‘Creation’ exhibition: Holy Trinity Sloane Square

Images of AI and genetic engineering are not among those usually found in churches. Hayley Bowen’s ‘Man creating man in the guise of healing’ is a triptych illustrating transhumanism in relation to medicine and its link to covert eugenics, exsoskeletal and organ manipulation, cybernetics and eventually new humanoid creation. The work is currently at Holy Trinity Sloane Square. The artist asks,’ Is this interfering with God’s plans, or do we not understand his plans?’

The triptych, she says, is: ‘simply a graphic interpretation of the issues we face when we interfere with natural evolution. The laws of nature should naturally de-populate, with human development accelerating, but now we know that we are becoming sicker and weaker, as we are nearing overpopulation. Our existence does not make sense, unless we are working to an end or exist for a higher power, prisoners of our physical body.’

‘Creation’ is a group show by commission4mission artists that was first at All Hallows by the Tower and now is at Holy Trinity Sloane Square. The group was formed to help revive and encourage the practice of commissioning and placing works of contemporary art in churches and other public places. For this exhibition a mix of abstract and representational imagery has been created, utilising assemblage, ceramics, digital illustration, drawing, painting, puppetry and sculpture.

Mark Lewis, commission4mission’s Chair, says: ‘We have encouraged our artists to reflect broadly on the theme and 25 artists have responded with imagery that ranges from depictions of the Genesis Creation stories to Christ’s birth and our recreation through redemption, by way of flower studies, the creation of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance, and future creation using AI and genetic engineering.’

As with Bowen, David Millidge is also unafraid to grapple with weighty themes, in his case violence and death. His fragmented pots utilise images from The Church of Spilled Blood in St Petersburg, the creation of a memorial to the assassinated Emperor Alexander II. Millidge’s new ceramic sculpture ‘Gassed’ also deals in death being inspired by a painting of the same name by John Singer Sargent which hangs in the National War Museum. ‘Gassed’ is ultimately about the creation of the poppy logo as a symbol of rebirth and remembrance.

Michael Garaway is a mixed media artist who finds continual inspiration in urban landscape and new technologies to inform and produce his atmospheric and semi abstract work. He says, ‘I see creation as an on-going interactive process, which involves exploring and attempting to understand ways of ordering the world, and our views of the world.’ His work orders the appearances of specific locations with the use of grid and pattern. Divisions and multiples of a 12mm grid are used to develop and fix compositions, and Celtic step and knot patterns are incorporated in some of the work, linking to a much earlier Christian practice of illumination.

Clorinda Goodman’s ‘Ancilla Domini’ is a resin cast, a hexagonal representation of the Biblical moment when Eve disobeyed God’s command not to touch the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, which led, not only to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, but the growth of the human race and expansion of God’s creation through the world. Thus Eve, as well as the Virgin Mary, is seen as the ‘Handmaid of the Lord’ in fulfilling God’s purposes for his creation. 

‘Christ & Cephas’ by John Gentry is a work about forgiveness, restoration and redemption. In John 21 we read of Peter being restored, forgiven, and, commissioned. In John’s image the triangle on the left of Christ is both Trinity and Fire. The pillar in the centre is the Pillar of Fire by night. Christ’s wounded hand is upon Cephas’ shoulder. Peter holds in his hand a net. In the net are fish, but also tin cans, plastic, glass bottles. The re-creation has been made possible by the redeeming work of Christ who commissions his body to proclaim and live Gospel. The rubbish is a type of sin. What a mess! “Who shall deliver us…?” Alleluia, says John, for saving grace!

Sculptor Deborah Harrison, in ‘Born Again’, gives us a body emerging from an egg, while Italian artists Laura Grenci and Maurizio Galia focus on water and music respectively as sources of creation.

Lewis Braswell, Mary Flitcroft and Jacqui Parkinson are exhibiting with commission4mission for the first time. Lewis Braswell sees creativity as mimicry of the acts of the Creator. Ultimately, he wants to remind the viewer of his or her relationship in the divine dialogue among God and people and to lead that viewer into deliberate conversation. Mary Flitcroft is a ceramic artist whose work is contemplative and abstract. She currently works with porcelain paper clay in very thin, translucent sheets which she folds, tears, cuts, marks and stains with colours. Her work is contemplative and abstract. Jacqui Parkinson produces artwork with textiles – usually on a large scale – for public buildings and her work has regularly toured cathedrals. Jacqui uses a powerful graphic instinct together with the intimacy of the hand-stitched line to create work that feels highly spontaneous, very lively, moving and thoroughly engaging. Her work is designed to catch the eye and challenge the mind.

‘Creation’, a group show by commission4mission artists at  Holy Trinity Sloane Square from Tuesday 29 October to Saturday 9 November 2019. The exhibition can be viewed from 10.00am to 4.00pm.