Art at St John’s
Over recent years, the visual arts have found a natural home at St John’s, both in the building and in our shared spiritual life. Art can be a prompt to prayer, and can shed new light on our theological understanding. In Advent 2019 we curated an exhibition entitled, ‘What are you expecting?’, of three works: ‘Refugee Mother and Child,’ known as ‘Our Lady of Calais’, painted in situ at St Paul’s Cathedral in 2015, by street artist Joy Gillard, also known as CBloxx. ‘Southwark Trinity – After Rublev’ by Meg Wroe, and commissioned by the Diocese of Southwark, which depicts members of the Southwark community, and ‘Blessed are the Poor’ by ID Campbell, artist-in-residence at St George’s Tron, Glasgow. The exhibition was accompanied by a programme of talks, events and workshops for children.
In Advent 2020, we commissioned a contemporary icon of the Virgin and Child, an outdoor video installation by artist Sara Mark and filmmaker Julian Civiero, with All Churches Trust funding. A short film is here. A member of the community said: “I can see that art really helps us to reflect on our faith and it is wonderful to see the church lit up and projecting that image of hope in these dark times. I stood in front of the image thinking of how much we had missed out on this year but also of what is to come if we can just hold on to hope.”
Another arts-based initiative was an Advent Art Study pilot course put together by Prof Ben Quash and Dr Chloë Reddaway Research Fellow, Arts and the Sacred, both at King’s College London, using the online resource, the Visual Commentary on Scripture. With sixteen participants from two churches, it was a fresh and creative way to explore the themes of Advent. We look forward to further opportunities to engage with art and artists at St John’s.