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Friday, 21 September 2018

HeartEdge: Bill Viola and the art of contemplation

The latest HeartEdge event was hosted by the Parish Church of St Cuthbert in Edinburgh and sought to support churches in their cultural programming, particularly as it relates to visual art, by exploring approaches to curating exhibitions in churches, Bill Viola's church-located installations, and art as contemplative or meditative practice.

At HeartEdge, we have been inspired by the example of St Cuthbert’s in their installation of Bill Viola's 'Three Women'. This had been a particularly successful installation as a contribution to the Edinburgh Festival, in the connections it has forged with the Arts community and the local community, and in the positive press coverage received. All this has been with an understanding of the way in which the installation connects with the spirituality of St Cuthbert's.

HeartEdge seeks to share good practice and ideas with our members, so it made good sense to hold an event here exploring ways in which the mission of the church can be enhanced through art and the Christian narrative re-imaged and re-imagined.

Laura Moffatt, Director of Art & Christianity, reviewed Bill Viola's various installations in churches considering how and why they connect with our sacred buildings. Matthew Askey shared his experiences of curating significant exhibitions at Southwell Minster in recent years, considering ways of bringing exciting and varied work into churches by utilising sacred space well and connecting sympathetically with the spirituality of our churches.

I spoke about the contemplative nature of the experience of viewing art and made connections with approaches to and understanding of prayer. Finally, Alexander de Cadenet spoke as an artist for whom meditation has become of increasing significance, to the extent that he has begun seeking out other artist's with similar experience with whom he work together in a new organisation called Awakened Artists.


James MacMillan - A New Song

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Encounters: The Art of Interfaith Dialogue

Launched at St Martin-in-the-Fields on 17 September, Encounters is a groundbreaking project by artist Nicola Green in collaboration with King’s College London, Cambridge University, and Coexist House.

For the past ten years Nicola Green has gained extraordinary access to meetings between religious leaders around the world. Travelling from the UK to Italy, Israel, Egypt, Qatar, India, and the United States she witnessed meetings between representatives of all of the world’s major religions. She had the privilege to meet Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Sikh, Baha’i, Jain, Confucian, Humanist, Shinto, and indigenous leaders. Along the way, Green earned the trust of figures including former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Pope Francis, former Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomaa, former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the Dalai Lama.

Green observed that we are entering a new era in interreligious relations: for the first time in history, religious leaders have begun to sit down together and consider possibilities for cooperation, dialogue, and friendship, overcoming historically deep divides. Together, they are leading the way towards a dialogue which respects and honours differing beliefs, without compromising the truth of their own traditions.Encounters is an exploration of difference. How can people of different faiths, or none, communicate strongly held convictions, whilst respectfully allowing others to do the same? Green hopes viewers will think about our relationship to those we consider ‘other’ and how this, in turn, shapes our own identity.

The works in Encounters are presented in two forms: The Light Series and The Encounter Series. The Encounter Series is a collection of portraits of global religious leaders, portraying the meetings which the artist has witnessed over the past decade. The Light Series is made up of twelve life-sized figures of religious leaders, viewers are able to meet them in one space together for the first time.

Nicola Green is an internationally acclaimed artist based in London. Inspired by her mixed-heritage family, Green explores themes of identity, race, faith, power, gender and leadership. Green’s work In Seven Days… documenting Obama’s 2008 election, has received international acclaim and is described by The Metropolitan Museum of Art as ‘an artistic and historic masterpiece’.

Green co-founded the Diaspora Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale 2017 and her work is in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, The Library of Congress, and the Courtauld Institute.

The Encounters exhibition is accompanied by a book published by Brepols publishers titled Encounters: The Art of Interfaith Dialogue.

The exhibition supports the Autumn Lecture Series at St Martin-in-the-Fields with lectures which focus on the theme of encounter. How are we changed by the people, events or objects we encounter when we meet them face-to-face? How do prejudices shift? How are new insights born? What inspires us to new ways of being and relating to God and to others? How do we become who we truly are through those we meet? How do we encounter God in our lives? In each of these lectures prominent and inspirational leaders, thinkers and practitioners will be speaking from a personal but also public perspective about the way such encounters have changed the course of their lives.

The first lecture in the series was given by Rowan Williams after opening the Encounters exhibition. I have compiled a preview of Encounters for Artlyst - click here to read.


Leonard Cohen - Steer Your Way.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Windows on the world (412)

Kettering, 2018


Dry The River - Vessel.

Journey exhibition & Art in Faith City Walk

‘Journey’ is a group show by commission4mission artists at All Hallows by the Tower (Byward Street, London EC3R 5BJ) from Tuesday 16 to Saturday 27 October 2018.

The title and theme for the exhibition can be understood in terms of journeys that are emotional, pilgrimage, personal, biblical etc.

We encouraged our artists to reflect broadly on the theme and 23 artists have responded with imagery that ranges from birth and death (the journey of life) to geographical journeys (including street scenes), plastic pollution (blown or washed around the globe), and Stations of the Cross, among others.

A mix of abstract and representational imagery has been created, utilising ceramics, collage, digital illustration, drawing, painting, photography and sculpture.

The exhibition includes work by Ally Ashworth, Hayley Bowen, Harvey Bradley, Irina Bradley, Cathie Chappell, Christopher Clack, Valerie Dean, Jonathan Evens, Mary Donaghey, Maurizio Galia, Michael Garaway, John Gentry, Laura Grenci, Barbara Harris, Deborah Harrison, David Hawkins, Anthony Hodgson, Mark Lewis, David Millidge, Dorothy Morris, Janet Roberts, and Henry Shelton.

The exhibition can be viewed during the church’s normal opening hours – Mon – Fri 10.00am – 6.00pm, Sat – Sun 10.00am – 5.00pm (except during services).

The Private View will be held on Monday 15 October from 6.00pm.

During the period of the exhibition we will also will hold our AGM. Our AGM will be held at 2.00pm at All Hallows by the Tower on Sunday 28 October. We hope many of you will attend. At the AGM Mark Lewis will provide information about next year’s commission4mission Art Retreat with the Othona Community in Bradwell-on-Sea (7 – 10 May 2019).

City Art in Faith: A Guided Walk of selected churches in the City of London
2-4pm, October 25th 2018
Meet at the entrance of All Hallows-by-the-Tower, Tower Hill
Guided by Mark Lewis, artist and lecturer
No charge but donations appreciated

This walk will include seven churches and Mark will give a brief historical context for each of the churches visited and discuss the contemporary works of art to be found there and the artists who produced them. We will also see examples of contemporary commissioned street sculpture while walking between venues.

Churches to be visited: All Hallows-by-the-Tower – St Edmund King and Martyr
St Mary Woolnoth – St Stephen Walbrook – St Lawrence Jewry – St Mary-le-Bow – St Nicholas Cole Abbey.

All churches feature in the City of London “Art of Faith” walk.

The last church to be visited is near Mansion House Underground.

Maximum group of 20. Booking is essential. Please contact: Mark Lewis: T: 020 8504 5840 E:


Paul Simon - Graceland.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Commerce, Compassion, Culture, Congregation … It’s All Church!



In our view commerce, compassion, culture and congregation are essential and are all church! +Paul Bayes, David Ellis, Paul Goodliff, Rosemarie Mallett, Ann Morisy, Ben Quash, Anthony Reddie, Miranda Thelfall-Holmes, Maeve Sherlock, ++Justin Welby, Sam Wells and Lucy Winkett were just some of those who helped us explore these themes.

The HeartEdge two day intensive provided theology, ideas, resources, plus time to make connections, find encouragements and enjoy jazz.
Contributions to the programme from St Martin’s included a Great Sacred Music with St Martin’s Voices featuring the hymns and poetry of Robert Bridges, a wonderfully reflective Bread for the World Eucharist led by the Nazareth Community, and Jazz in the CafĂ© with The Fabulations.

There was lots of comment on social media about the conference which gives a flavour of the content and people’s reactions. This included:
  • The first HeartEdge Conference coming to an end at Lambeth Palace - a fantastic two days. Thank you to the St Martin’s team for organising it! It has been energising!
  • What an absolutely jam-packed, inspiring, wonderful couple of days at the HeartEdge conference!
  • Day 2 of the HeartEdge conference was fantastic. Thank you to Lambeth Palace for your hospitality. Great to hear from, among others, Lucy Winkett, Sam Wells, Rosemarie Mallet, Anthony Reddie, Paul Bayes, Miranda Threllfall-Holmes. Oh, and Justin Welby!
  • Spent two good days at the HeartEdge conference - came away thinking about sacred music, Jesus’ body parts and this Table, and what it might mean to see the church as guest not host.
  • Hospitality; host vs guest; margins vs centre; engaging with communities.
  • Great to be at the HeartEdge annual conference today at Lambeth Palace. Inspiring mix of denominations coming together, with wise words on celebrating success from Justin Welby.
  • This afternoon Paul Bayes & co are talking real life for many, not just in North West.
  • Really amazing speech and presentation by Paul Bayes and the Liverpool team at the HeartEdge conference! Really challenging and engaging stuff.
  • The Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes (a Bradford lad) gave a brilliant talk this afternoon at the HeartEdge conference. He may have single-handedly persuaded me to the merits of Episcopacy lol. Ok, not quite, but he was brilliant.
  • It's going to take a few days to process all the information! Then there's the small task of sharing all we experienced with our church! Thanks to St Martin’s and Lambeth Palace for the amazing welcome!
Our thanks to everyone at St Martin’s, in HeartEdge and among our contributors who made the conference such a special experience with great organisation, wonderful content, many new connections made and a significant development in our aim to create a new movement for renewal in the broad church.