Presence: Private View

P1430788Bishop Stephen Cottrell spoke at the well attended Private View for our ‘Presence’ exhibition held this evening at St Stephen Walbrook.

Picking up on the exhibition’s sub-title of ‘Visualising the Numinous’, Bishop Stephen began by reminding us of the phrase that ‘pictures are better on the radio.’ This is because, as we listen to the radio, we subconsciously construct our own visual landscapes. Similarly, he suggested, we might say that pictures are preferable to books as words are better in images. We enter into the landscape of a painting and in it construct our own philosophical or theological landscape.P1430778

He recalled that one of the mystics had said, ‘Where is the man without words, he is the one I wish to speak with.’ The Desert Fathers told a story of three novices who visited Fr. Anthony, one of whom sat in silence the entire time. When asked why by Fr. Anthony, he said, ‘It is enough just to see you.’ In this sense, seeing is believing. Pictures can have that visceral impact, as with Jean Lamb’s sculptures at the entrance to this exhibition. ‘Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi’ has been the Anglican tradition; as we pray, so we believe. When someone of faith produces a painting it is an act of prayer.

P1430759By way of illustration Bishop Stephen spoke briefly about images by Mark Rothko, Albert Herbert, Mark Cazalet, Jacob Epstein and Georges Rouault. His chosen images open up new vistas of meaning and interpretation by: inhabiting a complex narrative in a single image; meditating profoundly on the created order; revealing Christ in the shadows of society; and entering into the theological truth that seeing is believing.P1430766

‘Presence’ can be viewed at St Stephen Walbrook (London EC4N 8BN) until Friday 17 October, 10.00 am – 4.00 pm (closed on Saturdays and Sundays). The exhibition includes work by Ally Ashworth, Hayley Bowen, Harvey Bradley, Valerie Dean, Elizabeth Duncan Meyer, Jonathan Evens, John Gentry, Clorinda Goodman, Jean Lamb, Mark Lewis, David Millidge, Janet Roberts, Francesca Ross, Henry Shelton and Peter Webb. In addition to the exciting and varied work of commission4mission artists, visitors to the exhibition can view the splendour of this Christopher Wren designed building with its altar by Henry Moore and kneelers by Patrick Heron.