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Friday, 10 April 2015

Research and exhibitions about ecclesiastical art

While visiting the excellent still small voice exhibition at The Wilson in Cheltenham today, I was interested to find out that it forms part of a series of international exhibitions focusing on ecclesiastical art which The Wilson is organising in conjunction with the University of Gloucestershire over the next two years. This programme will include a touring exhibition in Spring 2016 featuring the ecclesiastical works of Arts and Crafts designers.

The Schools of Humanities and the School of Art and Design at the University of Gloucestershire, in Cheltenham, have begun a new initiative aimed at integrating biblical interpretation and new artistic representations of scenes and narratives from the Bible, and other expressions of religious belief, in paintings, sculpture and other media. The particular aim of the initiative is the production of new artistic works focused on biblical material and other expressions of religious belief in a self-reflexive and research-focused way.

To this end, the University of Gloucestershire is now offering a scholarship in this area to be jointly supervised by Philip Esler (biblical critic) and Angus Pryor (artist) with the output to consist of discursive textual material and an artistic work or works focused on biblical material or some other expression of religious belief.

Angus Pryor, Head of Fine Art & Design at the University, also provides his unique response to the still small voice exhibition with an ambitious wall-length artwork entitled ‘God’s Wrath’. The playful and macabre piece is displayed on the ground floor of the gallery. Pryor's interest in this painting and indeed in the entire show,  began with the Stanley Spencer painting, Angels of the Apocalypse (1949).

All works in this exhibition are transcriptions from biblical texts. Angels of the Apocalypse is derived from the Book of Revelations. Pryor wanted to explore the idea of this “taken text” in a manner that was more secular in its intention and therefore looked closely at and researched Spencer’s work to see how a parody of this painting could be made, bearing in mind the original words within the text and how Spencer had transcribed them.

Angus Pryor’s large, tactile works are based around narratives of imagination. They represent his attempt to recycle the “ready-made” object popular in much modern art “back into the made” through the “visceral practice of painting”. He says, “The finished paintings sustain discursive narratives, which explore atomisation and fragmentation within the contemporary art world and its diminishing sense of social responsibility.”

Pryor relies heavily on religious imagery and narrative for his work and through his object impressions reinvents the object thus challenging the process of objectification in conceptual art.


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - God Is In The House.

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