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Sunday, 17 June 2018

Pilgrimage art exhibition for The Alban Pilgrimage





commission4mission’s next exhibition will be at St Saviour’s Church (25 Sandpit Lane, St Albans AL1 4DF) for the Alban Pilgrimage. The Alban Pilgrimage takes place annually and is held in honour of the city’s namesake, St Alban, who died on 22nd June over 1700 years ago.

Entitled ‘Pilgrimage’, our exhibition, from 23rd – 30th June (9.00am – 5.00), will feature work by: Hayley Bowen; Harvey Bradley; Irina Bradley; Lucy Crabtree; Valerie Dean; MaryJean Donaghey; Jonathan Evens; Michael Garaway; Clorinda Goodman; Deborah Harrison; Anthony Hodgson; David Millidge; Adeliza Mole; Dorothy Morris; and Victoria Norton. The exhibition includes ceramics, paintings, sculptures and an installation.
commission4mission’s secretary, Revd Jonathan Evens, says: ‘Our exhibition gives personal insights into what pilgrimage means to the artists involved. David Millidge has been directly inspired by the martyrdom of St Alban, while others have treated the theme in terms of pilgrimage more generally or have been inspired by the journeys of other figures from Church history.’

Hayley Bowen writes that her painting ‘6 years and 26 miles’ depicts the pilgrimage of 15 year old Mary Jones, a girl from a poor Welsh family, who in the year 1800 walked 26 miles barefoot to the town of Bala (and back again) across rough countryside to buy a copy of the Welsh language Bible from The Rev.Thomas Charles after saving up for one for six years. The story inspired the founding of the British and Foreign Bible Society.

Michael Garaway says of ‘Steperegrin’, the new work he has prepared for this exhibition: ‘Eighty eight hours over six weeks, a step pattern combined with a diagrammatic motif, suggestive of mazes, wandering pathways, maps, circuits, and with hints of landscape, this is “Steperegrin”. It combines three grids at varying angles to form the motif. The title refers to the use of a celtic step pattern, and also to an older term “peregrinate” or “peregrination”, which came to mean journeying abroad, hence the link to ideas of pilgrimage.’

Sculptor Clorinda Goodman was inspired to produce her sculpture of St Cedd following a visit to Chelmsford Cathedral. She saw their window of Cedd in the chapel depicting the saint nearer the end of his life and wanted to create a piece to reflect his younger life. Many of the images carved into his hair are like a pictogram, telling the story of his life, apart from the end of his life at Lastingham. The images on the left depict Lindisfarne, the boat in which he sailed to Essex, the Chapel at Bradwell and the Synod of Whitby. On the right he has the keys of St Peter to symbolise the outcome of the Synod – i.e. following the Roman rather than Celtic/Irish church. His hair turns into waves on the left, and on the right it turns into fire for the Holy Spirit.

Concerts will be held at St Saviour’s during the period of the exhibition on Saturday 23rd and 30th June:


commission4mission was formed in 2009 to help revive and encourage the practice of commissioning and placing works of contemporary art in churches and other public places. To enable this, we have a growing pool of professional artist members working in a variety of media and styles. Through art, we support churches in their ongoing mission, and also charities, as each year part of the proceeds from commissions is donated. Since 2014 we have built an ongoing, mutual relationship with the Oasis Trust. Oasis aims to create safe places where everyone is included, where everyone has a chance to contribute and reach their God-given potential. See https://www.commission4mission.org/.

St Saviour’s is a welcoming and inclusive Christian community built on the understanding that God accepts us equally, irrespective of gender, sexuality, race, social standing or belief - and believing that God calls us equally to share that unconditional love with all people, without exception. It is the Church of England parish church for the Bernards Heath area of St Albans, and pastorally serves the Marshalswick South Ward. Established originally as a daughter church of St Leonard’s in Sandridge during the city’s expansion in the Victorian era, St Saviour’s has always been in the Anglo-Catholic tradition of Anglican spirituality and worship. See http://www.ssaviours.org/.

The Alban Pilgrimage starts at 11.00am at St Peter’s Church, St Albans. Stunning 12-ft tall carnival puppets and a procession of around 300 children, teenagers and adults from the local community dramatize the tale of Alban’s martyrdom, with the final scene taking place at the West End of St Albans Cathedral, the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain. After the procession, a range of beautiful services will take place throughout the day. Everyone is welcome; whether to hear the stunning voices of the Cathedral Choirs, experience the peaceful chant of an Orthodox Service for the first time, or simply step into the building to find out more about one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in Britain. This year’s guest preachers, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark Cathedral and Stuart Burns OSB of Mucknell Abbey, recipient of the Dunstan Award for Prayer and Religious Life, join the celebrations on this special day.

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Joy Williams - The Front Porch.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

St Peter De Beauvoir Town - Memory Installation







St Peter De Beauvoir Town is a place of worship and prayer, with services and spaces to help parishioners and visitors on their life journey. They are deeply rooted in the neighbourhood of De Beauvoir, and host a wealth of community activity in their newly renovated crypt.

This Easter, artist Angela Wright created 'an installation for the church which was made in conjunction with four workshops using 'Memory' as their theme.' 'It presents objects lent by Angela and church attendees.' 'This offered the church a valuable opportunity for outreach to older people and dementia support networks. The installation provided a backdrop to a Lent programme of Holy Conversations – stories of St Peter’s and stories of God: stories of grace and well-being, scarcity and abundance, grief and change.'

'Her addition hardly changes the building environment - adding a vague complexity at the margins of sight - diverging from the chancel as if scattering fragments of its windows' colours into the body of the church. When however one approaches a wall, miscellaneous objects, trapped and flaunted in a turbulent stream of wire, become increasingly recognisable as a detritus of ordinary manufactured and naturally formed things. One's curiosity is aroused and one's attention focuses a single object, which stripped of its context of familiarity - of use and meaning that is extraneous to actuality - is awarded uniqueness and we see it as bizarre: a thing manifesting complex characteristics that are relatively undiluted by perceptions of its 'place and purpose in the world'.'

Angela has said: “Before I started to attach them I laid out all of the memorable objects on tables and they became my palette. I needed to become familiar with them. Their shapes, their colours, history and how they might live together. Finding that special resting place on the wall was not simple and it could take time, sometimes days and a small percentage of objects were rejected. The placing and space around each object was an important aspect of the installation. In the end around 430 objects were incorporated. In the final week, knitting needles were employed to help direct the sense of movement around the building. Balls of wool picking up the colours of the stained glass were used to draw the eye to the unity of the building.”

'The appreciation of the piece grows by the week as people slowly take it in. At first glance you might think it was a display of leftover Christmas decorations – many of the objects are suspended and catch the changing light in the building. As you draw closer you see that each object has its own space, its own voice and viewing becomes an act of contemplation.'

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The Innocence Mission - Evensong.

HeartEdge in Scotland




















The Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields toured Scotland this week performing at HeartEdge events in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

‘Heart and voice uniting’ was an afternoon event at Greenbank Parish Church Edinburgh exploring the role of music and voice in our churches, including performances by the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields. The event included contributions from Sam Wells and Andrew Earis together with Gareth Davies, a Church of Scotland minister and arts therapist specialising in voice, movement and drama, David McNeish, Minister of Milestone Community Church on Orkney who spoke about celebration and lament, and Martin Ritchie, Minister of Greenbank Parish Church, who has a background in performing arts management, behind the scenes and on the front line of music, opera, and theatre. The day ended with 'Sing joyfully', a well-attended hour-long concert by the Choral Scholars.

'At the Heart. On the Edge' was a HeartEdge introductory day at Queen's Cross Parish Church in Aberdeen with input from Scott Rennie, Minister of Queen's Cross, Sophy Green, CEO of Instant Neighbour, Isaac Poobalan, Provost of St Andrew’s Cathedral of the Scottish Episcopal Church in Aberdeen, Peter Johnston, Minister of Ferryhill Church Aberdeen, Hugh Wallace, Minister of Newhills Church Aberdeen, Sam Wells, Andrew Earis and the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields performing Great Sacred Music. 

The day included theology, ideas, solutions and support exploring ways to: share models of outreach serving local need and addressing social justice; use art, music and ideas to re-imagine the Christian narrative for the present moment; creatively extend and enhance mission and ministry through commercial activities and social enterprise that generate finance; and develop and share inclusive approaches to liturgy, worship and day-to-day communal life.

Feedback regarding the events was very positive. The churches, resources and projects featured were:
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Great Sacred Music - A Hymn for St Cecilia.

Windows on the world (401)


Oxford, 2017

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Midnight Oil - Forgotten Years.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Chinese Art for Western Interiors



On Thursday Colin Sheaf spoke at St Martin-in-the-Fields on 'Chinese Art for Western Interiors'. This was the second lecture in our occasional series of art talks focusing on aspects of Chinese Art; a series which is a joint initiative with our Chinese Congregations.

Linking Asian craftsmanship with evolving Western tastes in interior decoration and passion for Chinoiserie, the ‘China Trade’ facilitated the arrival in London of principally Chinese artefacts and traditions like tea-drinking, which greatly enriched English polite society between about 1600-1850. Colin's lecture explored this exotic yet fundamentally commercial maritime relationship, illustrating some of the fine lacquers, ‘Export-taste’ ceramics, silks and wallpapers which the ‘Honourable East India Company’ regularly imported.

Colin Sheaf has been Head of Asian Art at Bonhams since 2001. He has had a distinguished 37-year career in the auction industry after reading Modern History at Worcester College Oxford. A world authority on Asian ceramics and Chinese Art he directs Asian Art specialist teams on four continents, holding sales in London, Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. He is also Chairman of the Sir Percival David Foundation, the world's finest private collection of Imperial Chinese porcelain.

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Ding Yi Music Company - Moonlit River In Spring.

'Faith: An Exhibition' by Russell Haines







 


Photographs by Philip Dawson & myself

Faith is an exhibition which explores different faiths, religions and belief systems, promoting tolerance and understanding in this unstable world. Huge, expressive portraits show the diverse nature of belief, and allow the subjects to explain their story in their own words. It features people of faith - and no faith … Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, pagans, Rastafarians, atheists and a Zoroastrian. The artist, Russell Haines, notes that, in painting the series, he came to know his subjects “as people first and foremost.”

First shown at Gloucester Cathedral, this show is currently at All Hallows by the Tower in the City of London before moving on to various venues in Cambridge during July. Wherever shown, this is an exhibition that seeks to begin a conversation among people of faith and none by exploring both the diversity of faith, and the commonalities we all possess.

Haines, who originally only took up painting six years ago for medical reasons following a stroke, wants his art to help communities and deliver social impact: “I hope in a small way my art can help the viewer to see past the label and see instead the person contained within the portrait. Each of them is unique and yet also very alike, trying to live their lives in the best way they can. The only difference is how each of them expresses their view of the world. Is that such a big difference?” Russell Haines January 2017

To create this show, Haines painted portraits of over thirty people in Gloucester, where he lives, who represent the diverse faith communities in that city. Personal statements of what faith means to the individual depicted were recorded in the paintings, in writing and on film. Four documentaries made in collaboration with the University of Gloucestershire’s film school complement the portraits, along with other multi-media installations. In addition, a book has been published with the written statements alongside each portrait.

The paintings - like the subject they set out to address – are huge. Philip Dawson has suggested that “even the impressive scale of these canvasses can’t contain the portraits,” as these “images fizz with high-voltage energy.” Dawson writes that they utilise a “graffiti-style collage of controlled chaos over-painted with multi-coloured, multi-layered strokes” which create “a halo around most of the portraits; incorporating just-visible family photographs, religious symbols, newspaper cuttings, facts and figures and verses from scripture as well as secular texts.”

In this way, the lives of the faithful are exhibited on these canvases, “with all their doubts, contradictions and complexities exposed.” “The style and technique provide a glimpse of what’s going on ‘inside’ the heads of these people, as well as what’s on the surface.” Haines has said that: “Painting each of the participants has meant being in serious conversation with them about their lives and their personal beliefs, how they came to believe and why they believe. Hearing their stories and immersing themselves in their lives, as I painted them, means I have come to know them as people first and foremost.” One of the subjects, Zerbanoo Gifford, a Zoroastrian, explains in the exhibition guide, “I believe that my whole DNA is imbued with my heritage.” This exhibition invites us “to paddle in that stream of consciousness; to share in and continue the conversation in our own imaginations.”

The exhibition includes the first portrait of the Bishop of Gloucester, The Right Reverend Rachel Treweek, the first female Bishop to sit in the House of Lords. The Bishop, the artist, and Reverend Mark Paulson, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Interfaith Advisor, all contributed to the exhibition’s Private View. In her speech, Bishop Rachel explained that we can’t re-write previous chapters of the story of humanity - but we can all help to write a new one.

She said that she knows she is a ‘broken’ person and so does not seek to judge others if she doesn’t agree with them – and is therefore not offended by those who hold views that are different to her own. In concluding her remarks, she said: “God has called me by name - my prayer is that you will all become the person god has created you to be.”

‘Faith – An Exhibition’ by Russell Haines is at All Hallows by the Tower until 15 June. Monday – Saturday 10.00am – 4.00pm, Sundays 1.00 – 4.00pm.

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Violent Femmes - Faith.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Windows on the world (400)


Oxford, 2017

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Robbie Robertson - Broken Arrow.