm trees, and the grapes, and of all the fruits; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who reflect.}

16:11

{He created the heavens without pillars as you see them, and put mountains upon the Earth lest it might convulse with you, and He spread it with animals of all kinds; and We sent down water from the clouds, then caused to grow therein (vegetation) of every noble kind.}

31:10

Edith was an example of a person who reflected on the beautiful variation of creation and its indication towards the Creator. Al-Ghazali famously said, ‘And in all things is a sign, that indicates to His Oneness.’ 

The Olton Project is honoured to have been approached by Solihull Council and Broomdasher, a six-voice acapella folk group from London, to host a celebration of Edith’s life, through poetry and song on Saturday 7th March. Broomdasher have earned an outstanding reputation for their harmonies and their recordings are part of the National Sound Archive at the British Library. This concert is a beautiful way of honouring Edith, The Olton Project’s past history and a continued message of spirituality through observation of the wondrous world around us. 

By Daniel Jackson