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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

'Gift' exhibition reception

Tonight we held a well-attended opening night reception for the ‘Gift’ exhibition.

I said: 'Welcome to St Stephen Walbrook and welcome to ‘Gift’, commission4mission’s third exhibition here in the stunning blend of old and new art and architecture to be found at St Stephen Walbrook which draws significant numbers of tourists and other visitors year in and year out. The reordering of the church undertaken in the 1980s sensitively introduced significant examples of modern art (altar by Henry Moore and kneelers by Patrick Heron) within this Wren masterpiece, which also contains significant woodwork and carving by William Newman.

Newman’s dark wood panelling provides a dramatic backdrop to the regular programme of contemporary art exhibitions that the church will now host. For these, we partner with either established art societies (such as the National Society of Painters, Sculptors & Printmakers or the Society of Catholic Artists) or artists with an interest in St Stephen Walbrook and our spirituality. In 2016 our programme will feature solo shows by the stuckist artist Joe Machine, artist-priest Alan Everett, Brazilian artist Kim Poor, and group shows by the National Society and commission4mission.

commission4mission’s ‘Gift’ exhibition anticipates the traditional season of giving associated with the Christian festival of Christmas, but is intended as a broad theme open to wider interpretation. Our artists showcase their individual engagements with this theme and so, while, as you view the exhibition you will certainly see images exploring the giving involved Christ’s incarnation and crucifixion, you will also see a wide range of other interpretations of our theme including reflections on gifts such faith, reflection, choice, hindsight, creativity, intercession, identity and revelation, together with meditations on our abuse as humans of the gifts we have been given. We hope that the range and variety of work, both in terms of content and media, will give pleasure and prompt reflection.

commission4mission seeks to encourage churches to commission contemporary art and Rob Floyd is one of our artists who has experienced particularly significant opportunities in making the Stations of the Cross cycle for Manchester Cathedral and Stations of the Resurrection cycle for Liverpool Cathedral. We have therefore invited him to reflect on those experiences and opportunities with us today. Rev. Rachel Mann, Poet in Residence at Manchester Cathedral has said, “I heartily recommend that if you want to understand a little more about the applications of the word ‘Art’ in our language, spend time in communion with Rob Floyd’s paintings. You will be rewarded.” We will, I am sure, be similarly rewarded by what Rob has to share with us tonight.'

Rob reflected on his experiences and opportunities emphasising the importance of holding face-to-face discussions with churches and cathedrals about exhibition and commission opportunities. He spoke too about the energy and pressures of large series of works together with the sense that works taken on a life of their own once displayed. His cycle of Stations of the Resurrection are due for completion by Easter 2016 and three works from this series are included in the ‘Gift’ exhibition.


Bruce Cockburn - Gifts.

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