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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Sabbatical art pilgrimage: ACG e-info introduction

I have recently written the introductory piece for the latest e-info mailing sent out by the Arts Centre Group. In it I summarise briefly the main learning from my sabbatical art pilgrimage:

"Over the past three months spent on sabbatical I’ve been enjoying the opportunity to visit churches in Belgium, England, France and Switzerland to see works of modern and contemporary art.

The commissions that I have seen during this sabbatical tell a story of a continuing engagement by the Church with contemporary art from the Post-Impressionists to the present day. This engagement has often been contentious and contested but it has nevertheless been a continuing relationship involving both mainstream artists with a Christian faith and church commissions undertaken by mainstream artists who have not professed the faith.

This story is not one which has been well told, either by the Church or the mainstream art world. There are many reasons for this on both sides but my concern in making this story the focus of my sabbatical has been to encourage the Church to tell and to value this story.

As both a parish priest and through commission4mission, the group of artists of which I am part, I have seen the value of promoting and publicising the artworks which churches have commissioned. Through the creation of Art Trails locally and regionally, we have provided churches with a means of publicity which has led to events such as art competitions, exhibitions, festivals and talks, community art workshops, guided and sponsored walks, and Study Days. Each has brought new contacts to the churches involved and has built relationships between these churches and local artists/arts organisations.

It is my contention that to tell more fully the story of the engagement which the Church has had with modern and contemporary art could have similar impact on a wider scale and would also have the effect of providing emerging artists from within the Church and the faith with a greater range of role models and approaches for their own developing inspiration and practice.

The commissions I have seen speak powerfully and movingly of the Christian faith and therefore also inform the spirituality of those who see them. I am seeking to tell part of this story through posts about my sabbatical visits on my blog at, as well as in the Church of the Month series on the ArtWay website - My hope is that others will find these commissions and the continuing story of church commissions as inspirational as I have done."


David Grant - Change.

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