Art Ministry at St John's
Art at St John’s is here as a tool to help us see the gospel afresh; to remind, challenge, inspire or encourage us to see the world, for example, not as opaque to God's presence but charged with it. For twenty years we have used the creative potential, in congregation and community, to enable a an alternate, perhaps unfamiliar contemplation of God.
You can also visit an archive of the first arts events held at St John's over 10 years ago.
In Spring 2024, the centre of the church will be filled with over eighty raw unstretched calico hangings, made by Hartford community. The installation embraces a sensory Eden-like experience, mirroring nature's diverse beauty and fallibility, accompanied by an original, specifically commissioned soundscape. It is an exhibition curated by Dee Rollinson, Judi and Sophie Rigby.
"Although flowers fade and die, the Word of God is steadfast and gives hope to all."
Also, on Tuesday 5th March there will be a special evening round table with curator Dee Rollinson, curator and CREATED catalogue editor Sophie Rigby, and vicar Mike Smith at 7.00 pm in St John’s Church, Hartford. All welcome.
Please also read the press release for CREATED.
CREATED: 01.03.24 – 07.03.24
Open daily, free admission 2.00–7.00pm
'Praise Be’ is an installation of wire mesh hands that depicts the church family at St John’s Hartford as a body of believers in a collective act of praise.
Members of our church family were invited to be involved and a template was taken of each person’s individual hand. Subsequently, over 200 hands were modelled in total.
Over 200 hands were modelled in total. Anonymity was key in making the work as while we acknowledge that God knows each of us intimately, the truth is we are all equal in His sight - He loves us all the same, we are His children.
To depict key concepts a wire mesh that is strong, but looks delicate and fragile, was used. The concept is threefold: firstly, a nod to fragility. The fragility of life and how this can change in the blink of an eye. At the same time the wire represents great strength, a strength that can be found in having a faith in Jesus. And finally, the piece depicts a conceptual reference to fellowship, collective praise and belonging.
The use of the skylight in the installation is considered a symbolic porthole to God, heaven, and eternity, and this is where our Praise is directed. This skylight links the new installation to the exhibition paintings “Light of the World” (displayed on the stairwell), further consolidating that Jesus is the light to the world.
While acknowledging the supremacy of the biblical word of God, the visual arts, by fixing our sight on concrete objects, invite us to look at the world afresh, to see it as it is, or perhaps as it might, or will be.
The wire mesh installation, exhibition paintings and 10ft wooden cross outside the Church Centre are not simply things to decorate our space, although naturally we hope they do, they are there for our parishioners and non-parishioners alike – for everyone to contemplate, through the medium of art, the glory of God.
Art at St John’s is here as a tool to help us see the gospel afresh, to remind, challenge, inspire or encourages us to see the world, for example, not as opaque to God's presence but charged with it. My Prayer is that these artworks will facilitate this for all who spend time with them.
Light of the World
Dee Rollinson's “Light of The World” paintings are on permanent display in the foyer of St John’s Church Centre.
Each of the paintings is shown and described below.
'And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die"' Genesis 2:16-17
Paradise Lost is my depiction of the Fall. Here, I tried to imagine what it must have felt like to be Adam or Eve; to know that I had a perfect and holy existence, and then, through my own defiance lost absolutely everything. I would feel totally and utterly bereft.
Paradise Lost is intentionally slightly discordant with the rest of The Light of the World paintings. This was a conscious decision I took to depict loss, decay, culpability and hopelessness. The rest of the paintings are an embodiment of hope and thus take on a different feel in the narrative.
Son of Man
'She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins' Matthew 1:18-24
My intention in Son of Man was, without doubt, to point to the birth of Christ. However, I also wanted to draw attention to Joseph, wanted to invite the viewer to consider what a wonderful human being this man must have been and how obedient and trusting he was to God.
O So Humble
'Jesus knew that the hour had comew for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end' John 13:1-5
O So Humble relates to Jesus' earthly ministry. My main challenge was to try and depict this in one image. The focus could have taken many forms, some, quite dramatic.
At first the choices seemed a difficult, if not impossible task but finally, I settled on a most wonderful aspect of His nature; His humbleness.
'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him' John 3:16-17
Inspiration for Why? finally from Dali's painting Christ of St John of the Cross. My aesthetic aspirations however, differed from those of Dali. In the first instance, it was essential that my image of Christ crucified emerged out of an ethereal atmosphere, to break through and try to depict past to present. Like Dali, I wanted to portray Christ as the beautiful God that he is. I also wanted to portray Christ as the human being that he was, to portray the compassion of a tortured and murdered man, to create an image where it felt like Christ was coming into the space, not hovering above it, to depict the fact that the crucifixion is just as relevant today and not some historic fairy story.
What More Can I Say
'Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father"' John 20:16-17
In this picture I consider the Resurrection of Christ. I tried to imagine what Mary must have felt like. Having recently witnessed and experienced the agony of the Christ she loved being crucified and buried, then to hear the word, "Mary". I wanted to capture the look I imagined would be on her face as Jesus called her name; the fleeting 'look between a look', the look between astonishment and joyous rapture as she uttered the single word, "Rabboni".
Wake Up, O Sleeper
'But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”' Ephesians 5:13-14
'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light' Matthew 11:28-30
Wake Up, O Sleeper is a response to the often-held belief that the Bible is a fairy story, something of old, now outdated and irrelevant but useful to tell stories to children at Easter and Christmas; part of the feel-good factor. I wanted to respond to this and invite the viewer to reconsider the validity of scripture.
'The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them' Isaiah 11:6
'And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."' Matthew 18:3
'Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory' Romans 8:17
The Homecoming is about heaven, about the glory of what awaits. Here, I have tried to depict Christ's open invitation to everyone as the child looks out into the audience and says, "Are you coming?"