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Wednesday, 21 April 2021

ArtWay: Photographing Religious Practice

My latest article for ArtWay is entitled Photographing Religious Practice and discusses the increasing prevalence of photographic series and books exploring aspects of religious practice:

"Gorick’s discoveries provided her with a completely different perspective on the City of London and her hope now is that her photographs will inspire others to push open church doors and explore their spiritual nuances.

Similarly with the work of Mandle, Polidori and Tomlinson, where the beauty of their photographs, encourages us to go beyond their images by entering the history, tradition and reality of peaceful prayerfulness to which they connect."

I have previously written about Niki Gorick here, S. Billie Mandle here, Alys Tomlinson here
Markéta Luskacová here, and Robert Polidori here.

My Church of the Month reports for ArtWay are: Aylesford Priory, Canterbury Cathedral, Chapel of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, Hem, Chelmsford Cathedral, Churches in Little Walsingham, Coventry Cathedral, Église de Saint-Paul à Grange-Canal, Eton College Chapel, Lumen, Metz Cathedral, Notre Dame du Léman, Notre-Dame de Toute Grâce, Plateau d’Assy,Romont, Sint Martinuskerk Latem, St Aidan of Lindisfarne, St Alban Romford, St. Andrew Bobola Polish RC Church, St. Margaret’s Church, Ditchling, and Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, St Mary the Virgin, Downe, St Michael and All Angels Berwick, and St Paul Goodmayes, as well as earlier reports of visits to sites associated with Marian Bohusz-Szyszko, Marc Chagall, Jean Cocteau, Antoni Gaudi and Henri Matisse.

My visual meditations for ArtWay include work by María Inés Aguirre, Giampaolo Babetto, Marian Bohusz-Szyszko, Alexander de Cadenet, Christopher Clack, Marlene Dumas, Terry Ffyffe, Antoni Gaudi, Nicola Green, Maciej Hoffman, Lakwena Maciver, S. Billie Mandle, Giacomo Manzù, Michael Pendry, Maurice Novarina, Regan O'Callaghan, Ana Maria Pacheco, John Piper, Nicola Ravenscroft, Albert Servaes, Henry Shelton, Anna Sikorska and Edmund de Waal.

Interviews for ArtWay include: Sophie Hacker and Peter Koenig. I also interviewed ArtWay founder Marleen Hengelaar Rookmaaker for Artlyst.

I have also reviewed: Art and the Church: A Fractious Embrace, Kempe: The Life, Art and Legacy of Charles Eamer Kempe, and Jazz, Blues, and Spirituals.

Other of my writings for ArtWay can be found here. My pieces for Church Times can be found here, those for Artlyst here, and those for Art+Christianity are here.


Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus - Bright Field.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Living God's Future Now - w/c 18 April 2021

'Living God’s Future Now’ is our mini online festival of theology, ideas and practice.

We’ve developed this in response to the pandemic and our changing world. The church is changing too, and - as we improvise and experiment - we can learn and support each other.

This is 'Living God’s Future Now’ - talks, workshops and discussion - hosted by HeartEdge. Created to equip, encourage and energise churches - from leaders to volunteers and enquirers - at the heart and on the edge.

The focal event in ‘Living God’s Future Now’ is a monthly conversation where Sam Wells explores what it means to improvise on God’s kingdom with a leading theologian or practitioner.

The online programme includes:
  • Regular weekly workshops: Biblical Studies (Mondays - fortnightly), Sermon Preparation (Tuesdays) and Community of Practitioners (Wednesdays)
  • One-off workshops on topics relevant to lockdown such as ‘Growing online communities’ and ‘Grief, Loss & Remembering’
  • Monthly HeartEdge dialogue featuring Sam Wells in conversation with a noted theologian or practitioner
W/c 18 April 2021


St Martin-in-the-Fields and HeartEdge Theology Reading Group
Sunday 18 April, 18:00-19:00 (BST)
Register here.
Explore and discuss Dante’s The Divine Comedy with Revd Dr Sam Wells, St-Martin-in-the-Fields congregation and HeartEdge partners. Join this journey through Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso - the greatest single work of Western literature – beginning in this session with the Inferno.


Building for the Future: A Zoom conference to consider strategies for churches and church buildings
Monday 19 April, 15:00 – 16:30 (BST)
Register by emailing with ‘Building for the Future’ in the subject line.
During the pandemic churches have questioned the ways in which our buildings play a part, for better or for worse, in God’s mission and in local communities and neighbourhoods. General Secretary, John Bradbury, of the URC will give a keynote address and HeartEdge will share about support in the use of your building. An opportunity for conversation and a listening exercise to hear the questions that you have, the challenges that particular churches face, and positive ideas and news.


Sermon Prep Sally Hitchiner and Sam Wells
Tuesday 20 April 16:30 -17:30 BST
Live streamed on the HeartEdge Facebook page here.
A live preaching workshop focusing on the forthcoming Sunday's lectionary readings in the light of current events and sharing of thoughts on approaches to the passages.


Community of Practitioners workshop
Wednesday 21 April 16:00-17:00 BST
Email Ben Sheridan here to take part. This is open to all, including ordinands and lay leaders. Church leaders join in community, share and reflect together on their recent experiences in the form of wonderings with one of the HeartEdge team.


Book Launch: Wizards, Muggle Crust and the Human Purpose of Business
Thursday 22 April, 19:00 (BST)
Reg here
In our lifetimes the purpose of business is being reformed. But on the human and social side purpose of business our language is lacking (argues Douglas Board). Douglas will draw on his book ‘Elites: can you rise to the top without losing your soul?’ to propose that the human purpose of business is to create places (organisations, systems, communities) of extraordinary achievement in which ordinary lives matter. In this HeartEdge workshop Douglas will explore these issues with Jo Hill, Monisha Shah, Professor David Grayson CBE, Richard Goold and Revd Dr Sam Wells.


Theology Group
Sunday, 25 April 2021, 18:00 – 19:00 (BST)
Reg here 
The St Martin-in-the-Fields and HeartEdge Theology Group provides a monthly opportunity to reflect theologically on issues of today and questions of forever with Sam Wells. Each month Sam responds to questions from a member of the congregation of St Martin-in-the-Fields who also chairs the session and encourages your comments and questions.

Coming Up

Mission Summer School - 12 – 16 July 2021
12-16 July 2021
For more details and to reg click here
An opportunity to engage more deeply with the theology of mission and to explore how it relates to your own practice.Input structured around the four Cs of Commerce, Culture, Congregation and Compassion. A mix of teaching and conversation with leading scholars and practitioners including the Revd Dr Sam Wells, Professor Anthony Reddie, Dr Cathy Ross, and Revd Heather Cracknell, among others. Workshops to engage with the themes and issues presented. Encounters with churches, organisations and projects (HeartEdge and Fresh Expressions) to get a hands-on feel for how it works out in practice.


Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Lavender Fields.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Windows on the world (323)

London, 2020


Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Artlyst - Keith Haring: Personal Spiritual Imagery

My latest feature article for Artlyst is about Keith Haring who transformed the art world during his short but impactful life, having become known initially for art that proliferated in the New York subway system during the early 1980s. My piece draws on a new biography by Simon Doonan which is part of the Lives of Artists series published by Lawrence King, the 'Keith Haring: Radiant Gambit' exhibition currently at the World Chess Hall of Fame, and a piece by Michael Wright (via Victoria Emily Jones' Art & Theology blog) highlighting Haring's connection as a teen with the Jesus People movement:

'Keith Haring: Radiant Gambit reminds us that throughout his career, Haring devoted much of his time to public works, which often carried social messages. He produced more than 50 public artworks between 1982 and 1989 in dozens of cities worldwide, many of which were created for charities, hospitals, children’s daycare centres and orphanages. Haring also held drawing workshops for children in schools and museums in New York, Amsterdam, London, Tokyo, and Bordeaux and produced imagery for many literacy programs and other public service campaigns. Doonan, as we noted, writes that Haring was an artist for the people, best remembered as a Pied Piper, an unpretentious communicator who appeared happiest mentoring a gang of kids, arming them with brushes and attacking the nearest wall. Wright suggests Haring’s “compassion for the weak and vulnerable, his critical eye to unjust systems, his celebration of the body and human dignity—this was all part of Haring’s sensibility, and it’s deeply Christ-like too,” while also being characteristic of the Jesus People whose community he left but whose influence remained.'

My other pieces for Artlyst are:

Interviews -
Articles -

Eurythmics - Winter Wonderland.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Artlyst - Modus Operandi What Makes Successful Public Art: Vivien Lovell Interviewed

My latest interview for Artlyst is with Vivien Lovell of Modus Operandi, an independent arts unit with a track record of curating and producing high-quality art in the public realm, that recently celebrated its 21st birthday. To mark this milestone, the company selected 21 projects at random, spanning the years since Vivien Lovell soft-launched the company.

"A complex project – and there are many to choose from the East Window of St Martin-in-the-Fields by Shirazeh Houshiary with Pip Horne. Replacing the post-WW2 window with a contemporary glass artwork within a Grade 1 listed building meant that permissions were multilayered: no less than seven steps were involved. It was unprecedented being the artist’s first work in glass and on such a scale. This called for collaborators, including the artist’s partner architect Pip Horne; the church’s architect Eric Parry; the glass studio, Mayer of Munich; the fabricators of the steel framework, Benson Sedgwick and the lighting designer Jonathan Coles. The final work has become synonymous with the church’s renewed identity and is recognised as a landmark in public art."

My other pieces for Artlyst are:

Interviews -
Articles -

James MacMillan - A New Song.

Windows on the world (322)

 Chelmsford, 2021


Merry Clayton - Beautiful Scars.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Music and HeartEdge


HeartEdge is programming some excellent sessions on music over the next few weeks:

Living God's Future Now conversation - Maggi Dawn
Register for a Zoom invite at

At 6.00 pm (GMT) on Thursday 8 April 2021, Sam Wells and Maggi Dawn will be in conversation to discuss how to improvise on the kingdom.

The Rev’d Professor Maggi Dawn is Principal, St Mary’s College, Durham University and Professor of Theology, Department of Theology and Religion. 

Maggi’s first career was in the music industry as a songwriter, guitarist and singer. She recorded five albums under her own name, and was a session player in numerous other bands. 

Maggi studied Theology at the University of Cambridge in the 1990s, where her PhD research explored S. T. Coleridge’s theological language. Her ongoing research interests are the role of voice and form in the creation of theological meaning, and the role of the arts in theology and liturgy. 

She began her career in academia as college Chaplain and teaching fellow at the University of Cambridge. She has five books in publication, one of which was quoted in Parliament in 2012 to launch a Private Members Bill. Before coming to Durham she spent eight years as Associate Dean, and Associate Professor of Theology and Literature, at Yale Divinity School and the Institute of Sacred Music.

In the shadow of your wings: Musical Bible study on the Psalms
Thursday 15 April, 4.30 pm (BST).
Register for a Zoom invite at

A unique ecumenical event that combines three new musical interpretations of Psalm 57 with small-group discussion.

An Interactive Online Event Presented by Deus Ex Musica in which participants watch pre-recorded live performances of three brand-new vocal settings of a beloved psalm, each of which has been set to music by a composer representing a different Christian tradition.

This workshop will look at three settings of Psalm 57. After viewing each set of performances, participants engage in moderated small-group discussions. Since the psalm is set to music by more than one composer, participants hear how different musical responses to the same text bring to life various dimensions of each psalm. This provides a unique and memorable way for participants to experience the depth and beauty of Scripture in ways that promote both learning and discipleship. It also provides a rare opportunity for Christians of all stripes to gather in fellowship and dialogue about something we all agree on: the power and importance of the Bible.

No musical experience or expertise is required by any participants.

Deus Ex Musica is an ecumenical organization comprised of musicians, educators, and pastors, and scholars, that promotes the use of sacred music as a resource for learning and spiritual growth.

Jesus Is Just Alright

For over fifty years, pop musicians in all genres have explored the meaning and significance of Jesus in their music. The result is a rich collection of songs that consider important spiritual questions like faith, doubt, and prayer in unique and often provocative ways. Through a combination of listening and discussion, this four-part series invites participants to explore a different spiritual topic each week. Join us to listen to great music that asks tough questions about our faith and our lives as Christians.

Fridays in June 2021, 16:30 BST. Register for a Zoom invite at

SESSION 1: Beer With Jesus

Cowboy, soldier, friend, mother, gangsta: Jesus has appeared in all these guises – and many more – in pop songs over the past 50 years. By exploring what these different incarnations say about the ways modern Christians have imagined Jesus, this session will challenge us to consider how our own assumptions affect the way we relate to him. Do they help us to follow him – or are they a hindrance? And do we fall into the trap of recreating Jesus in our own image?

SESSION 2: Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?

What would Jesus think if he came back today? That’s a question posed by artists working in genres as diverse as folk, hip-hop, punk, country, and heavy metal. Though written by non-Christians, most of these songs have no problem with Jesus, but instead with his followers, accusing them of sins including hypocrisy, judgmentalism, intolerance, and greed. Listening to these “prophetic” songs will challenge participants to consider how they can better follow Christ in their own lives and as representatives of the Church.

SESSION 3: Jesus, Forgive Me for the Things I’m About to Do

Pop songs are full of prayers. But rather than relying on familiar words, musicians lift their voices to Jesus in ways that are often highly personal and heartbreakingly honest. This session explores what we can learn about prayer – and faith – from the pleas and tears of a wide variety of artists. What to do they pray for? Why and how? How do we see ourselves in these songs, and how might it affect the way we think about prayer?

SESSION 4: If I Believe You

Pop songs include some of the most honest and powerful examples of spiritual searching that you can find. Whether they are doubting believers, faithful doubters, unwilling atheists, or simple humans hungering for meaning, pop musicians bring to life approaches to faith that rival the psalms in their depth and nuance. This session will use these songs to help us understand and articulate the various ways we consider “belief”, and how that relates to our identities as modern Christians.

With Delvyn Case, a composer, conductor, scholar, performer, concert producer, and educator.


Deus Ex Musica - Psalm 57.