An Artful Experience
Art can take many forms and can be produced with spiritual intent or not. However, the Lord speaks to us in many ways and whether the artists intention was spiritual God may speak to you through it.
Some struggle to understand the spiritual role of art. They approach famous works of art with vague intimidation or over-excitement, stirred by awareness of the work’s monetary value, not the work’s aesthetic beauty or radical message. I’ve always had an idea of what I like and what I don’t and when visiting art galleries or museums I’d walk up to a piece of art, make a momentary decision to like or not like and move on to the next. This changed for me in 2015.
The visual impacts the spiritual...
I was attending a curate conference in Berlin. We were there for a week and we’re given one day to explore the city on our own. Four of us decided to spend the day together and we formulated an itinerary of places to visit. It was going to be a busy day flitting from one tourist site to another and we started at the x gallery. In fact we we got no further than the gallery. We spent just over 4 hours very slowly walking the halls of art. In the halls of religious art we found ourselves discussing the subject, trying to interpret the artist’s intention and theologising their meaning.
On that day I began listening – to the story of the work encased in its visual presentation, historical setting, and the artist’s intent. I began questioning – the artist, the art, it’s spirituality and myself. I began learning – how to linger with the art for more than a few seconds and challenge my inclination to generalise whole collections unfamiliar to me. I began conversing – through time, culture, and faith. Conversing not only with my fellow curates but also with God. There were lots of silent moments, moments of thought, moments of listening and moments of spiritual insight.
I discovered that day that art is about making space – both physical and mental – for listening, searching, and expressing. Art gives us the space for attention, which looks quite a lot like prayer. When looking at art now I still know what I like and what I don’t, but I take more time to discover that and to make that spiritual journey.
If you look carefully at the picture below you will see a reflection of me taking a picture of a painting portraying the story of Philip baptising the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40). That day God stirred something new in me as I stood there in contemplation with George discussing the meaning within the painting and the story of the text.
Through this website I will try to share my views and experiences of Meeting God in the Everyday.
I am a wife, sister, friend and in the past I have been a nurse in the NHS, an Acupuncturist and since 2014 I've been an ordained minister in the Church of England. At the moment I am the vicar of four rural parishes in South Warwickshire.
Meeting with God Every Day
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I urge you to visit (repeatedly if you can) your local art museums and galleries. Once there, find something new; spend more time with fewer works; leave the labels until the very end; allow yourself to discover what it’s saying to you first before you discover the artists intent. Go with others and converse with one another; ask difficult questions; if your of a mind sketch, but in silence; linger as long as you are able with a work you find boring, irksome, or downright ugly – and do the same with a work you love. Few spaces can match the power of art museums, those revered storehouses of the sacred.
However, if you’re unable to visit an art gallery it’s often possible to look up what art they have and find copies of it on the internet. It’s not quite the same as seeing the original, it has a different feel but I find this can still be a valuable experience and exercise. The classical pictures you see here were taken on that memorable day in Berlin. They are all religious art but please don't think that religious art is the only art that can have a spiritual impact. All art has that ability so experiment just walk around a gallery and just see what moves you and listen to how the Lord is speaking to you. You may be surprised!
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An Artful Experience
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