Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Monday, 29 September 2008

Ethics in a global economy

The programme for 'Ethics in a Global Economy,' the FiLE seminar being held on Wednesday 29th October at the St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation & Peace, has now been finalised. The full list of contributors to the day is Saif Ahmad (CEO, Muslim Aid); Jay Lakhani (Head, Hindu Academy), Alison Murdoch (Director, Essential Education) and Dr. Edmund Newell (Director, St Paul 's Institute).

The programme will be as follows:

8.30am Breakfast and registration.

9.00am Introductions and icebreaker

9.15am Keynote speech from Ed Newell (including Q&A)

9.45am Breakout groups:

Group 1 - ‘Faiths & business ethics’ with Alison Murdoch & Jay Lakhani. Question: Is it possible to be true to your faith values and be a responsible employer or employee?

Group 2 - ‘Ethics of business in a multi-faith world’ with Saif Ahmad & Ed Newell. Questions: What relevance do faith communities have to a global economy? How can a faith community be heard in a global economy? What change can faith communities bring?

10.45am Break

11.00am Repeat of Breakout groups

12.00noon Panel session with panellists: Saif Ahmad, Jay Lakhani, Alison Murdoch and Ed Newell.

12.40pm Keynote speech – Jay Lakhani

1.00pm Lunch

Cost: £50.00 for organisations, £25.00 for individuals. To book a place call Emma at Faith Regen Foundation on 020 8361 2288 or email her at For more information see:

Nu Colours - Desire.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Abstractions on Bach's Preludes & Fugues

Rodney Bailey with a piece included in the staff exhibition at the V&A

Works included in 'Abstractions on the 48 Preludes & Fugues by J.S. Bach'

Work included in ‘Abstractions on the 48 Preludes & Fugues by J.S. Bach’

Work included in ‘Abstractions on the 48 Preludes & Fugues by J.S. Bach’

Rodney Bailey at the ‘Abstractions on the 48 Preludes & Fugues by J.S. Bach’ exhibition

I had an enjoyable day off today visiting the V&A and meeting up with Rodney Bailey. Rodney, who will be exhibiting at Visual Dialogue 2, has a current exhibition at the Orsini Restaurant and is preparing for an exhibition of his graffiti art which will open in November.

His current exhibition is Abstractions on the 48 Preludes & Fugues by J.S. Bach. Rodney began studying the 48 Preludes & Fugues when he was 24 and has had endless joy listening to and learning to play them on the piano. His fascination with them first began in Barcelona where he was living for just under a year in 1992. This collection of work began in 1997 and is a continuous theme in his work.

He has made personal commissions for his friends and family to some of his favourite pieces from the Preludes & Fugues. In his opinion, “Sound and colour are like mother and child in art and to have the good fortune to be able to play the music of J.S. Bach and to make beautiful pieces of art based on his inspirational work is a true honour.”


J.S. Bach - Prelude & Fugue in F minor

An Alice in Wonderland market system

I have a new Gospel Reflection on the MiLE website for Sunday's Gospel Reading. This reflection links up with the comments made by the Archbishop of York when addressing the annual dinner of the Institute of Worshipful Company of International Bankers at Drapers Hall in the City of London.

Dr Sentamu declared: "To a bystander like me, those who made £190million deliberately underselling the shares of HBOS, in spite of its very strong capital base, and drove it into the bosom of Lloyds TSB Bank, are clearly bank robbers and asset strippers."

He continued: "We find ourselves in a market system which seems to have taken its rules of trade from Alice in Wonderland, where the share value of a bank is no longer dependent on the strength of its performance but rather on the willingness of the Government to bail it out, or rather on whether the Government has announced its intentions so to do."

The Archbishop also spoke of the contrast between the bail outs being proposed for banks and the lack of funding for the Millennium Development Goals and drew attention to the plight of those outside the financial industry who would benefit from Government assistance at a time of need.

This contrasts with a fascinating comment piece by Matthew Parris in The Times where he argues that "Christian socialism has ambushed [socialism], subverting its original message and wrecking it as a viable philosophy of government in a market-driven age":

"Marx is about power. Christianity is about charity. Marx is about the authority of the collective. Christian liberalism is about the individual conscience. Marx is about justice. Christian humanitarianism is about mercy. The common causes in which Christians, liberals and socialists have tried to reconcile their differences - personal freedom, the redistribution of wealth and the beneficent State - have in Christian hands proved ruinous to the socialist idea: softening its head, picking its pocket, throwing good money after bad, nursing the weak and neglecting the winners, hearkening to disability and turning away from ability, and leaching its energies into a welter of simpering charitable causes. For most of the second half of the 20th century, Western socialism has hovered around the bedside of the victim, the loser and the marginalised. To win, it should have been outdoors, exhorting the strong."

Parris' comment is fascinating because he clearly understands the 'bias to the poor' within Christianity at the same time that he rejects it. As my Gospel Reflection seeks to set out, I stand with the Archbishop of York.


The Clash - Working For The Clampdown.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Supporting public art

The following letter from me was printed in today's Ilford Recorder:

"It was, I guess, predictable that a letter of protest would be published last week after the announcement that Redbridge Council has plans for a public art programme in the borough. The funds being used, however, are only available for art and can't be spent on other local services like street cleaning.

While a curate in Barking & Dagenham, I benefited from getting involved in the Artscape public art programme. My varied and interesting experiences included seeing my daughter's dance group perform on the A13, having images of our congregation projected onto the windows of our church, and hearing the stories of older members of our congregation featured in a film about change.

From these experiences I would say that the key to public acceptance of public art is the creative and active involvement of the community in the projects themselves and in linked temporary art projects. I hope that Redbridge Council will have learnt this key lesson from the experience in Barking & Dagenham and will make community engagement a key feature of their public art programme."

Flagging up this issue was particularly appropriate in a week when the completed Advent Art Installation was also featured in the Recorder and just before next week's Social Responsibility Network conference where I will be giving a presentation on public art, churches and regeneration.


Deacon Blue - Only Tender Love.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Art interviews - Bishop of Barking (3)

JE. You are also a painter yourself and the walls of Bishop’s Lodge are decorated with your work. Can you say a little about your own art; its styles and motivations?

DH. I am inspired by landscape. Most of what I paint has its inspiration in landscape. I can’t help but be influenced by landscapes and townscapes. As early as I can remember I have enjoyed walking in the countryside. I also enjoy mountain climbing and grasp any opportunities to get out into wide open spaces. My ministry has mainly been urban and time in the countryside is a counterpoint to where I’ve tended to live in my ministry. But I’m also inspired by colourful, busy townscapes and the quirkiness of that as well.

JE. Your interest and engagement with the Arts has public and private aspects to it. Do you see a kind of synergy there with the public and private aspects of faith?

DH. I am at my most integrated and feel most myself when I am painting. I find painting challenging and demanding but extremely therapeutic. It is a spiritual activity but too much romance can be talked about painting and prayer. Essentially, I feel most fully myself when I am painting.

JE. It is often suggested that the contemporary Church has not engaged with the Arts well. Through your ministry as a Bishop you see a broad range of ministry being undertaken in parishes and at the diocesan level. Do you see an interest and engagement with the Arts as you travel around and have you found ways of encouraging that engagement where you have found it?

DH. I think there is a big need to re-engage with the Arts. The Church has had a lengthy and happy marriage with the Arts in the past but this has eroded in recent times.

A good example of what can be done is The Last Supper murals I commissioned for the Chapel of St George’s Crypt in Leeds. This is an example of taking ‘high’ art into a project that was for homeless people. We were juxtaposing art with those who are excluded in Leeds society. Steve Simpson, the artist, painted The Last Supper in the round such that the paintings of the Apostles would be on the wall next to contemporary worshippers. He worked from photos of some of the homeless people so there was a sense of the present day inhabitants of the Crypt being points of reference for the Apostles. This is taking art into a public space and enabling daily interaction from those using the space. It was also part of creative writing workshops that encouraged creativity in those using the Crypt.

I also designed a stained glass window for the 150th Anniversary of St George’s. As part of a re-ordering of the Church we took out some gallery seating and uncovered clear glass in the base of a lancet stained glass window. We then needed to complete the window and the challenge was to create something contemporary but that was also fitting in terms of colour, tone and leading so that the window would read as a piece and have integrity.

JE. How could a greater engagement with the Arts be encouraged by the Church and what would be the value of such an engagement?

DH. I agree with Rowan Williams that the Church needs more artists and “that artists are not special people but every person is a special kind of artist.” I think that there is great scope in the Church encouraging creative expression in everyone as this is a way of helping us to be fully human. Where appropriate that flowering of artistic expression can be expressed in Church as, for example, an outflow of worship. We are fellow-creators with God and need to remember that he is creator as well as redeemer.

The relationship between Church life and music has sustained through the centuries but the connection been Church and theatre has suffered. There is great scope for dance and drama in Church, as well as the visual arts. There is great scope for recovering those connections that have fallen into decline.

There needs to be a toughness of regulation as to what objects of art become permanent features in a Church. Hence the proper activity of Diocesan Advisory Committees whose responsibility it is to ensure that the heritage of our Churches is enhanced over the decades. However, there is great scope for pieces of art and scripture to be located in Church as well as dance and drama. There is a particular challenge when art is to be a permanent fixture in church buildings but you can do anything temporarily!
Aretha Franklin & Mavis Staples - We Need Power.

Monday, 22 September 2008

1000+ signatures

This comes from Ali Hai of TASK:

"I am delighted to announce that today we have broken through the 1000 name barrier and achieved our ambitious milestone that we set only 3 weeks ago. This is a wonderful achievement and it is thanks to your support.

In my almost 40 years as a resident of Redbridge and Seven Kings such demand for a library is unprecedented. Putting this into perspective, only a couple of months ago, Redbridge Council undertook a Big Conversation with the whole of Redbridge. For this they received less than 4000 written names having spent over £50,000 in advertising and marketing and with its army of resources. To have achieved 1000+ names in a small part of Redbridge and with no resources is a magnificent achievement and shows the depth of feeling in Seven Kings to have a comprehensive library service, that the rest of the borough enjoys without having to demand it.

In the last 3 weeks we have seen 100% support from every person that was approached and without fail each person has been passionate and excited at the thought of a library within walking distance of their home, office, shop, school, surgery or place of worship. Many remember the good old days when Seven Kings had a library (now the Ilford Prep School, which was sold by the Council in 1992). The petition campaign has also shown that our area can be a wonderful neighbourhood as the hundreds of people we have met in the last 3 weeks have been some of the friendliest and most caring people you would wish to meet. We have a thriving community that is ready to get behind to change Seven Kings for the better.

The library petition will be presented to Redbridge Council's leadership at Ilford Town Hall on Monday 6 October at 7pm and all are welcome to attend.Please continue collecting more names for the petition until the Friday before the Council meeting ie 3 October (please let me know and I would be happy to come to collect) to send the clearest and loudest possible message to Redbridge Council that the people of Seven Kings (including parts of neighbouring Newbury Park) demand a static library in Seven Kings today."

Subsequent to this message comes an additional one putting the petition total at 1,250.


Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers - Morning of Our Lives.

Ana Maria Pacheco exhibition

I'm particularly looking forward to seeing the forthcoming exhibition by Ana Maria Pacheco at Wallspace from 8 – 25 October having previously seen exhibitions by her at Birmingham's Gas Hall gallery and at the National Gallery, where she was an Associate Artist. At Wallspace, Pacheco will be showing her dramatic 2-piece work entitled Memória Roubada for the first time.

The powerful and disturbing painted wooden sculptures of Memória Roubada (Stolen Memories) confront ideas of displaced people and severed cultures - results of the colonisation of Brazil. Born in Goiânia in the State of Goiás, Brazil in 1943, Pacheco was studying at University when a military junta had taken over the country and was using death squads to enforce its rule. The pieces here express the obliteration of shared memory, the rape of cultural tradition and the idea of castration of the senses in the domination of a culture in the pursuit of money; the search for gold and more recently, oil.

These pieces are inspired by 'oratories' originating in Portugal and Spain - as domestic locations for private prayer. They also draw on European and Brazilian folklore and elements of West African iconography. This multiplicity of reference is woven of threads ever present in Brazil's multi-ethnic history.

Now based in London, Pacheco is known for her larger than life-sized carved and painted wooden sculptures that seem to have broken free from their specific past, to form dramatic and unsettling contemporary tableaux. In 1996 she was invited to become the fourth Associate Artist at the National Gallery, London; she was both the first non-European and the first sculptor to take up this appointment. Pacheco sculpted Dark Night of The Soul, with its reference to St Sebastian, during this time.

Pacheco is featured artist in Melvyn Bragg's Faith in The Frame ITV 1 series broadcast on 2 November 2008.


Violent Femmes - Jesus Walking On The Water.

Windows on the world (21)

Stratford on Avon

Billy Bragg - New England.

Art interviews - Bishop of Barking (2)

JE. In 2005 you collaborated in a public art project in Leeds called Mene Mene and in your artist’s statement for that project you wrote about the style of Jesus' teaching which: “was the opposite of 'in your face' modern advertising or high pressure evangelism. His teaching was often deliberately whimsical, mysterious and oblique. New Testament scholars refer to it as the 'Messianic Secret'. There was something of the take-it-or-leave-it quality of post-modern communication which Mene Mene attempts to recreate.” Are you attempting to use that feature of Jesus’ teaching generally in your communication or was that something that you specifically wished to highlight through the Mene Mene project?

DH. Mene Mene grew out of my long interest in the style of Jesus’ teaching and the way in which he took that teaching into the public square. Mene Mene was an attempt to replicate in the 21st century, in some way, the sort of impact that Jesus’ teaching would have had when he first spoke it. He would have had no PA system meaning that only a small handful in the crowd would have heard him clearly. Snatches of sentences and stories and sayings would have been passed on through the crowds; like Chinese whispers. Jesus’ communication in streets and marketplaces has a post-modern feel to it. So much of our communication today is through clichés, slogans and sound bites which are juxtaposed with the clamour of our everyday lives.

JE. Could you say a little about the way in which the Mene Mene collaboration with Pippa Hale and Marketing Strategist Stuart Tarbuck came about?

DH. Stuart was a member of the congregation at St George’s Leeds where I was Rector and Pippa Hale was a freelance artist in Leeds and a Christian. They were both students together at Leeds College of Art and Design. I shared my idea with them and together we shaped and reshaped it until we had thirteen texts for display on hoardings, bus shelters and so on in Leeds Town Centre. It was an attempt to do something not dissimilar to graffiti but done in a variety of different media and with the public walking past, noticing or not noticing. We did what we could to make each saying a talking point and deliberately mixed affirming texts with challenging ones.

JE. Mene Mene saw a series of texts being abstracted from their original Biblical context and filtered throughout the city in a variety of formats; from high-profile banners and adverts on bus shelters to more intimate sayings on bench plaques and shop windows. What was the impact for people of seeing Biblical texts in such places?

DH. Inevitably this was hard to measure. There was considerable interest from Leeds City Council and three of our installations have been kept as permanent features in the City. The Yorkshire Evening Post highlighted the project; demonstrating that religious themes can be newsworthy. The project also attracted popular and artistic interest.

We had hoped to hold a photographic exhibition of the installations with people interacting with them and also to hold seminars. That didn’t happen but there was interest in a website and these ideas gave us the feeling that a project like this could be replicated elsewhere and in a way that enabled discussion about the texts and their relevance to contemporary life.

JE. Was Mene Mene a one-off for you or do you have ideas for other public art projects?
DH. There is more scope for us to be able to develop this particular project. Our original plans were more ambitious than we were able to realise. The project has scope for being re-run and developed in other locations.

We believe the project is an important statement because society has rejected so much of formal religion and yet, at the same time, is longing for greater spiritual fulfilment. I am fascinated by biblical phrases that are still in common use in our language such as, ‘shake the dust’ or ‘salt of the earth’. Very few now know where these sayings come from. We deliberately wanted the project to be a series of art installations in their own right but, at the same time as with the whole genre of religious paintings, they couldn’t help but also be a testimony to biblical faith.
The project also has an important message for the Church which uses these texts week after week. So much of the impact of the sayings of Jesus have been domesticated and emasculated by only being used in Church when, originally, they were spoken in the public realm. To encounter the words of Jesus at the hairdressers challenges us to take our faith into our everyday lives; not just to lock it up in Church. There is a double impact and, at its best, that would be understood by both the Art and Christian communities.


Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Creating the Advent Art Installation

The Advent Art installation is a joint project involving six churches in the Greater Ilford area: St Alban's, St Andrew's, St John's, St Luke's, St Margaret's and the Vine Church. The Installation, which has been designed by a planning group with representatives from St John's, St Luke's, St Margaret's together with Henry, comprises three panels of mirrored perspex mounted on wooden backing panels and will be displayed in turn in the six churches during Advent.

One of the key concepts of the artwork is that people will become a part of the installation by viewing themselves in its mirrored surfaces. The project's aim is that the installation will form the focal point in churches creating a place of stillness and reflection that will enable Christians and non Christians to relax and reflect. Scatter cushions, candles and music will be used to create a contemplative environment around the installation.

Revd. John Brown, Priest in Charge of St Luke's Great Ilford and the initiator of the Advent Art Installation, says:

"The Advent Art Installation is a mobile art project being designed, executed and then displayed in the Ilford area from 1st to 24th December 2008. It will form the focal point in our churches for a place of stillness and reflection. The aim is to create a restful space that would enable Christians and non Christians alike to find a space, relax, reflect and be an alternative to the business that the Christmas period brings. It will enable our churches to be opened to the wider public and hopefully mean that they can discover a place of peace and quiet. We have chosen the theme of light as a symbol that crosses faiths and cultures and therefore would have as wide appeal as possible."

Henry Shelton says:

"It’s the first time I’ve been part of a community project. I’ve found it very interesting at the initial meetings and am looking forward to working on the project with the rest of the team. Our purpose is to provide a peaceful environment to reflect on the meaning of Advent amongst all the busyness of Christmas preparations. Real thanks are due to John Brown for his vision for the project."

The Advent Art Installation will be exhibited for the first time at St John's Seven Kings from 3rd - 5th October as part of their Patronal Festival art exhibition. This exhibition will also feature, together with the works of local and established artists, a set of Stations of the Cross by Henry Shelton that were exhibited last year at York Minister.


Gillian Welch, David Rawlings & Ricky Skaggs - By The Mark.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Art interviews - Bishop of Barking (1)

The Rt Revd David Hawkins was consecrated bishop on 17 October 2002 and began his public ministry as Anglican Bishop of Barking in the Diocese of Chelmsford in January 2003. He has special responsibility for mission and parish development.

JE. You use a lot of visual imagery in your public ministry where most of your sermons or talks contain at least one acted out parable. I can remember seeing you stand on your head (after a number of attempts!); release doves; cook a meal; wash and iron clothes; and hang ‘L’ plates around your neck and those of confirmation candidates. Why is the visual of such importance to you in communicating with people publicly?

DH. For me it is instinctive. I think visually, it is the way I am wired. I am fired by visual images because of my interest in and practice of art. The visual is the most instinctive tool I have. After all, a picture says more than a thousand words. All through history people have been educated and informed primarily through visual images. Jesus also used visuals in his very concrete teaching, so I feel I’m in good company in using everyday objects to make connections for others. I love to use surprise, shock, mirth and amusement in order to make what are hopefully memorable spiritual and theological points. In Church, in spite of centuries where the Church has been a patron of the Arts, the primary means of communicating faith is our insistence on using far too many words which often go right over people’s heads.

JE. Where does your interest in the visual come from originally and how has that interest been developed over the course of your ministry?

DH. I think of myself as an artist first and a clergyperson second. Chronologically, I have been painting and drawing since my colouring book days. Art has been a lifetime pursuit. I was ordained aged 24 but have had a calling to paint since childhood. Therefore, it is natural for me to use visual imagery in communication. It has never been a self conscious decision for me; a trying out of this, that or the other.

Early memories for me, as a child, include seeing Rene Magritte’s Time Transfixed and Salvador Dali’s Lobster Telephone which are bizarre juxtapositions of everyday objects. Now, when I think of the resurrection, I think of a washing machine in front of a communion table. Such juxtapositions help to make familiar preaching themes fresh and to make connections for those who listen. In recent sermons, I have placed in the sanctuary a bath and, a few weeks before seeing the Helter Skelter slides at the Tate Modern (Carsten Holler’s Test Site 2006), I used a children’s slide. I also use a wall of 8 x 4 whiteboards on which to paint stories, which I find works well with All-Age audiences. I feel nervous relying solely on words.

JE. Who or what has influenced in that development? Are there particular artists, periods of art or theologians who have heightened your appreciation of the visual?

DH. There are a large number of artists and periods that I find absorbing, for example, Rembrandt’s religious paintings or the work of Van Gogh. However, what fires me most are contemporary artists such as Terry Frost, Sam Francis, Ivon Hitchens and Howard Hodgkins. The emotional landscapes of Hodgkins are startlingly memorable and I love the iconic impact of his colours.

I am also fascinated by the prophetic influence of so many artists that people would seldom consciously recognise but to which they unconsciously respond. The work of Mark Rothko, which can now be found on calendars and tea towels, seems to be speaking into a longing for a contemplative or mystical expression in people’s lives. Less people now experience this sense in Church leading to a spiritual void in many people’s lives. On Sunday mornings the Art Galleries in London are jammed with people and Art seems to be filling something of this void in people. The prophetic and spiritual vocation of artists is, therefore, more important than it has been for a long time.

The remarkable success of the Tate Modern and, in particular, the Turbine Hall installations, is evidence of this phenomenon. The Weather Project left people awestruck by the everyday phenomenon of the weather. Contemplating our atmosphere and weather in a gallery providing us with a way of reflecting on experiences that are bigger than our individual lives. Embankment contained thousands of cardboard boxes in their emptiness – icebergs of discarded emptiness – which reflected the experience that many people have in their lives. Now, there are the helter skelter slides. In each case these installations are formed from everyday phenomenon but they provide the opportunity for reflection and contemplation. In this way, the Turbine Hall is like a well-filled modern Cathedral.


Noah and the Whale - Give A Little Love.

Think: Fast

In the year 2000 global leaders made 8 promises to the poorest of poor; 8 Millennium Development Goals which, if fulfilled, would halve global poverty by 2015. The goals provided a unique opportunity to eradicate the most extreme forms of poverty from this world. We are now over half way through the time set and time is running short.

This September is a pivotal time as world leaders come together for an emergency UN meeting to determine whether the Millennium Development Goals will be met.

Think: Fast is an initiative proposed by the Bishop of London, in partnership with Micah Challenge, to urge Christians – in London and beyond - to take action by praying and fasting in the ten days leading up to the UN meeting.


Marvin Gaye - Mercy, Mercy Me.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Windows on the world (20)

Seven Kings, 2008

This Windows on the world photo features in the current edition of the Ilford Recorder on the Scenes of Redbridge page.


Michael McDermott - My Father's Son.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Why are our orchestras so white?

Ethnic minority musicians are a rarity in Britain's classical establishment, and those who do make the grade often feel they have to work twice as hard to break through. Why has multiculturalism not reached the orchestra pit? The Observer talked to some musical trailblazers, including my friend Althea Ifeka from St Margaret's Barking.
The result is a fascinating article with Althea suggesting that "the lack of black orchestral musicians is about money, not colour." In other words, "it's a bad career choice ... first-generation immigrants don't want their children going into a profession that is uncertain and poorly rewarded."
Althea's debut CD, From Leipzig to London, explores the innovative role of J.S. Bach in creating the earliest duo sonatas, by presenting three sonatas now known to date from his Leipzig period performed on the oboe, oboe d'amore and cor anglais and harpsichord. The demise of the oboe as a solo instrument and the complete demise of the harpsichord during the nineteenth century were overturned in the twentieth as both instruments made impressive comebacks. The four modern pieces were inspired by the duo partnership of Evelyn Rothwell (Lady Barbirolli), oboe and Valda Aveling, harpsichord, and form a powerful overview of the different compositional styles at work in London in the mid to late twentieth century.
Marsha Heller & Elaine Comparone - Organ Trio Sonata in E minor.

Racial Justice Sunday sermon

This sermon was heavily based on the Racial Justice Sunday materials produced by the Racial Justice Network of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. The main reading was Isaiah 25. 6-9:

I wonder how differently people here will answer this question:

“Where have you lived since you were born?”

Migration is a fact of life with increasing mobility throughout society and the world. I may not have lived in our countries but just within this country have lived in thirteen different homes in eleven different cities, towns or villages.

With that increased mobility increasingly every community and every church reflects more of the diversity of humankind. This brings challenges and possibilities which tend to dominate political debate within the UK as has occurred once again this week. There are arguments over statistics and immigration controls. People question whether migrants are a threat to our national life or whether society is enriched by increased diversity. We all face the challenge of what we can do locally to get to know our neighbours of other races, cultures and faiths and what we can do to avoid polarization in our communities.

For Racial Justice Sunday this year we are looking at the Biblical theme which celebrates the reality of diversity in the promise of a banquet to which all the peoples of the world are invited. That is the theme that we saw in our reading from Isaiah. In Isaiah’s vision of the banquet, as so often in the Bible, God’s purpose is radically inclusive, but not utopian.

The tears and sorrows that divide people from each other and scar our experience of life are acknowledged and healed as God brings all nations to the table. This Sunday is also traditionally celebrated as ‘The Triumph of the Cross’ and the cross is the sign of the forgiveness that enables us to come and eat from the same table. Because we are forgiven we know that we cannot return to the divisions of our old way of life. Because we are forgiven we can begin to live a new life and begin to build the kingdom with Christ and through Christ. The old need not hold us back.

The sign of our forgiveness is the cross. The sign of our living the new life of the cross is the eucharist. At the beginning of the eucharist we confess our sins. Before communion we shake hands and embrace in a sign of reconciliation. So the eucharist recognises a broken world, but in the power of the cross and as a joyous feast, it remakes the world as Christ called us to do.

Just as in the eucharist there is confession of sin and signs of reconciliation before we share the feast, so in our world before all nations can come to God’s banquet there has to be preparation. Isaiah 25. 7 says, “He will remove the cloud of sorrow that has been hanging over the nations.”

What are the “clouds of sorrows” hanging over the nations today? We can think of the many conflicts and disasters that are occurring, most caused in some way by human selfishness and greed. What are the “clouds of sorrows” hanging over our community today? We might think of the inequalities that exist in many communities and which explode in gang culture and knife crime. How can these “clouds of sorrows” be healed and removed? What can be done in our world, our community, our church to bring healing and justice into the sorrows that we face?

For us, the promise of the banquet is fulfilled in the healing work of Christ, who said: “This is my body” and also “Those who come to me will never be hungry.” (John 6. 35) In the letters of Paul, it is Christians themselves who are Christ’s body, broken for the world. All Christians therefore participate in both the banquet itself and in the essential preparation of bringing justice.

The concept of the body of Christ includes the idea that when one part of the body suffers, all suffer. Christians therefore have a responsibility to be aware of each other’s pain and to exercise mutual care. We are to be concerned not just about the pain and suffering of other Christians, although that is vital as with those Christians currently suffering persecution in Orissa, but also that of all peoples, because God’s care is universal and all people are invited to God’s banquet.

That is why our Stewardship pack and campaign at St John's includes the opportunity to reflect on our involvement in our local community. One of the five marks of mission mentioned in the pack is to seek to transform the unjust structures of society and we can make a start at doing so through some of the things mentioned on the sheet headed up ‘Transforming our Community.’ This sheet is for you to use and keep for yourself as it is about the ways in which you are or can become involved in the local community. The sheets to do with giving time, talents and money to the Church need to be returned on the Sunday of our Patronal Festival but this sheet is for you to keep and action yourself.

Thinking about Stewardship doesn’t just involve thinking about church. If our faith and action are all tied up in Church activities then we have very little impact on the wider community. The universal nature of God’s call that we have been thinking about today means that we must also demonstrate our faith in action in our community and world. One of the great challenges and opportunities for the Church in the UK is that God has brought people of all nations to our own doorstep and community. And so we can play an active part in removing the clouds of sorrow, in bringing justice, in preparing for the banquet to which all nations are invited and to which all nations will come.


The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible.

TASK Newsletter No. 10

As our damp squib of a summer gives way to autumn, TASK has been very much back in action and here is our monthly round-up of some of what's been happening where we are.

Cleaning-up the area

Even before the school holidays were over, TASK were out and about on the streets, running a High Road tidy-up- where supporters, the local safer neighbourhood police team and councillors quite literally collected and bagged rubbish on a saturday morning using pick-up kit loaned by the council cleansing team. In just over an hour, over 9 bags were overflowing with all kinds of waste, clearly demonstrating that a 24/7 location like Seven Kings needs constant vigilance to keep things barely ticking over. We will be making a funding bid to Council Area 5 committee so we can buy some pickers and do the pick-up regularly across our patch. Thanks to all of the volunteers and hope to see even more of you next time

A week later, we hosted our regular walkabout with council officials, monitoring the state of our streetscape in terms of things like uncollected rubbish, ilegal dumping, signing and graffiti. Our sense is that whilst people tell us things are much better than a year ago, improvements are fragile and we need to maintain constant pressure so there is no slippage. Helpfully, and for the first time, we were joined by licensing team members on the walkabout, picking up on our concerns about late opening and proper licensing for the vast number of takeouts. We are also concerned that still more takeout franchises continue to open, despite the over concentration of such outlets locally. We will continue to oppose all inappropriate developments, although it sometimes feels that we are fighting a David and Goliath battle.

Much more positively, Seven Kings station has been given a major makeover, having been selected as one of just two stations on the whole Liverpool Street line to benefit from special attention. On the 13 September, rail operator national express sent a number of their senior officers and executives to do some hard practical graft,supported by a small army of workers. As a result, we now have a shiny, clean, newly painted and freshly gardened station that harks back to the glory days of the 1960s, when Seven Kings apparently held the award of best -dressed station. Congratulations to all concerned, and most especially TASK's own Ali Hai, who has kept up the pressure, and the excellent Sailesh Satyani, from national express, who has led from the front.

Seven Kings library

There's no doubting that this is the big news story that just refuses to go away. It has received strong local newspaper coverage and regional interest from BBC London, whose online news carries detailed coverage

To recap, TASK have been campaigning for a new library in Seven Kings on the basis that

1) the old one on the corner of Kingswood Road should never have been closed and flogged off
2) a new library is consistently identified as the key local service need by residents- quite simply, almost everone wants one!
3) we are the only part of Redbridge that does not have access to a static library within one mile distance
4) shockingly, in a cruel double whammy, we also get a less comprehensive mobile library service than other areas with static libraries
5) a number of local locations are available, most notably the High Road car/ lorry park development, whose planning brief talked about having a strong community component and would kick- start a desparately needed wider regeneration of the neighbourhood

Having recently opened a new library in Clayhall at record speed, despite having no local campaigning for one, and attracting limited custom, the Council Cabinet- made up of the most powerful councillors- maintain that the existing service is acceptable and that Seven Kings can expect nothing more. All of which rather confirms our view that as far as the Cabinet are concerned we are second class citizens who can go sing.

If that is their view, they have misread the mood. TASK will not back off, and is currently promoting a petition to get a library back at the centre of Seven Kings. This will go to full Council as a sign of how much support we have. Copies are available in almost every High Road shop or at the local stations and we urge you to sign yourself, and to encourage friends, neighbours and family to do likewise. Our goal is for an ambitious 1000 names.

We are confident that we can win this campaign, but need your support. And your signature. As news breaks, we will provide you with regular e-updates so watch this space.

Meads Lane post office

Closed as part of the national drive to reduce post office numbers, the former Meads Lane PO is now running solely as a school unifomers, depriving postmaster David Shah of an income, local residents of a truly exceptional community service provider and other Meads Lane traders of a valuable business magnet. We urge all TASK supporters who are parents to make use of their local school uniform shop and will be pressing the council on developing it for alternative uses, heartened by news just in from Essex County Council, which has boldly re/opened one closed PO as a Council supported post office cum local service point. The evidence is now there that it can be done . Hopefully Redbridge will follow this best practice example and copy its neighbouring authority.


Over the last few years, online social networking site Facebook has attained legendary status and we are pleased to say, TASK are now using it too. We have just signed oursleves up and have a growing presence, which allows us to share news, event details, photos and local discussions much faster than traditional newsletters or email. Over half our supporters have email addressess so do please dip into Facebook, search for Take Action for Seven Kings and hopefully sign up as a friend. We are the fastest growing community group in Redbridge and think this new option will add to the speed and depth of our campaign work . The good news is that you don't have to be an IT wizard to sign up and it literally takes just a few seconds.

Area 5 Festival

Local councillors are looking to run a festival in the Goodmayes, Chadwell Heath and Seven Kings areas during summer 2009 and we have been invited to offer our thoughts as part of a planning group. The first meeting is at 4pm on Monday October 23 at the United Free Church on Norfolk Road and we are looking for someone able to attend and represent us. All offers of help pleas to Chris Connelley at

That's enough for now. More next month- including dates of our autumn TASK supporters get togethers. Now please pass this on to a friend, relative or neighbour who lives locally and might be interested in supporting us. Word of mouth and direct recommendation are our best recruiters and the more support we have, the more we can achieve as its harder for powerful people to ignore us.


Billy Bragg - Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Art interview - Henry Shelton (2)

JE: Your etched glass windows at All Saints Goodmayes were dedicated earlier in the year by the Bishop of Barking. How did it feel to have been able to leave this major legacy at the church where you worship?

HS: To have my work in churches, coupled with an exhibition at York Minister last year, really is the fulfilment of my life’s work. I don’t have much ambition to show in galleries. The whole point for me is to create reaction and engage people; for people to enjoy and be moved by my work just as I’ve been engaged by the work of other artists.

JE: The memorial windows were over-subscribed and I understand that the experience has led you to develop ideas for an Art Society assisting churches to commission new work. Can you tell us more about your plans for this Society?

HS: The purpose of the Society will be to promote modern Christian Art in all its forms (i.e. painting, sculpture, music etc.) and by doing so to raise money for charity, particularly children’s charities. I want us to be offering quality work and craftsmanship, rather than mass-produced work, to continue the legacy of the Church as a great commissioner of art. The Church has, in fact, commissioned some of the greatest works of art ever produced.

JE: Your ideas for a Christian Art Society are coming together at a time when several other art-related initiatives are being developed in the Barking Area (including a re-launch of the Faith & Image group at St Mary's Woodford and the Advent Art installation project initiated by Revd. John Brown). Do you see possibilities for a wider network of folk with an interest in the visual artists coming together in the Barking Area, in particular because the Bishop of Barking is himself an artist?

HS: Bishop David has agreed to become patron of the new Society and has showed great interest in the success of the venture. We are already seeing interest from churches in the Barking Area in exploring the possibility of commissioning windows, stations and other paintings as memorials.
JE: You are currently part of the group which is creating an Advent Art installation for churches in Redbridge. How have you found this experience of collaborating on an art project and what do you hope the project will achieve?

HS: It’s the first time I’ve been part of a community project. I’ve found it very interesting at the initial meetings and am looking forward to working on the project with the rest of the team. Our purpose is to provide a peaceful environment to reflect on the meaning of Advent amongst all the busyness of Christmas preparations. Real thanks are due to John Brown for his vision for the project.

JE: You have had a varied career having done creative work in commercial design and in fine art while your work is displayed in private homes, churches and commercial complexes. What do you can be the legacy that an artist like you can leave in our contemporary, consumerist culture?

HS: It’s a very difficult question to answer but, as I said earlier, when I look at a Rembrandt, the picture transcends the centuries and is as powerful today as when it was created. I am proud to be a very small part of that artistic and Church lineage and hope that my images will react on people in years to come in the same way that the masters have reacted on me. When I did the York Minister exhibition, one of the Canons said that my deposition image connected for him with images he had seen on TV of mothers holding their dead children. My image was powerful for him because he could relate it to modern episodes; sometimes it is remarks like that that tell me why it is that I paint.

Noah and the Whale: Five Years Time.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Ethics in a global economy

'Ethics in a global economy' which will be a participatory and engaging exploration of faith perspectives on business ethics, at the level both of the global economy and the individual workplace.
The seminar is especially designed for all who face ethical issues in their business lives by Faiths in London 's Economy (FiLE), a new network which is working to create coordinated faith-community responses to the issues facing London 's economy.
Contributors include: Saif Ahmad (CEO, Muslim Aid); Jay Lakhani (Head, Hindu Academy), Dr. Edmund Newell (Director, St Paul 's Institute).

Wednesday 29th October, 8.30am - 2.00pm (breakfast & lunch provided) at St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, 78 Bishopgate, London EC2N 4AG. Cost: £50.00 for organisations, £25.00 for individuals. To book a place call Emma at Faith Regen Foundation on 020 8361 2288 or email her at
For more information,

Aradhna - Prem Milan.

Art interview - Henry Shelton (1)

After a successful career as a commercial product designer, Henry Shelton's time is now mainly set aside for his religious paintings. He says: "People often ask me what inspires me to paint a picture. Well, there are many reasons of course and I guess it doesn’t pay to analyse them too closely. I only know that when I stand facing a blank canvas I do hope to find inspiration from somewhere. Usually an idea will come to me when I least expect it and long before I can actually begin painting. All creative people will agree that a good idea can come to you anywhere, any time. But I like to think there may be a little “Divine Intervention” in what I do as my ideas are certainly intended to witness our Christian faith and depict images that will touch us all to the very core of our beliefs." Henry is involved in developing plans to launch a Christian Art Society which will encourage the commissioning and placing of contemporary Christian Art in churches, as a means of fundraising for charities.
JE: You've said that you first became aware of the importance of Christian Art as a choir boy in West Ham. What was it that attracted you to Christian Art at that time?

HS: It was the same thing that attracted me to the great Dutch masters; the art spoke to me. I used to look at the altar and see images that were just so powerful. The images seemed to bring the past into the present and to form a profound link with the lineage of the past.

JE: You originally trained as a draughtsman. What impact do you think that has had on your art?

HS: The impact has been tremendous. I studied as a lettering artist which taught me drawing skills and discipline, and led me to study great artists, like the typographer and artist, Eric Gill.

JE: In what ways have you been influenced by the work of other artists and how has that influence been felt in your work?

HS: When I first saw the great Rembrandt’s in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the power of his images seemed to transcend time. I see myself as an artist trying in my small way to continue that lineage and my passion as a Christian artist is to keep that lineage alive in my generation as a witness.

JE: Over the years, and through your commercial and Christian Art, you have worked in a variety of styles with a high degree of felicity. How do you choose an appropriate style for the image you have in mind?

HS: As I’ve got older I’ve come to see the picture in my mind before I start working on it. For example, the windows that I designed for All Saints Goodmayes needed to be modern but representational and so I had to develop a specific simple visual style for the images before I could begin work.

JE: Your most recent Christian Art works, which are to be included in the 'Visual Dialogue' exhibition at St Johns Seven Kings from 3rd-5th October, seem to have a 'less is more' approach as you are painting in a semi-abstract style with pared down imagery. What has led you to this approach?

HS: The real answer is prayer. My most recent pictures have all come to me in prayer as I have been meditating on particular Bible passages. Most of my work now comes through a meditational process.

Someone recently asked me what my current painting is and it’s an abstract painting of the gates of heaven. That’s an amusing image in its own right; putting up a ladder to paint the gates of heaven! As an abstract work people won’t immediately know what it represents. It’s an image designed to draw people in; for them to engage with it and discuss it.

JE: You make use of minimal flowing lines to create the human figures in your 'Stations of the Cross' (also to be exhibited at St John's) and your etched windows at All Saints Goodmayes and yet the minimalism of these works seems deeply expressive. How do you see the emotion seep into the work through the combination of line and colour alone?

HS: It is the pathos of suffering. As I’ve got older I’ve learnt that ‘less is more’ and through the development of my work I’ve learnt to express emotion in a semi-abstract form. That’s really why I paint; it all goes back to feeling.

Mat Kearney - Undeniable.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

BBC report library story

The top news story on BBC London news for Redbridge is the debate over Seven Kings Library: see

TASK founder Chris Connelley is quoted as saying: "The mobile service is totally ludicrous and insufficient for the number of people who live here. The mobile service doesn't offer a full range of library services and we only get relatively limited stops meaning Seven Kings is losing out on two counts ... We still believe a new library on the development site would provide the best option for local people in Seven Kings who are suffering because of the limited library services available. We will not stop pursuing this."

On a more positive note, Seven Kings station (from all the stations on the Liverpool Street Line) has been chosen for special attention this Saturday (13th September) by National Express. Many of National Express's directors and staff will be getting their hands dirty by spending a day cleaning up Seven Kings station. They have invited any Seven Kings residents and TASK members to come along (refreshments etc provided) to join the event. The event is between 9am and 5pm this Saturday and people can come along at any time to join in.


Green Day & U2 - Saints are coming.

Monday, 8 September 2008

The Ways of Affirmation & Rejection

I've been musing on the ways of affirmation and rejection since being at Greenbelt. This has been prompted by the The Garden's installation/performance Possibility of the Impossible and Pete Rollins' discussion of Bonhoeffer's 'religionless Christianity'.

The sense of their being two ways by which we can approach God was clarified for me in the writings of Charles Williams. Williams' views on these two ways have been summarised as follows:

"The Way of Affirmation consists in recognizing the immanence of God in all things, and says that appreciation of whom and what God has made may lead us to appreciation of Himself. The Way of Rejection concentrates on the transcendence of God, the recognition that God is never fully contained in His creation; it says that we must renounce all lesser images if we would apprehend His. These two Ways have been expressed by the paradox "This also is Thou; neither is this Thou," and tend generally to illustrate, respectively, Catholic or Protestant thought in their attitudes toward the use of images.

While Williams insists that a complement of both these Ways is necessary to the life of every Christian, and that none of us can walk the Kingdom's narrow road by only affirming or only rejecting ... yet he contends that Christians are usually called primarily to one Way or the other. Williams himself was a practitioner of the Way of Affirmation. Explains C. S. Lewis:

'[Williams was] a romantic theologian in the technical sense which he himself invented for those words ... The belief that the most serious and ecstatic experiences either of human love or of imaginative literature have such theological implications, and that they can be healthy and fruitful only if the implications are diligently thought out and severely lived, is the root principle of all his work.'"

As an artist and priest, i.e. someone dealing on a daily basis, with signs, images, metaphors and symbols, it seems to me that I cannot do other than primarily follow the Way of Affirmation. My Greenbelt posts finished with the dilemma that, ultimately, both ways seem to exclude the other.

However, Williams holds out some possibility for these two ways been complementary aspects of the life of a Christian but I am unclear, other than shuttling back and forth beteen the two, how this might work in practice. On this front, though, it is interesting that both Rollins and The Garden are making extensive use of the Arts and of imagery in order to discuss what is essentially apophatic theology (the Way of Rejection). In doing so, they are either not fully appropriating apophatic theology or have seen ways of appropriating Williams' suggestion of a complementarity between affirmation and rejection in ways that I have yet to understand.

In thinking about the theology of betrayal, as Rollins' does in this latest book, it would be useful to introduce the ideas of W. H. Vanstone in The Stature of Waiting into the debate. This book is based on a search for a different understanding of the betrayal of Judas from the understanding that has been traditional in the Church and which throws light on the exprience of waiting and dependence as signs and consequences of the image of God in us. Also of relevance would be the theme of betrayal in the plays of Dennis Potter with his masterpiece The Singing Detective being a stunning example both of the effect of betrayal and the way in which re-living and re-shaping the experience of betrayal can lead to recovery.


John Train and Peter Case - Two Angels.

Windows on the world (19)

Liverpool, 2008
Social Distortion - I Was Wrong.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Drawings, film & Windows on the world (18)

Westminster, 2008

I had a real day off yesterday going to Tate Britain and the Whitechapel Gallery, taking a number of 'Windows on the world' photos as I wandered around Westminster, and watching Elizabeth: The Golden Age on dvd in the evening.

With the periodic rehangs of the permanent collection, a trip to Tate Britain is always interesting. Yesterday I enjoyed seeing drawings by William Blake, Cecil Collins, David Jones, Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer in Drawn from the Collection where there were also achingly honest and painful autobiography from Tracey Emin and cinematic fragmented narratives chalked on blackboards by Tacita Dean. A David Jones was included along with a Gwen John in Ryan Gander's Art Now: The Way In Which It Landed, 1939 a strong Hans Feibusch was in the Asylum room, and there were several wonderful Graham Sutherland's the Art from Nature display.

At the Whitechapel I saw The Man in the Background by Lene Berg which consists of found home-movie images repeated with different narratives that gradually reveal a complex double life shaped by Cold War cultural politics. In this film Lene Berg seeks to raise a critical awareness of history as a source of knowledge, and the more or less given understanding, we have of history. Through creating puzzles of narratives, she questions how "official history" relates to subjectivity as well as how and on what grounds we can assess the consequences of art, literature, philosophy and research? Did the CIA use artists and intellectuals for their own good, or was it in fact, just as much the other way around? Was the CIA immoral or not? Is an artist under any obligation to be honest?


The Band (featuring The Staple Singers) - The Weight.

Church renewal

East Window at St Martin-in-the-Fields
(designed by Shirazeh Houshiary, in collaboration with architect Pip Horne)

The latest edition of RA, the Royal Academy of Arts magazine, features two Church renewal projects that have been overseen by its members.

The first is the well-known and highly successful renewal of St Martin-in-the-Fields by Eric Parry RA. It was in January 2006 that St Martin's embarked on the £36 million building project to restore and transform the church and surrounding buildings, and create a new sequence of beautiful, practical and inspirational spaces to serve the community, visitors and those in need. Due for completion at the end of 2008 the project is progressing well, with the restoration of the church almost complete and the new underground spaces open to the public.

Natural light now floods into the church bringing it closer to James Gibbs’s original, much-imitated Baroque design. The glorious decorative plasterwork of the ceiling has been restored; the pulpit relocated close to its original place, to improve the sightlines for congregation and audiences; and the chancel reordered to allow greater flexibility for worship and concerts. The finishing touch for the church itself is the installation of a new East Window, designed by artist Shirazeh Houshiary and architect Pip Horne, to replace the window installed following World War II bomb damage. Other significant new features are a glass-walled entrance pavilion and a remodelling of the crypt to include a new parish hall, rehearsal and office space, shop, and an enlarged cafe.

The second is the sculptor Anthony Caro who, over a period of several years, has been working on a major series of sculptures and architectural features to form part of the restoration of a chapel at Bourbourg in Northern France, about 12 miles east of Calais.

The Chapel of Light is situated in the choir of the Church of St Jean Baptiste. During World War II, a damaged English aircraft crash-landed on the roof of the church in order to avoid the houses in the town, and set it on fire. The church itself was restored, but the choir was separated by a wall from the body of the church and left in ruins until ten years ago. Caro was commissioned by the French Ministry for Culture and Communication to make a sculptural installation that would bring new life to the redundant choir.

Specifically for the project he has designed and built two huge internal oak towers each about 18 feet high. These towers are to be used for musical performances and allow vertical exploration of the church space. Caro has also made a concrete baptismal pool and a spectacular series of steel, wood and terracotta sculptures to fill a series of niches in the walls of the apex to the choir. Various other sculptures complete the east and west naves, linked through a doorway to a large exterior sculpture in corten steel. The sculptures follow the themes of The Creation (relating to the baptismal font) culminating in Adam and Eve.

Caro recognises that this monumental project is an exceptional opportunity for an artist. He stated, 'The light in the church is wonderful and it is such a privilege as an artist to be given a whole space to work with'. Not since Matisse's Chapel in Vence has another artist been given this opportunity."

The Church will be inaugurated on Saturday 11 October 2008 during a weekend of events to include the openings of the three exhibitions in Calais, Dunkerque and Gravelines.


Gustav Holst - On This Day Earth Shall Ring (Personet Hodie).

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Art project plans

As you can see above the backing panels for the Advent Art installation were built over the summer and on Tuesday the planning group measured up ready to order the mirrored perspex that will be fixed to them. We expect that to arrive next week following which work on the installation can begin in earnest.

On Wednesday John Brown and I met with Mark Lewis of the Faith & Image group to discuss ways of working together to deliver an ongoing programme of arts events that can be a part of the Barking Programme. We discussed ideas for exhibitions, study sessions on 'Public Art & Churches' and 'Seeing Salvation', the creation of a Church-based art trail in the Barking Episcopal Area and performances blending words, images and music.

As a taster of what may be to come, we have Visual Dialogue 2 and the Barking Art Project on the weekend of 3rd-5th October:

Visual Dialogue 2 is a group art exhibition arranged for the Patronal Festival of St John's Seven Kings from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th October 2008. The exhibition will include established and local artists including Henry Shelton, Alan Stewart, Rodney Bailey, Bob, Dennis & Liz Keenan, Jonathan Evens, Doreen Gullett, Peggy Hull and others.

Henry Shelton has had a successful career as a designer and fine artist. He has received design commissions for clients such as the Science Museum, Borough Councils, private and corporate bodies and has works in Churches such as the Church of the Saviour, Chell Heath, St Andrew Holborn and All Saints Goodmayes. Henry will exhibit several of his most recent works and a Stations of the Cross that was exhibited in 2007 at York Minster.

Alan Stewart is a Church of England minister and a fine artist. He has exhibited previously at London Bible College, London Institute of Contemporary Christianity, and Intermission at St Saviours. In 2005 his painting Early one morning was dedicated by the Bishop of Barking for the Youth Chapel of St Margaret's Barking. His most recent project, Hertford stns: A stations of the cross for Hertford, was the subject of a feature article in the Church Times.

Rodney Bailey studied Design and Public Art at Chelsea College. His work is concerned with identity, communication, and having a visual dialogue with nature. He uses a variety of styles to execute his work and draws on his family background and childhood memories for ideas as well as his Buddhist practice for inspiration and guidance. Last year Rodney exhibited in Eye Play at the Bankside Gallery and the inaugural Visual Dialogue exhibition at St John's Seven Kings.

As part of Visual Dialogue 2 we also plan to be able to exhibit for the first time the art installation that will tour Redbridge churches during Advent 2008 and which was featured in the previous edition of the newsletter.

Visual Dialogue 2 begins with an opening night reception from 7.30pm on Friday 3rd October to which all are welcome. In addition to viewing the exhibition and refreshments, the evening with feature a public conversation between myself and several of the exhibiting artists. The exhibition will continue on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th October from 10.00am to 4.00pm.

The Barking Art Project is an art workshop providing a great opportunity to spend some time thinking about abstract art and developing your creative side as much of the day will be spent in creating your own piece of art on a religious theme. We will provide artistic materials for you to come and explore this God given side to humanity. There will also be the opportunity to see the Visual Dialogue 2 art exhibition and the Advent Art installation. All are welcome.

The Art Project workshop will be held on Saturday 4th October from 11.00 am – 3.00 pm at St John’s Seven Kings. Full costs for the day are £10.00. Bookings can be made through Revd John Brown, The Barking Programme, St. Luke’s Vicarage, 1A Baxter Road, Ilford, Essex IG1 2HN. Tel: 0208 553-7606. Email:


Runrig - Edge Of The World.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Write to the PM about MDGs

The Bishop of Chelmsford has called attention to the millions of lives which depend on the promises made in the Millennium Development Goals.

He has urged the churches in Chelmsford diocese to write to the Prime Minister before he leaves for the meeting of the United Nations on September 25 to support him in pressing on the meeting the desire to keep those promises.

Speaking of the passion across the recent Lambeth Conference on the urgent necessity of meeting the Millennium Development Goals, the Bishop has said: “Time and again people from north and south would say that they were tired of having to argue about sex and the church when millions were dying because of our failure to act.”

Bishop John’s reflections on the 2008 Lambeth Conference can be read by clicking here. He concludes his reflections by writing:

"Throughout the conference people of every theological perspective talked about their love of Jesus, their desire to call the world into discipleship and obedient faith, and of their own commitment to a Gospel of welcome and hospitality for all. The church is not a sect for the likeminded but a community of faith, drawing people of every culture and context into a life of holy and life-giving love in Christ.

If Anglicanism is to mean anything in the 21st century, and if it is to make its contribution to the future of both church and world it must hold fast to this great tradition and to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with all its deep demands upon what we stand for in this fragile 21st century world.

Thank you for your prayers for us throughout this Lambeth process. Your prayers have been answered and fresh opportunities put in front of us on the road ahead."


Sounds Of Blackness - Optimisitic.

Mystic Masque

The following comes from the latest Image Update:

"The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College will host an exclusive exhibition, Mystic Masque: Semblance and Reality in Georges Rouault, on view through December 7, 2008.

It marks the fiftieth anniversary of the 1958 death of the French Fauvist and Expressionist painter and printmaker, and aims to recover the artist for a new generation. The exhibition will comprise approximately 240 of Rouault's finest paintings, works on paper and stained glass -many never before displayed in North America.

Focusing on meanings preserved in the French word "masque," the exhibition explores the many outward "masks" Rouault loved to paint--those of circus players, prostitutes and judicial figures, as well as the iconic sainte face (holy face) of Christ. Employing a second sense of "masque," the exhibition presents Rouault's representation of the human condition as a kind of "pageant" or "guising"--or as Balzac put it, a "human comedy."

Rouault's world is an often tragic comedy of errors, marked by uncertainty and misapprehension. Outward appearances misrepresent and betray deeper realities. This is true both for society's marginal figures and esteemed ones. Rouault succinctly summed up this vision in his several studies entitled (quoting Virgil's Aeneid), "Sunt Lacrymae Rerum"--"There are tears (of grief) at the very heart of things." Schloesser explains: "Such dark reflections are redeemed for Rouault by the human masque's qualifier -"mystic" - which points to the centrality of Christian iconography for the artist."

Arranged chronologically, the exhibition seeks to demonstrate that Rouault's religious realism as it developed was far removed from any conventional piety. Rouault's human comedy is simultaneously a divine comedy; it is a masque - but one that is ultimately mystic."


Sufjan Stevens - John Wayne Gacy Jr.