Monday, 30 April 2012

Faith & Image 2012-2013 Programme

Here is the proposed 'Faith and Image' programme of evening presentations (at St Mary's Woodford) and weekend visits to galleries, churches or historic places. All are welcome to these events. An entrance fee of £4.00 is charged for evening talks, which includes refreshments. Details from Mark Lewis 020 8504 5840 or Jane Cooper 020 8504 1272.

Tuesday May 8th / Saturday visit to be arranged, at the time of Evensong
"The Re-building of Coventry Cathedral after the war"
A reflection on the power of art, architecture and poetry to create healing and forgiveness in the context of the bombing devastation of Coventry

Saturday June 30th Burghclere Chapel: The paintings of Stanley Spencer"
Lectures, and a discussion of Spencer's work during a visit to the Chapel

Saturday July 21st "Art Trail" visits, with lectures and guided tour of art work at St Edmunds Chingford, St Barnabas Walthamstow and St Andrews Leytonstone (with excellent café!)

Thursday September 20/Saturday 22 September visit to Chichester Cathedral
"The Art and Architecture of Chichester Cathedral"

Tuesday October 16th "Roger Wagner: Religious poet and illustrator"
Author and illustrator of "The Oxford Book of Psalms" and "The Fire Sonnets"

Wednesday November 7/ Saturday November 10th Visit to the Imperial War Museum
"Poets and Artists of the Wars"

Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Visitor and Reaching Beyond

The Visitor, by Smith and Moore, is a small, sturdy sculpture which draws its inspiration from the ancient Jewish story of the Burning Bush. This tells of a trigger moment when a device (the Burning Bush – see Exodus chapter 3, verse 2) led to liberation from slavery. This device, The Visitor, seeks to stimulate people to reach beyond existing expectations, boundaries and relationships.

Some people find contemporary art remote. The Visitor was made to be touched, handled, moved around and photographed. It is not exactly a flame, a leaf, or an eye. That is the point; what you see or think or feel is what The Visitor is for you.

From early 2012 The Visitor has been on an uncharted journey via churches and other organisations through five London boroughs (Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest)  with photographs, videos, poems or notes of what happens being posted at and due to be used in the Reaching Beyond exhibition along with the Visitor, if it survives the journey!

The Reaching Beyond exhibition at Bow Road Methodist Church (2 Merchant Street, London E3 4LY) will include the work of about twenty artists, with works in various forms including paintings, icons, sculptures, mosaics, cartoons and fabrics. The works will be augmented week-by-week with the winning works of the young people’s art competitions and the poetry competitions. Admission free. Normal opening hours 12 noon to 6.00 pm Monday to Saturday. 23 July to 1 September 2012.

Reaching Beyond is coordinated by Colloquy, an art and theology project which is part of the Methodist Church. The group has an inclusive remit, and welcome involvement from people of all faiths and none. We are very pleased to be able to provide information about this exciting project as a result of recent contact with Colloquy.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Colin Burns - Debut Album ‘Emerald&Gold’

Colin Burns’ debut album Emerald&Gold will be available in May. Its 14 tracks comprise 5 instrumental acoustic guitar pieces, 7 songs and 2 performance poetry pieces by Peter Nevland (, backed by Colin on guitar. Guitar parts & songs written and performed by Colin. An 8 page booklet is enclosed containing Colin’s artwork and lyrics. Recorded and produced in Sheffield by Andy Baker (
Cost of CD £10 (add £2.50 p&p UK, £3 Europe, £4 ROW). It will also be available on digital download; more information to follow. To order please contact Colin at Arts Centre Group, c/o Paintings In Hospitals, 51 Southwark Street, London SE1 1RU. Tel: 020 7407 1881 or 0845 458 1881. Email:
Colin will be performing at the commission4mission Run With The Fire exhibition launch, Monday 21st May, Strand Gallery, 32 Robert Adam Street, London, WC2N 6BP and June 9th at ‘Fun In the Park’, Redbridge, Essex.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Newsletter No. 12 – April 2012

Completed commission: Holy water stoup

The latest completed commission undertaken by commission4mission is a holy water stoup designed by Mark Lewis for St Margaret of Antioch Ilford. The holy water stoup, which is made from oiled oak and polished brass, was dedicated by parish priest Fr. Stephen Pugh on Sunday 25th March 2012 in memory of Mr Ron Smith. Mr Smith's family attended the service, as did Mark Lewis. The engraved inscription on the stoup reads as, ‘We praise you O God.’

Pentecost Festival: Run With The Fire exhibition

Our next exhibition will be at the Pentecost Festival in which the Run with the Fire digital exhibition will be shown alongside original artworks from commission4mission artists and invited guest artists. The Run with the Fire exhibition will take place at the Strand Gallery (32 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6BP) from 22nd - 27th May, 11.00am - 6.00pm.

Including an eclectic mix of styles and media, this will be a stimulating and exciting show exploring the broad theme of running life's race with passion and spirit. Featured artists include Harvey Bradley, Colin Burns, Christopher Clack, Elizabeth Duncan Meyer, Robert Enoch, Jonathan Evens, Christine Garwood, Jim Insole, Ken James, Miriam Kendrick, Mark Lewis, Glenn Lowcock, Henry Shelton, Sergiy Shkanov, Joy Rousell Stone, Esther Tidy, Mike Thomas, Rachel Watson and Peter Webb.

A Launch Night on Monday 21st May, 6.00 - 8.00pm, will provide the first opportunity to see the exhibition and will also include music and poetry exploring the exhibition theme. Those performing include singer-songwriter and poet Malcolm Guite, artist-musician Colin Burns, artist-poet Jonathan Evens, musician-poet Steve Scott and performance poet Tamsin Kendrick. Refreshments will be available. Cost - £2.00, pay on the door.

On Saturday 26
th May there will be an additional programme of art talks and painting demonstrations:

  • Painting demonstration – Harvey Bradley, ongoing throughout the day. See Harvey work on a painting and discuss his approach with him.
  • The Spiritual Image in Modern Art - Mark Lewis, 11.30am. A broad overview of the spiritual impulse in the art forms of the modern world and their potential to turn our minds to higher things.
  • Run with the Fire – Steve Scott, 12.30pm. A talk about the ‘Run with the Fire’ project and DVD.
  • Stanley Spencer – A Visionary of our Time – Mark Lewis, 2.00pm. A talk which examines the life and work of one of Britain’s most renowned and eccentric 20
  • th Century painters. The main themes include Spencer’s time as a war artist, and his extraordinary paintings which envision the Christian Gospels played out by the people in his beloved home town of Cookham.
  • Praying with our eyes open – Glenn Lowcock, 3.00pm. A talk on using images as an aid to prayer.
  • Emotional Tourist – Steve Scott, 4.00pm. What I am learning about art, life, spirituality, Trinity, and relational aesthetics from my travels in Bali and elsewhere.
  • Christian influences on modern & contemporary art – Jonathan Evens, 5.00pm. A broad overview of modern and contemporary art and artists which engage with Christianity.
See,, and for more information.

Copies of the Run with the Fire DVD can be purchased via or at the exhibition. A preview of the Run with the Fire digital exhibition can be seen at, while for up-to-date news of the project see

Member profile: Valerie Dean

Valerie Dean works in acrylics and her technique is usually to put materials and colours on canvas or board, to see what emerges. It is a dialogue between the artist and her materials. Because of her background, this often consists of figures around a religious theme. They just appear! Very often, people seem to want to appear in her paintings, a little like the pictures in the fire that she used to see in her childhood. At other times, she finds that buildings and places she knows inspire her.

Friday, 13 April 2012

New portrait by Henry Shelton

A portrait by Henry Shelton of Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Patron of the National Kidney Federation (NKF), was presented to the NKF last week and will be displayed at their Head Office in Worksop.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Pentecost Festival event listing

The Run with the Fire exhibition and launch night are now listed on the events section of the Pentecost Festival website. Click here to find our entry and other exciting events which are part of the Festival.
Pentecost Festival is a Christian led festival based in London. It is co-ordinated by registered charity, Share Jesus International (SJI) in partnership with Christian Aid and various churches and Christian organisations across the UK.

Pentecost Festival is the largest Christian led festival in London and will be running from the 18th-27th May 2012 across central London venues. It attracts thousands of people and showcases what the Church in the UK is all about.

Previous highlights of Pentecost Festival have included; a BBC1 live Pentecost service broadcast at All Saints church Peckham viewed by over a million, a live music stage in Leicester Square for three consecutive years and 16,000 people attending an evening of worship in the O2 arena hosted by Jesus House church, Holy Trinity Brompton Church and Hillsong Church.

'Condemned': Lent/Easter Series - Week 7

commission4mission has created a Lenten and Easter journey for 2012 using images by our artists combined with passages from Isaiah 53. Throughout Lent and for the first two weeks of Easter, we will post images and words from 'Condemned' here on a weekly basis.

Jim Insole lives in Neath, South Wales. He became a committed (R.C.) Christian in 1966 and soon became aware of a facility to represent devotional religious and philosophical ideas graphically. He has been engaged in religious art, much of it ceramic, since 1975. He studied art and pottery during the '80's, setting up a small, basic pottery workshop in the early '90's. He graduated in theology in 2005 from Lampeter College (University of Wales), with an emphasis on scriptural studies (with Greek and Hebrew), and Early Church History. He retains an abiding interest in cosmology and philosophy. Since 2005 he has resumed potting and painting. At root, his work seeks to reconcile traditional (but not fundamentalist!) doctrine with current perceptions of the cosmos and history, anthropology etc. Even more importantly it seeks a peace, a shalom between what is believed, what is intellectually perceived and what is devotionally, existentially and emotionally felt.
Other artists contributing images to the series are Nadiya Pavliv Tokarska, Mark Lewis, Robert Enoch, Christopher Clack, Rosalind Hore and Peter Webb. 'Condemned' has been compiled by Helen Gheorghiu Gould.

In addition to the weekly posts, 'Condemed' is also available as either a powerpoint or pdf file on request from Jonathan Evens at

We are grateful to ArtServe for their coverage of this initiative.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Clorinda Goodman and London Pride

Clorinda Goodman's Eden (Ancilla Domini) was recently exhibited in London Pride, a four day festival and exhibition held in the London Borough of Redbridge celebrating art & design in London over the last six decades, as part of the visit by HM Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh to the borough. Major galleries, museums, colleges and universities exhibited works of art and iconic design during this unique event, including the Tate and Saatchi galleries.

Here is an article Clorinda has written based on the incident depicted in this work:

EDEN – what’s in a name?

The stone carving I made of Eden, or rather, of a crucial event that took place there, was completed in Spring 2010. At first the name seemed so obvious that I did not give it a second thought. It shows the moment that Eve picked the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. And instead of rebuking her for disobedience, Adam is holding up his hand for a piece of it to taste. Somehow, one feels instinctively that this would have been more likely. After all they thought they were alone in the garden, and nobody could see, or would know.

My initial view of the matter was that it had been very unfair of Adam to blame Eve later, when the Lord God found out what they had done. So my carving was intended as a slightly feminist critique of Adam’s behaviour. As usual, the woman gets the blame for the man’s problems. I only vaguely recalled some words from Genesis: ‘The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat’ (ch.3.v.12). When challenged by God, Eve’s excuse is ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat’. So the question arose as to whether Eve knew of the ban on eating from this particular tree? That was not something that sprang readily to mind.

After a sermon on Genesis, I finally had to examine my bible and look more closely at the sequence of events. Was Eve present when God told Adam, or did Adam pass the message on later? So was Eve truly an innocent party? The place where God forbids Adam to eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge is in chapter 2.vv.16 and 17. But it is only in the following verse, v.18, that God decides that Adam needs a companion in the garden, and in v.21 creates her from a rib taken from Adam’s side as he lies in a deep sleep. Clearly Eve did not even exist at the time of this prohibition.

Looking back at the confession to the Lord God, Eve blamed the serpent. So I went further back to ch.3.v.1 which describes the serpent as ‘more subtil’ than any beast the field, and recounts its conversation with Eve. When the serpent encourages her to eat, she explains that it is forbidden by the Lord God (v.3). So this lets poor old Adam off the hook! Before she picked the fruit, Eve knew indeed that it was forbidden.  

Adam and Eve both experience a sudden unexpected consequence of their actions in ch.3.v.7 ‘And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons’. The meeting with God follows immediately, when he punishes them by condemning the woman to the pains of childbirth and Adam to a life of hard labour. The serpent simply receives a general curse.

So what is this chapter telling us? What underlying or symbolic meaning can we extract from it? Why did they become ashamed of being naked and sew themselves aprons - as opposed to a coat or any other garment? The most obvious answer is that this is about the awakening of shame, self consciousness and sexual maturity. Or perhaps, in Freudian terms, it portrays the journey from id to ego and super ego.

Although earlier (ch.1.v.27) Genesis told us that God had created man in his own image, ‘male and female created he them’, v.28 finds God commanding them to ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it and have dominion over …the fish, the fowl and every living thing’. This is well before God decided to create a companion for Adam in the garden in ch.2.v.18.

So the writer of Genesis perceived a conundrum. How could Adam and Eve be fruitful and multiply without the means to do so? Remaining in a state of blissful innocence simply would not do. Even when Adam welcomes Eve as his companion at the end of ch.2, and says she is ‘flesh of his flesh’, and that man shall leave his parents and cleave to his wife and become one flesh with her, v.25 reminds us that they were still naked and not ashamed. So they lacked self consciousness, and sexual desire until the serpent intervenes – as perhaps another powerful sexual symbol. If the serpent had not beguiled her, Eve would not have eaten the fruit, whether it was an apple or a pomegranate as some think. Had she not offered it to Adam, they would have remained in that delightful, carefree state of innocence that we see in small children.  So although it was disobedience, both the serpent and Eve were enabling God’s commandment to be fruitful to be fulfilled, but in a slightly different way than any of them appreciated.  

We are used to seeing the Virgin Mary referred to as ‘Ancilla Domini’, the handmaid of the Lord, at the Annunciation, when she agrees to bear the Son of God to be the Redeemer of the World. Perhaps it is time to reconsider Eve’s role, for without her curiosity, willingness to listen to persuasive argument and disobedience, human beings would have remained trapped in a sterile Paradise. Was Eve indeed the first Ancilla Domini? There is less to condemn in Adam, and more to thank Eve for than I first thought. So what about the role of the serpent? And finally, should I re-name my carving in Eve’s honour?

Sunday, 1 April 2012

'Mark of the Cross' update

This weekend ArtWay have circulated information about 'Mark of the Cross' to those on their mailing list. Look out too for an extract and image from 'Mark of the Cross' as their Ascension meditation following Ascension Day.

Jonathan Evens will be using the 'Mark of the Cross' meditations and images in the three hour devotion at St Margaret's Barking from 12 noon on Good Friday.

Mark of the Cross is a book of 20 poetic meditations on Christ’s journey to the cross and reactions to his resurrection and ascension. These meditations focus on the mark of the cross in his life and body and were originally written as part of a community arts project in Hertford. They are complemented by a set of semi-abstract watercolours of the Stations of the Cross and the Resurrection created by Henry Shelton.

'Mark of the Cross' is available via twelve baskets as a pdf book, a powerpoint presentation and as individual images. They are ideal for use within Lent, Passiontide, Holy Week and Easter services. The PowerPoint would work well with background music played whilst the viewers meditate on the imagery and words.

In a similar vein see the website of St Pauls Goodmayes for images from Henry Shelton's Stations of the Crown of Thorns, a c4m commission for the church, together with meditations by parish priest Fr. Benjamin Rutt-Field.