Newsletter No. 3 – August 2009

West Ham Festival exhibition


Three exhibitions at three Festivals

Our first three exhibitions were held within a three month period as part of the Pentecost, West Ham and Leytonstone Festivals. Exhibiting artists included: Harvey Bradley, Anne Creasey, Michael J. Creasey, Jonathan Evens, David Hawkins, Rosalind Hore, Henry Shelton, Peter Shorer, Joy Rousell Stone and Peter Webb. The reaction from both the churches involved and from those visiting the exhibitions was very positive. All Saints West Ham have, as a result, offered us a permanent exhibition space.

Mark Lewis, Rosalind Hore & Jonathan Evens at the Leytonstone networking event


Spirituality – the heartbeat of Art?

Our exhibition at St Andrews Leytonstone also included a successful Art & Spirituality networking evening where we debated the question, ‘Spirituality – the heartbeat of Art?’

Helen Gould, Refresh Project Development Worker at St Andrews, opened the event by saying that the networking event and exhibition launched a new creative programme – Reflect – which will run alongside their newly opened café, Refresh. Their intention being to offer a spiritual haven to the local community.

The evening continued with presentations from three commission4mission artists. Rosalind Hore spoke about her work as the exaggeration of emotion. She reflected on the way in which the medium affects the means by which she conveys emotion; working in clay affords more detail, while working in plaster or concrete requires sweeping lines and folds. She also described her functional work for church festivals and the way in which worship often inspired images and new work.

Mark Lewis spoke about spirituality in art as a sense of aliveness. He highlighted the very different work of Mark Rothko and Stanley Spencer, speaking about the sense of contemplation induced by Rothko’s work and the sense of heaven in the ordinary in Spencer’s. In speaking of his own work he described his sense of absorption in and fusion with the work as a spiritual experience.

Jonathan Evens argued that, despite reluctance among art critics and tutors to note or engage with religious themes and imagery, there is nevertheless a prevalence of religious themes and imagery to be found in modern and contemporary art. He gave a brief and partial alternative history of modern and contemporary art to illustrate this argument and suggested that this prevalence of themes and images does indicate that spirituality remains a significant inspiration of the visual arts.

Summaries of these three presentations can be found by clicking here, here and here. They led on to vigorous debate which covered the following issues:

• the extent to which spirituality should be the starting point for an artist’s work or conversely whether spirituality could emerge from the artist’s handling of form;
• the extent to which non-religious themes can convey a sense of spirituality;
• the extent to which traditional religious iconography still connects with the general public or whether artists should seek to create new imagery and forms for the truths of their faith;
• the extent to which the artist bears the potential audience for the work in mind while creating or is absorbed in the work itself without consideration of outside influences;
• the extent to which it is better to display spiritual art within churches or out in the public realm;
• ways of countering the perceived lack of interest or understanding of spirituality within the art world generally; and
• the need for examples of good practice and networks of artists with an interest in both art and spirituality.

Perspectives on commissioning Christian Art

The programme for our Study Day entitled ‘Perspectives on commissioning Christian Art’ has been finalised. Taking place on Saturday 7th November at Chelmsford Cathedral (New Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1TY) from 10.00am – 2.30pm , it follows our showcase exhibition in the Cathedral (Monday 2nd – Saturday 7th November, Cathedral opening times).

The programme is as follows:

9.45am – Registration & refreshments;
10.00am – Welcome & Introduction to commission4mission;
10.20am – The Very Revd. Peter Judd, Dean of Chelmsford Cathedral – ‘Experiences of commissioning art for Church & Cathedral’;
10.50am – Dr James Bettley, Chair of Chelmsford DAC – ‘Commissioning & the Faculty process’;
11.20am – Three commission4mission artists to be interviewed about their experiences of commissioning;
12 noon – Midday Prayers, Lunch break & Exhibition viewing;
1.00pm – Q&A session involving Peter Judd, Dr. James Bettley & the three artists;
1.45pm – Rt. Revd. David Hawkins, Bishop of Barking – ‘A Vision for the commissioning of contemporary Christian Art’;
2.15pm – Q&A session with Bishop David;
2.30pm: Close & Exhibition take-down.

To book a place or for more information, contact Jonathan Evens on 020 8599 2170 or jonathan.evens@btinternet.com.

First Station produced by Henry Shelton for the St Pauls Goodmayes commission


Two commissions

Our first two commissions have been over a year in negotiation but are currently in preparation. The first, is a set of fifteen Stations of the Cross by Henry Shelton for St Pauls Goodmayes (see left for example), which includes a central tryptich incorporating three stations and a resurrection station. The second is for two paintings by Henry Shelton (Crucifixion and Do this in remembrance of me) for the St Lukes Prayer Room at Queens Hospital Romford. This latter commission may also be expanded to include an additional piece by Henry and a sculpture by Rosalind Hore.

‘St George and the Dragon’ by Peter Webb
Member profile: Peter Webb
Peter Webb is a Fine Artist and former Head of Art at the Bishop Stopford School. His commissions include paintings of St George and the Supper at Emmaus for the school. He has painted many portraits of staff at the School and created a statue of Bishop Stopford from papier-mâché on a galvanised chicken-wire frame. His painting of The Betrayal can be viewed at St Marys Woodford. Peter is a member of Faith & Image and has contributed to community arts initiatives including a mobile created as part of the 2008 Woodford Festival.