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Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Rev Dr Sam Wells to examine renewal in the Church during Chalmers Lectures

Rev Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London and inspirational founder of the HeartEdge movement, will deliver the 2019 Chalmers Lectures this autumn. Entitled ‘A Future that’s Bigger than the Past’, the six lectures will focus on the theology and methods of HeartEdge as a vision for renewal in the Church.

Launched at St Martin-in-the-Fields in 2017, HeartEdge is a membership-based organisation, an ecumenical network of partners and a movement for renewal.

The name HeartEdge reflects the group’s purpose - for those working at the heart of commerce, culture and community, with those at the margins and on the edge.

Through joining the network, churches are supported in finding their stories, share resources and connect with others developing their church and community.

Dr Wells said he was looking forward to visiting Greyfriars Kirk and discussing the future direction of the church.

“What kind of church do we need to become if we are to face the challenges and take the opportunities of the years ahead?” he asked.

“I’m going to be looking at what it means to see culture, commerce and compassion as out-workings of congregational life, and sources of growth for the church in faithfulness as well as numbers.

“The lectures are called ‘A Future Bigger than the Past’ because I want listeners to rediscover a sense that this is a great time to be the Church and God is sending us everything we need to do the work of the Holy Spirit.”

A Future that’s Bigger than the Past

The six Chalmers Lectures being delivered by Dr Wells throughout the autumn at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh from 6pm-8pm are:
  • For Such a Time as This: Locating the UK Church in a global and gospel story – Tuesday 17 September
  • Investing in the Kingdom: Taking money beyond the benefactor and the steward – Wednesday 18 September
  • Minding God’s Business: Realigning commerce and Church – Thursday 19 September
  • Entertaining Angels Unawares: How God renews the Church through the stones that the builders reject – Tuesday 1 October
  • Let All the People Praise Thee: How the Church may be part of a cultural renaissance – Wednesday 2 October
  • On Earth as it is in Heaven: Towards a vision for the renewal of congregational life – Thursday 3 October
The final three lectures in the series will be heard during the HeartEdge Annual Conference.

Coinciding with the lectures, Dr Wells will publish a book where each lecture will be covered in separate chapters.

The book will be released on Monday 30 September and is available to pre-order now through Canterbury Press and CLC Bookshop.

HeartEdge Annual Conference in Edinburgh

Noting that the HeartEdge conference will overlap with the October Chalmers lectures, Dr Wells said: “I’m especially thrilled that the invitation to explore the theology and significance of HeartEdge has coincided with the second annual HeartEdge conference in Edinburgh.

“It feels like in the evenings we’ll be proposing the theory and during the days we’ll be exploring the practice. What a wonderful model of Church.”

The conference offers a practical, two-day intensive of ideas, theology and connecting, which is being jointly hosted this year by St Cuthbert’s Parish Church and St John’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh.

It includes workshops on enterprise and commerce, launching cultural projects, developing congregations and sustaining community response, plus time to make connections and find encouragements.

Alongside Dr Wells, contributors will include Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, Rev Rosie Addis, David Bradwell, Very Rev Dr Derek Browning, I.D. Campbell, Rev Peter Sutton, Rev Scott Rennie, Rev Fiona Smith, amongst many more.

“How do we reach out with compassion to those on the edges of faith and life, and what do we learn from them when we get alongside them?” asks Very Rev Dr Derek Browning.

“What does our faith and our experience of life challenge us to explore and to share?

“How do we take our faith and put it into practice so that it might make a difference for good?

“HeartEdge asks all of these questions, and suggests, in context, some of the possible answers.”
You’re invited.

The Chalmers Lectures at Greyfriars Kirk are open to the public, free to attend and will be held each evening between Tuesday 17 September-Thursday 19 September and Tuesday 1 October-Thursday 3 October at 6-8pm.

For those who are unable to attend in person, the lectures will also be live-streamed through the Church of Scotland website and available in audio format.

For access to the full programme of events at the HeartEdge conference, book your place here.

A one-day ticket starts from £40 and a two-day ticket starts from £80.

Your ticket includes lunch and refreshments across the course of the day.

For more information, please get in touch with Rev Jonathan Evens, HeartEdge organiser and Associate Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, by email or by telephoning: 020 7766 1127.

The Bevvy Sisters with The Soundhouse Choir - Get One Life.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Thinking Differently About God: Neurodiversity, Faith and Church

Saturday 12th October – Sunday 13th October 2019 

A weekend of events to mark our 8th annual conference on Disability and Church, a partnership between St Martin-in-the-Fields and Inclusive Church

Download the flyer here

Saturday 12th October 10.30-16.30 St Martin's Hall, St Martin-in-the-Fields
Thinking Differently About God: Neurodiversity, Faith and Church

Neurodiversity is the idea that there are natural variations in the way people think and process information. These include autism, ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia, and Tourette's- each a particular combination of needs and gifts. We'll be exploring our understanding of God and sharing experience of discovery, discrimination and discernment.

Speakers include: Bingo Allison, Dan Barnes-Davies, Sue Hartley, Phillip Hickman, Naomi Jacobs, Ann Memmott, Rachel Noel, Krysia Waldock, WAVE and Sam Wells.

Through plenary talks, in workshops and in small groups, with a silent space and a marketplace, we gather to resource each other and the church. Organised by and for neurodivergent people, supporters and those with an interest in the issues and ideas.

We prioritise the voices of neurodivergent people at this conference as they are rarely heard in church contexts. This is in keeping with the conference tradition to focus on the lived experience of disabled people themselves. Parents, carers, supporters and others with an interest are also welcome.

Register today at

Sunday 13th October 10-11.15, St Martin-in-the-Fields
Thinking Differently About God: Eucharist

We reflect on the weekend's themes in our main Eucharist using liturgy written by members of St Martin's Disability Advisory Group, under the guidance of Sam Wells. Address: Ann Memmott, main author of the Church of England guidelines on autism. BSL interpreted. All are welcome.

Sunday 13th October 14.00-16.30, St Martin's Hall
Thinking Differently

An afternoon programme using insights from the creative arts to explore the weekend's themes. Performance, panel discussions and workshops- details to be announced. You don't have to register in advance but it helps if you do. All are welcome.


Tickets are free, retiring collection to cover costs.


St Martin's Voices - A New Commandment.

Heavenly Harmonies: All Saints Hertford

HeartEdge members All Saints Hertford are excited to announce a new monthly concert series, exploring well-loved classics of the sacred choral repertoire though word and song. Refreshments from 11.00 with a 45-minute concert from 11.15 to 12.00 noon. Free Admission with Retiring Collection in aid of Church Funds.

Each of the monthly concerts will have an appropriate seasonal theme:
  • October 12th: Harvest
  • November 9th: Remembrance
  • December 7th: Advent
  • January 11th: The Wise Men
  • February 8th: Simeon & Anna
  • March 7th: Lent and Passiontide
  • May 9th: Eastertide
  • June 13th: Pentecost and Trinity
To launch the series, they are delighted to welcome St Martin's Voices and Andrew Earis on Saturday 24th August when they will take their audience through the entire year.


St Martin's Voices -  I Stood On The River Of Jordan.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Windows on the world (506)

London, 2019


Violent Femmes - 'I'm Nothing'

Friday, 26 July 2019

HeartEdge Mailer | July 2019

HeartEdge Mailer | July 2019

HeartEdge is an international ecumenical movement. 

We are churches and other organisations developing mission.
We focus on 4 areas - commercial activity, congregations, cultural engagement and compassion.
Join us! Details here.

Each month we collect and email stories, web links, news related to our focus: commercial activity, congregations, cultural engagement and compassion. Useful, inspiring, practical - it's a resource.

This month:
  • Maggi Dawn on diversity and worship, Lucie Shuker and Phoebe Hill on young people and belief and Bishop Michael Curry - on HeartEdge.
  • Helen Tomblin on comedy and Simon Sinek on the value of 'infinite games' and building trust in your team.
  • Marika Rose on bad Christianity and Michael Volland on entrepreneurship.
  • Plus - Full Cost Recovery and Sam Wells on meeting truth in the unexpected.

Lucrezia Orsina Vizzana – O Magnum Mysterium.

Church Times review - Che si può fare: Max Mara Art Prize for Women: Helen Cammock

My latest review for Church Times is of “Che si può fare: Max Mara Art Prize for Women: Helen Cammock”, which is in Gallery 2 at the Whitechapel Gallery:

'A response to the contemporary political situation in Italy, Che si può fare, like much of Cammock’s work, consistently addresses the complexities of our geopolitics ... The Long Note, for which she received her Turner Prize nomination, also brings women’s distinctive and diverse voices and perspectives to the fore, while Shouting in Whispers, exhibited alongside The Long Note, traverses the history of conflict from the period of the Vietnam War to the present day. All these works reveal Cammock’s ability to relay universal struggles and give a voice to the voiceless ...

Cammock, whose path to art and current success has been winding, is not among the entitled. Her focus is on others: she thrives and feels alive when meeting people — and hearing their voices. What is to be done? For Cammock, it is to hear the hidden voices of those on the edge.'


Barbara Strozzi - Che Si Può Fare.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Artlyst: Art, Faith, Church Patronage and Modernity

My latest article for Artlyst is about two recent publications that explore the place that religious Art occupied in 20th century Britain.

Paul Liss writes in ‘Art, Faith and Modernity’ of the under-researched nature of religious Art in 20th-century British visual culture which has meant that those artists who created art often for a church, are among the unsung heroines and heroes of Modern British Art. ‘Art, Faith and Modernity’ is the catalogue to an exhibition of 172 works by 73 artists which, together with art historian Alan Powers' catalogue essay, presents a strong argument for a reassessment of the critical place that religious Art continued to occupy in 20th century Britain.

‘Church and Patronage in 20th Century Britain: Walter Hussey and the Arts’ by Peter Webster is the first full-length treatment of Hussey’s work as a patron between 1943 and 1978, first for St Matthew’s Northampton, and then at Chichester Cathedral. Hussey was responsible for the most significant sequence of works of Art commissioned for British churches in the twentieth century including works by Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, John Piper and Marc Chagall.

My other Artlyst articles and interviews are:

C.O.B. - Solomon's Song.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

HeartEdge interview: Bishop Michael Curry and Dean Xolani Dlwati

When Bishop Michael Curry visited the Province of Southern Africa earlier in the year, Douglas Board and Tricia Sibbons recorded a conversation with him and Dean Xolani Dlwati, responding to four questions inspired by the HeartEdge framework. 

In the film Douglas introduces and names the framework (compassion, culture, commerce and congregation) as part of the interview. The interview is with the three standing beside the Sinethemba sculpture in St Mary’s Cathedral. 

HeartEdge is an international, ecumenical movement for renewal of the Church and St Mary the Virgin Cathedral in Johannesburg is a member of HeartEdge. More information about HeartEdge can be found at


Holy Cross Choir - Siyakudumisa.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Inclusive Church 2019 Lecture

The Annual Inclusive Church lecture was inaugurated in 2013, marking the 10th anniversary of the founding of Inclusive Church. Taking place each year in conjunction with the AGM it invites a leading theologian or activist to reflect and challenge us about inclusion.

The 2019 Inclusive Church Lecture took place on Tuesday 9th July 2019 at Southwark Cathedral. The lecturer was Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields and the talk was entitled 'Citizens of Heaven: Identity, Inclusion and the Church':

'I have a simple agenda tonight. I want to change the question we’re all asking. I say ‘we’ and ‘all’ because my sense is that those who advocate the inclusive church agenda and those who most vehemently oppose it are currently asking the same question, and the reason they’re are at odds is because they’re giving different answers. My counsel to those who are glad to bear the epithet ‘inclusive’ is not to shout their answer louder or longer than the opposition, or give examples of the pain and suffering the opposing answer has caused, or suggest that the arc of history bends towards their position, and thereby win the argument; it’s instead to ask a different question. A similar question – but a subtly different question. I believe if we get the question right, the answer and the argument will largely look after themselves.'

You can watch a video of Sam's talk here and a transcript of the talk is available here.


Antonio Vivaldi - La Follia.

Windows on the world (505)

London, 2019


Ben Harper - Power Of The Gospel.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Interview: Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker

ArtWay have recently posted in their Spotlight section my interview of Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker that was originally published by ArtLyst. Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker is editor-in-chief of ArtWay, a website which seeks to stimulate reflection on the role of images in church and open up the world of the visual arts to the Church.

In the interview, I discuss with Marleen the inspiration and vision for ArtWay, the legacy left by her father Hans Rookmaaker and her plans for new projects. Marleen intends ArtWay to showcase and open up what has been and is being written about art, whether popularly or scholarly, philosophically or theologically, meditatively or liturgically oriented. In this way, she hopes it will be a platform for reflection about art and to stimulate dialogue enabling the Christian world to become familiar with the quality art that is increasingly available:

'Christianity to me is about all dimensions of life. The world with everything in it is God’s creation, and Christ gave his life to redeem all of reality. This means that all of life is ‘Christian’ and may concern Christian artists, whether they portray the beauty of a bird in the sky or the outrage of a refugee having to live without the comfort of a place she can call her home. This broader view of the Christian life was at the basis of much Dutch 17th-century art – which had its roots in Calvinism – in which various genres besides biblical scenes gained prominence, such as portraits, landscapes and still life's, church interiors, domestic scenes and genre paintings.'

The interview includes Marleen's reflection on the writings of Hans Rookmaaker and so this interview joins two earlier interviews - with Jonathan A. Anderson and Alastair Gordon - which also include reflections on Rookmaaker's legacy.


Holmes Brothers - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Come as a child

Here is the reflection I shared in today's Eucharist at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

The poem called ‘Song of Childhood’ by Peter Handke which features in the film Wings of Desire captures, for me, something of the openness of childhood when the world lies open before us and we encounter it without cynicism or prior knowledge. The big questions of life are in front of us but we have yet found answers or the pretence that we can know all the answers.

In the poem the child has retained that openness to life and existence as she or he has grown but in our gospel reading (Matthew 11. 25-30) today we hear of people who have not. When Jesus speaks about the wise and the intelligent, he is speaking of those who think they already have knowledge of what God wants. They are those who cannot receive the new thing that God wants to give because they think they already know all there is to know. As a result, they are closed off to what God wants to share.

Jesus says that those able to receive are like children. They are not worldly wise or information wise and, as a result, they are open to what is new and what is revealed. This is how we need to be if we are to receive what God has revealed to us in Jesus.

Tom Wright says this: “Jesus had come to know his father the way a son does: not by studying books about him, but by living in his presence, listening for his voice, and learning from him as an apprentice does from a master, by watching and imitating. And he was now discovering that the wise and learned were getting nowhere, and that the ‘little people’ – the poor, the sinners, the tax collectors, ordinary folk – were discovering more of God, simply by following him, Jesus, than the learned specialists who declared that what he was doing didn’t fit with their complicated theories.”

Sister Corita Kent has described the way in which children look and learn:

“Ask [a] child to come from the front of the house to the back and closely observe her small journey. It will be full of pauses, circling, touching and picking up in order to smell, shake, taste, rub, and scrape. The child’s eyes won’t leave the ground, and every piece of paper, every scrap, every object along the path will be a new discovery.

It does not matter that his is all familiar territory – the same house, the same rug and chair. To the child, the journey of this particular day, with its special light and sound, has never been made before. So the child treats the situation with the open curiosity and attention that it deserves.

The child is quite right.”

Unless you come,
come as a child,
not grasping but trusting,
not arrogantly but humbly,
not resisting but accepting,
not feebly but vigorously,
not giving but receiving,
not self-centred but God-centred,
not teaching but feeding,
not gaining life but losing life,
not leaving but returning,
not closed, but open.

Unless you come,
come as a child,
you cannot enter
the kingdom of God.


Van Morrison - Song Of Being A Child.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Windows on the world (504)

London, 2019


WITHin (with God, in the world)

Within (with God, in the world)
Church of the Servant King, Dulverton Drive, Furzton, Milton Keynes, MK4 1NA

A day exploring a breadth of different approaches to spirituality which will:
  • Promote the Oxford Diocesan priority of deepening spirituality via #EveryDayFaith
  • Harness and promote the approach to mission of HeartEdge, an international ecumenical movement for renewal
  • Encourage confidence amongst God’s people, as we live out our faith in the world
A day for: clergy and lay; leadership or personal development; in Milton Keynes and beyond. Hosted by the Watling Valley Partnership and organised with the Diocese of Oxford and HeartEdge. A programme that runs through the day and into the evening with scope to come during the day or evening or throughout.

  • We are called to be a Christ-like church for the sake of God’s world
  • We are called to be disciples and ‘make a difference in the world’
  • We seek to ‘be with’ God, (alone and corporately), our neighbours (near and far), and creation
Presentations, workshops and worship including:
  • Sam Wells (Vicar, St Martin-in-the-Fields); St Martin’s Voices; TesTamenT; Tina Molyneux (Discipleship Enabler, Diocese of Oxford); Sharon Grenham-Thompson (Watling Valley Ecumenical Partnership); Ruth Maxey (Forest Church); Jonathan Evens (HeartEdge); Catherine Duce (HeartEdge), among others.
  • Being With; Great Sacred Music; Art Oasis; Personal Discipleship Plans; Contemplative Toolkit; Listening Groups; Faith in Work; ‘The Christ We Share’; Forest Church, among others.


Will Todd - God So Loved The World.

Srebrenica Memorial Week Erev Shabbat Service

It was a privilege to mark Remembering Srebrenica Memorial Week at West London Synagogue by lighting a memorial candle at the beginning of their special Srebrenica Memorial Week Erev Shabbat Service. 'Srebrenica Mother' Fudila Effendic was guest of honour, sharing about the unspeakable loss of her husband and son and her resolve not to harbour hate or revenge.

West London Synagogue aims to keep awareness alive, despite the lessons of the Shoah, of the threat of race hate and genocide. Over the past few years, they have actively and proudly participated in Srebrenica Memorial Week, honouring the memory of the 8,372 mainly men and boys who were murdered in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995, purely because they were Muslims. Unbelievably, this horror took place on European soil just 50 years after the end of World War ll and the cry of 'Never Again!'

We also saw 'tito's picnic' - an exhibition by Lejla Kevric, reflecting hope for a shared society - “This is a vision of optimism. It is an invitation to an idea. Thinking about the future. Ordinary people talking together.” 


Aida Čorbadžić and Elvir Solak.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Book Review - Church and Patronage in 20th Century Britain: Walter Hussey and the Arts

Oxford Academic Journals has just published my latest book review in The Journal of Theological Studies:

Church and Patronage in 20th Century Britain: Walter Hussey and the Arts. By Peter Webster.

Peter Webster is an historian based in London and Chichester, with interests in the history of Christianity in twentieth century Britain, particularly the relation of church, law and state, the religious arts, and evangelicalism.

"In this book Peter Webster reviews Hussey's work as a patron between 1943 and 1978, seeking to place Hussey in his theological, cultural and aesthetic context. As such, Hussey is a lens through which Webster views relationships between patrons and artists in the twentieth century and explores ways in which the Church of England met, resisted and negotiated with forces of cultural change in the arts and in the religious life of the nation."

My earlier book reviews for the Journal of Theological Studies are:

Malcolm Guite - Singing Bowl.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

HeartEdge conference - On earth as it is in heaven

‘How do we reach out with compassion to those on the edges of faith and life, and what do we learn from them when we get alongside them? What does our faith and our experience of life challenge us to explore and to share? How do we take our faith and put it into practice so that it might make a difference for good? HeartEdge asks all of these questions, and suggests, in context, some of the possible answers.’ The Very Reverend Dr Derek Browning, Minister, Morningside Parish Church, Edinburgh

This October HeartEdge welcomes US theologian Winnie Varghese, asset-based community worker Cormac Russell, and many other exciting contributors for a two-day conference 'On earth as it is in heaven' – a gathering of the HeartEdge community in Edinburgh (2 & 3 October 2019).

Revd Jonathan Evens, Associate Vicar HeartEdge, St Martin-in-the-Fields says, ‘We are thrilled that Winnie Varghese has accepted our invitation to speak at the 2019 HeartEdge conference. Her experience in and focus on issues of social justice and reconciliation is now gaining an international dimension through her role at Trinity Wall Street in relation to Global Initiatives. Church meeting world and what the Church can become are just some of the themes she has explored which are of real contemporary relevance in relation to our theme of ‘On earth as it is in heaven’.’

The programme also includes The Right Rev Colin Sinclair (Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland), The Most Reverend Mark Strange (The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church) and Dr Sara Parvis (Senior Lecturer in Patristics, University of Edinburgh) in conversation with Sheena McDonald on the theme of Renewing the Church.

This year Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, is delivering the Chalmers Lectures. Entitled ‘A Future that’s Bigger than the Past’, these lectures are concerned with the theology and methods of HeartEdge as a movement for renewal in the Church. The conference includes the opportunity to hear the final three lectures in the series; the first three in the series being held in September.

Revd Dr Sam Wells says, ‘I’m especially thrilled that the invitation to explore the theology and significance of HeartEdge has coincided with the second annual HeartEdge conference in Edinburgh. It feels like in the evenings we’ll be proposing the theory and during the days we’ll all be exploring the practice. What a wonderful model of church.’

The HeartEdge Conference is a practical, two-day intensive of ideas, theology and connecting. It includes workshops on enterprise and commerce, launching cultural projects, developing congregations and sustaining community response, plus time to make connections and find encouragements. This two-day intensive will pack in lots and prioritise practical input and resources.

Among others taking part are: Rosie Addis; David Bradwell; Derek Browning; ID Campbell; Jonathan Evens, Sally Hitchiner; Simon Jay; Jonny Kinross; Tania Kovats, Deborah Lewer; Suzanne Lofthus; Maxwell Reay; Scott Rennie; Fiona Smith; Peter Sutton; Bev Thomas; and Adrian Wiszniewski.

The conference venues are The Parish Church of St Cuthbert and St John's Church, with the Chalmers Lectures held at Greyfriars Kirk.

Register at


Arvo Pärt - Vater Unser.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Maciej Hoffman: Be Free For Art

Maciej Hoffman was born in Wroclaw, Poland. In his third year at the Theological Academy in Wroclaw, his craving for philosophy was no longer as powerful as the vocation to become an artist. In 1988 Hoffman enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts, having graduated with a dual diploma in sculpture and painting. Hoffman went on to pursue a career in advertising and marketing. In 2003 he began exploring web art and became passionate for it. 

Today Hoffman has returned to exhibiting his artwork. His existential and expressionist work is concerned with the trauma of all individuals and peoples who have suffered - and continue to suffer - worldwide. Hoffman ‘views his art as both a means of self-expression and a way of engaging in public discourse, depicting contrasts, emotions and powerful human experiences.’ He has said that the subjects which interest him are those ‘issues that puzzle us throughout the years, forming our way of looking at the world, changing us.’ Maciej is a Polish Jew. He has frequently organised and contributed to inter-faith exhibitions/events. For more, see

He says:

'Our creativity, instead of being used to create more freedom, is used to build a more perfect and "magnificent" system of control and manipulation.

The space for what is irrational, imperfect or disordered becomes increasingly narrow. The room for trials and mistakes, for searching and for research, for listening to others and observing what happens around is gone.

Being inquisitive, asking questions is no longer valued in the world of simple and ready-to-go manifestations. Freedom is leaving us, step by step.

What is free of supervision, beyond statistics and classification, is the only real margin of freedom we can exercise – that is creation, that is art.'

Maciej Hoffman paints huge expressionist canvases depicting scenes of trauma. His paintings depict the distress caused through conflict and he seeks to use his art to generate discussion among people of all faiths and none about the causes of conflict. Hoffman has said that the subjects which interest him are those "issues that puzzle us throughout the years, forming our way of looking at the world, changing us."

There is great freedom and improvisation in his gestural brushstrokes overlaid with flecks and drips of paint creating the sensation that the artist has almost physically attacked the canvas, yet concept and composition also clearly underpin his expressionism. The images which emerge from this maelstrom of paint, although often founded in the darkness of existential angst, also exhibit a dynamism and energy which moves towards freedom. 

Be Free for Art: Maciej Hoffman, 9th - 27th July 2019, Willesden Gallery.


Leonard Cohen - Amen.

Citizens of Heaven: Identity, Inclusion and the Church

Inclusive Church AGM and Annual Lecture, Tuesday 9 July 2019, 7pm, Southwark Cathedral

St Martin-in-the-Fields has worked in partnership with Inclusive Church since 1998. This year Sam Wells is giving the annual lecture - 'Citizens of Heaven: Identity, Inclusion and the Church'. All are welcome – you don't have to register but it really helps if you do. The AGM is very short, the annual lecture will be brilliant, and the refreshments as good as our own Cafe. Full details and access information can be found here.


Mavis Staples - Touch A Hand, Make A Friend.

Enrique Martínez Celaya: The Mariner’s Meadow

Enrique Martínez Celaya: The Mariner’s Meadow, 23 May – 13 July 2019, Blain|Southern London

The capacity of painting to create and sustain meaning is one of Enrique Martínez Celaya’s central concerns. This may be because Martínez Celaya is both an artist and also, formerly, a scientist.

As such he may well acknowledge Julius Colwyn’s recent assertion that art and science are ‘human efforts to comprehend and describe the world around us and our experience of it’. The one ‘searches for truth in subjective experience and the other in objective reality.’ Colwyn concludes that it is in the rift ‘between subjective experience and the objective reality where ‘art’ manifests.’[i]

Daniel Siedell has explored the reasons Martínez Celaya has given for ‘leaving his job as a top researcher at Coherent Medical and to begin selling his paintings in local parks’.[ii] What led him to this decision was the recognition ‘that my preoccupations, which revolved around messy and youthful questions of living, suffering, and the choices we make, would ultimately be better addressed in art.’ In other words, Siedell notes, Martínez Celaya came to believe that art, rather than science, could better serve ‘the larger purposes of understanding, self-awareness, and acceptance’. ‘It is in art’, he has said, ‘and not in religion or science, that I look for truth.’

Siedell suggests that for Martínez Celaya ‘each work is an effort to discern a stability and clarity that lies below the murkiness of experience—an order, or a structure, that he calls truth.’ Yet the order he seeks is ‘a whisper of the order of things that dismantles consciousness and suggests my place in the world.’ [iii]

As a result, ‘The impact of all paintings,’ Martínez Celaya writes, ‘exists in their uncomfortable relationship to the world.’[iv] The images in ‘The Mariner’s Meadow’ exist in an uncomfortable relationship with the sea; which is, at one and the same time, the fertile acreage in which the Mariner plies his trade and also relentless in its ability to surround and swamp all in its path.

Siedell notes a dialectical friction in Martínez Celaya’s work between the domestic and the epic, ‘the personal concerns of life played out against the backdrop of the impersonal universals of nature and time’. The stark, foreboding seascape of ‘The Generations’ Keeper’ is headed by the phrase ‘laugh at the ideals’. The darkest piece of the exhibition ‘The Returning Tale’ depicts a home circumscribed by the returning tide. The sea teaches us about our anonymity. It is ‘the end of all paths and the edge of all comings and goings.’ Our insignificance revealed in the face of nature's scale and relentless repetitions.

This dialectic of content is set within a further dialectic, that of presence and reference; ‘the presence of the painting as an artefact in the world—pigment smeared on a canvas—and its reference—the imagery or subject matter that invites memory and associations.’ The unpainted edges of his canvases indicate the limitations of painting and the existence of something beyond the image, even the image as ‘flashes from somewhere else, collective memories from a mysterious origin.’

‘The Prophet’ is an image which has undergone significant change in the making as Martínez Celaya sought a revelatory image. The edges of this painting are where traces of the earlier images are left, like lipstick on a collar. The final image sees a young girl posing with a dead shark recently washed up on the beach, one foot placed in awkward dominance on the stricken creature. ‘The Prophet’ reveals the unease of our unnatural attempts to dominate nature. ‘The Herald’ takes us deeper into our despoiling of nature by depicting an oil spill aflame; the title perhaps referencing a different maritime disaster, but one – The Herald of Free Enterprise - which named the imperative driving our dominating, despoiling actions.

By contrast with these images of our unthinking yet uneasy attempts to dominate the enduring chill of the ocean and its depths, in ‘The Name’ the sea is backdrop to the endurance of a carved wood statue depicting a prayerful angel and another depicting flowers. Here, the images endure as the sea endures; art and belief mirroring the unchanging nature of nature.

The sea is sometimes a mirror, at other times a window, and occasionally a letter, while the birds that fly in these canvases sing songs that are messages from our forgotten places. As a whisper of the order of things that dismantle consciousness and suggest our place in the world, art manifests itself in the equivalent of the sea’s swells, the space between subjective and objective reality. These images see Martínez Celaya participating in our human effort to comprehend and describe the world around us and our experience of it. As in his life decisions, he values the subjective truth of those glimpses into identity and meaning that art provides above and alongside the exacting measurement of the material that science delivers.

[ii] ‘On Martinez Celaya’ by Daniel A. Siedell in On Art and Mindfulness, published in 2015 in collaboration with Anderson Ranch Arts Center.
[iii] Quoted in “The Prophet” (2009), in Enrique Martínez Celaya, Collected Writings & Interviews 1990-2010 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010), p. 231-32.
[iv] Enrique Martínez Celaya, “On Painting” (2010), in Collected Writings & Interviews, p. 243.


Corinne Bailey Rae - The Sea.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Windows on the world (503)

London, 2019


Gloria Gaynor - Man Of Peace.

HeartEdge in Derby

Nearly 60 people from Nottingham and Derby attended the latest HeartEdge Introductory Day which was held at St Thomas' Church in Derby. 

Sam Wells spoke about going beyond the benefactor and steward in funding mission. A panel of representatives from Derby City of Sanctuary and local churches then responded thoughtfully to the challenges posed by Sam in his talk. 

Simon Cartwright, the minister at St Thomas', shared progress and future plans in re-opening this formerly closed church. The day ended with workshops on art, enterprise, liturgy and support for refugees using local examples of the 4 Cs.


The Harbour Lights - Five Senses.