Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Spirit of Colin McCahon

The Spirit of Colin McCahon by Zoe Alderton provides a vivid historical contextualisation of New Zealand's premier modern artist, clearly explaining his esoteric religious themes and symbols. 

Via a framework of visual rhetoric, this book explores the social factors that formed McCahon's religious and environmental beliefs, and justifications as to why his audience often missed the intended point of spiritual his discourse - or chose to ignore it. 

The Spirit of Colin McCahon tracks the intricate process by which the artist's body of work turned from optimism to misery, and explains the many communicative techniques he employed in order to arrest suspicion towards his Christian prophecy. 

More broadly, The Spirit of Colin McCahon outlines a model of analysis for the intersection of art and religion, and the place of images as rhetorical devices within Antipodean culture. The emerging field of religion and visual culture is important not only to students of New Zealand art history, but also to a growing field of appreciation for the communicative power of images. This book provides a helpful model for examining art and literature as social and religious tools, and advances the importance of visual rhetoric within studies of art and social expression.


Dave Dobbyn - Song Of The Years.

Speaking in tongues

Art Below's Stations of the Cross exhibition at Marylebone Parish Church may be over but Paul Benney's 'Speaking in Tongues' and ‘St. Jude Thaddeus’ from his 12 Apostle series remain on display through May 2015.

The subjects of 'Speaking in Tongues' are all friends and contemporaries of the artist, and are depicted as the Apostles with Pentecostal flames hovering above them. The reflective surface allows the viewer to appear to be part of the group in an extraordinary and thought-provoking way. Benney's depiction of light emanating from the head as an animation of the spirit has echoes in the imagery of many different religions and is a particular fascination for Benney. 

'Speaking in Tongues' follows on thematically from the major exhibition of Benney's widely publicised show Night Paintings at Somerset House, where he is an artist-in-residence. The work brings together Benney's talents as both a contemporary artist and one of the UK's most celebrated portrait painters.


Talking Heads - This Must Be The Place.

Windows on the world (335)

London, 2015


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Visual meditation: 'Solo' by Marlene Dumas

My latest visual meditation for ArtWay focuses on Marlene Dumas' Solo, a crucifixion image which can currently be seen in Dumas' retrospective at Tate Modern entitled The Image as Burden.

In this meditation I say that:

'Solo, and the other Crucifixions from this show, are images of aloneness. Christ and his cross exist in voids of darkness or light. In Solo the dark cross fills the white void, while Christ is compressed and condensed at the pinnacle of the painting and at the point of death; a defeated, forsaken, tragic figure. As with many of Dumas’ images, these Crucifixions are meditations on the depths of human suffering; homo homini lupus est, ‘man is a wolf to man’.'


Torres - New Skin.

Where is God at Work?

Difficult boss; annoying colleagues; boring work? Asked to work harder and harder; told by your manager to lie; tempted to do something bad? 

Where is God at Work? by Will Morris will help you think through the calling to be a Christian at work by showing how God can be unexpectedly present even in the most difficult people and dilemmas. Work can become a place where you can exercise your talents, positively influence your business, and be a witness to Christ just by being who you are.

Will Morris is a priest and a tax lawyer (a combination that strikes some as odd). He is Director, Global Tax Policy, in GE (General Electric’s) corporate tax department. He also chairs the CBI and BIAC Taxation Committees. He was ordained as a priest in the Church of England in 2010, and is a colleague of mine as a member of the clergy team at St Martin-in-the-Fields

On his new blog Will writes:

'Many people wonder whether and how God is with them, at work, during the week. Many workplaces don’t feel that great, don’t feel like places of opportunity. There can be enormous tension. Tyrannical bosses. Horrible colleagues. Stupid, pointless, meaningless rules. Long hours. Little sympathy or empathy. The threat of redundancy.

All of these things can make the workplace seem a bit of a nightmare. So, how on earth can God be there – or is work simply the place where you go to earn the money that you can then spend in order to be able to forget it ? I believe there’s more to it than that. That, with God, the workplace can become a place of almost limitless opportunity where you can work with him in his ongoing act of creation. You can make things and provide services that people need, but you can also help your fellow workers who are hurting, and, even if only in small ways, help and encourage your business to be just that bit better.

But to do this you need to exercise your imagination to think about how God might be present in such an apparently unlikely place. The Old Testament story of “Jacob’s Ladder” helps me. In that story, Jacob, on the run from his brother Esau whom he has cheated out of a blessing, lies down in the middle of absolutely nowhere. There’s nothing special, and he’s nothing special. He’s not a saint, and there’s no church, no altar. And yet in this place, in his sleep he sees a ladder appear from heaven with angels ascending and descending. And God makes him incredible, wonderful promises about the future. When Jacob wakes up he exclaims: “Surely the Lord is in this place – and I did not know it!” Might your work place not be the same? It can be – if only you are prepared to be surprised!'


Bill Fay - City Of Dreams.

Who Is The Sender?

In the latest edition of Uncut several musicians speak about the spirituality of music.

One of the feature articles explores the making of many of Van Morrison's best albums from Astral Weeks (Lewis Merenstein - '... it was immediately clear to me that he was being born again') to Back on Top (Walter Samuel - 'I'm not sure how he does it... it just comes out of him. It just happens'). From the musicians who played on these albums there is much talk about 'looking for the spark,' 'channelling,' 'transcendental telepathy,' and 'intuitive communication'. When he channelled or connected with the spark Morrison set everyone else on fire so that the atmosphere was truly transcendental.

In his interview Morrison describes this as 'creating space.' The key to the creation of space - the stretching out of time - is listening, watching and absorbing. Most musicians, he says, don't understand this. They 'might be great technically; but they don't have the feeling;' the ability to listen in order to be in the same space and have 'a collective experience,' The phrase he regularly used for the times 'when he felt it was working' was, 'I think it's all coming together.'

My co-authored book with Peter Banks, The Secret Chord, is essentially an extended exploration of this experience common to artists and musicians, which is often described in spiritual terms, of things coming together - gelling, coalescing - into something greater than the sum of its parts.

Jef Labes, a longtime associate of Morrison, notes that:

'He once said to me that he sees all his work as variations on one piece of music that he channels. He doesn't sit down and work on songs, he gets a rush of energy. He'll grab a guitar and start playing, switch on a recording device, and whatever comes out, he'll write down. It arrives as almost a complete work ... when that goes away he's sad and exhausted, and when it's there, when he's visited by the spirit, he's compelled to get it out. It's scary. He has no idea where it comes from.'

The song 'Who Is The Sender?' on Bill Fay's latest album is about this same phenomenon, which Fay sees as 'songfinding' rather than songwriting:

'Ask Bill Fay about his relationship with his instrument and he says something revealing, not "Ever since I learnt to play the piano", but "Ever since the piano taught me..."

What the piano taught him was how to connect to one of the great joys of his life. "Music gives," he says. And he is a grateful receiver. But, it makes him wonder, "Who is the sender?" ...

joy and sadness are indeed deep in this material, which Bill describes as "alternative gospel". Though it clearly stems from his belief, he doesn't seek to proselytise or convert anybody, but just hopes to share the concerns he puts into the words and the feelings that he receives from the music: 

"Goodness, beauty, comfort. If something gives in the world, that's a good thing, isn't it? Maybe that's what music wants to do."'


Van Morrison - Listen To The Lion.

Friday, 27 March 2015

CANA Cambodia 2015 conference

Steve Scott writes:

"CANA stands for Christian Artists Networking Association, and we are committed to learning better ways of networking and empowering artists in different parts of the world. To that end we have organized conferences in Thailand, Bali and Bulgaria, with participants from Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and America.

This is an update on our proposed Cambodia 2015 conference. We are looking at the week of the 22-29 of August.

Some have indicated that an `entire week’ might not be possible for them and have suggested having the conference (or the main part at least) over a FOUR DAY period ending on 29th. (if this your situation, please let me know….)

We will be based in Phnom Penh. Once we conclude with Phnom Penh we have the option of additional days in Siem Reap. (there is much to learn there!! Can you join us for additional days? Please let me know!!))

This CANA arts conference in 2015 will offer a valuable experience for both CANA international artists and creatives, as well as local/Cambodian artists learning and growing in faith. As we talk to each other, and share work and ideas, we will have opportunity to reflect upon Cambodia’s cultural heritage…. its recent history, and its hope and aspirations for a flourishing future. We will consider these things together in the light of our shared Christian faith.

There will be teaching and performances from Cambodian Christian Arts Ministry
CANA Philippines….and others.

Many of you have expressed interest in being there, and sharing your work as part of the program. Many others are in our larger database and would perhaps consider In order to finalize plans and make accommodation arrangements we need firm numbers and commitments to work with as we continue to talk with local groups and organizations. We want to keep `in land costs’ DOWN but in order to do that we need to hear from YOU.

We need your help in finalizing the plans!!

We are assessing accommodation needs (headcount) local transport needs, and also need to hear how long you can join us for (up to and including Siem Reap: Please indicate)

Please let us know by MARCH 30th if you are truly able to join us. The response to this 30th March deadline is growing. It is going to be an interesting conference based on the variety of participants sharing so far ......

If you have questions, please get in touch"


Steve Scott - When World's Collide.