In June this year the Methodist art collection came to Leicester City. It was displayed in the Cathedral Church of Saint Martin, where Richard III is now buried. I was asked by the Methodist Church if I would lead an Art Retreat at St Andrew’s Church. There were eight artworks on display including those by Francis Hoyland, Phillip Le Bas, John Reilly, Jyoti Sahi and Francis Newton Souza. The retreat gave participants the opportunity to view and discuss these paintings with me and then I gave a talk about my work before we all spent some time making a piece of artwork. (See the images below)
The first thing that struck me about the exhibition was its location. As a Christian I felt a stronger connection to the artwork in this Church. At the start of the day I encouraged everyone to consider this. We often see paintings in a more sterile space, with white walls, in an environment removed from the world. They are preserved and can feel artificial. In a place of worship where people bring their prayers, emotions, troubles and joy an artwork takes on a deeper meaning. Paintings ask us many questions which can change according to our different perspective at different times. We react in new ways and see new things in pictures different times, as you do when reading a book for the second or third time. The paintings in St Andrew’s offer colour, texture, expression, emotion, and worship in a place that is all about the human condition, meeting with God and each other.
During my talk I introduced my ‘word art’ and brought along my painting called ‘Baptism’ which is my testimony following my Baptism in 2013. You can read more about this here. This shows a cross on a lake at my home town in Irthlingborough and is made using collage words from prayers. The delegates were then given a chance to contemplate the day and make a cross of their own. See the results below....
“The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.” Francis A. Schaeffer, Art and The Bible
This was some of feedback people gave of our day. Thanks everyone!
A good day. The “therapy” of creating, learning about and sharing other people’s art
Use of words to create art
That I can be creative given the right medium
To make time to be creative
That a simple process can be used to deeply focus
The importance of allowing time and space to reflect and how I can use art within that
Peace and patience
How I could use this day to move me on with worship leader training
The Nene Valley stretches from West Northamptonshire all the way through Peterborough and has the Nene river flowing through it. The landscape is surrounded by lush farmland and old villages with hidden footpaths connecting them together. I have always used this landscape as the basis for my artwork showing the wildlife and hills of my home.
My artwork frequently uses a range of mixed media techniques that have also incorporated words. In recent years this has become more important and now collage is a major part of my work which often uses words poetry. The lines of various poems have been woven into my imagery - segments of which can be read.
The wide range of habitats such as wildflower meadows, wetlands, marshes, woodlands and wet grasslands are full of a diverse range of animals and birds. These offer endless inspiration for my artwork on a daily basis as I live right on the edge of a stunning nature reserve near the towns of Higham Ferrers, Irthlingborough and Rushden.