Blessed are the cracked.

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On day 2 of the ‘Art, Faith and Mission’ intensive lead by Rev Ric Stott, we were asked to take some materials out into the environment and let that inspire us to create something. The whole idea was to let the environment say something to us that only that place could.

Processed with VSCOAs I was walking down the road I stopped by this telephone box. The first thing that I noticed was that the window pane was smashed. The second thing that I noticed was the sticker on the back wall that said ‘Call The Sun’.  I’m not sure what quite stuck me about this whole thing, but it was almost as if the person had smashed the window in order to reveal what was in the back. The wordplay between Sun and Son also struck me. Shouldn’t the sticker read something like ‘Call your son’. The Sun of course could mean the newspaper, but it’s difficult to tell. Inside the box there was rubbish and leaves in a big puddle. The poor telephone box felt forgotten and unloved.

My first idea was to have something over this broken pane with a ‘peep window’ that would let you look inside, so you could see the sticker. I realised only then that I forgot to take any tape with me, so that wouldn’t really be possible. Processed with VSCOI still decided to take the middle out of the paper, then I held it against the back wall of the telephone box and just started to draw on it.

It wanted it to feel like it went on further, as if the back of the telephone box was also broken. I did the rays coming out from the words and then did the darker frame which was supposed to represent another thing that had been broken. As I started highlighting the ‘glass’ in white I thought of the sudo-beatitude ‘Blessed are the cracked, for they let in light.’  Thats what the broken window felt like. It felt like it was drawing you into see what was on the back wall. It felt like it was broken in order so that the light would shine through it and illuminate the words.

Thinking about these words, I knew that I wanted them represented in some way.Processed with VSCO I am constantly watercoloring scripture or famous quotes, but without watercolours I was a bit lost. My original idea was to write the words on the already existing paper I was working on. I quickly dismissed this idea because I didn’t want to ruin it. (This probably says something about me.) So I wrote it on a bit of paper. Luckily by this point I had found some small sticky notes, that I used to stick the paper to the wall. But stepping back and looking at it, it didn’t seem quite right.  The words overshadowed the image I had created. I liked the way it all drew you in, but the quote detracted from the image which was what I wanted the focus to be on.  Also it frustrated me that I couldn’t do my best calligraphy with mediums I am completely unfamiliar with.

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So I ended up rewriting it several times before I was happy. I realised I was putting too much effort in just trying to make the work look pretty. The whole point was to make the words speak for themselves. So I decided to put the words on the front of the telephone box so that it drew people in. The whole process of doing art inside a telephone box was also interesting. In a way it gave me a protective little box to work in without noticing how many cars were going past. (Even if it was slightly waterlogged, and I did drop my chalks/charcoal into the water. )

Thinking about it theologically I think that for anyone walking by they might not think about God. Although the words might conjure up some image of the sermon on the mount for people who know it. I think anyone can take from it what they want. That is the point of art I think. At least I think thats what the point of the exercise was. When we put art into the world, whether secular or spiritual it will mean different things depending on who sees it.

Reflecting on it now I still am not sure what that whole process meant. All I know is that I followed whatever I felt the Spirit was urging me to do.This was much outside my normal artist comfort zone. For one I normally keep all my art for myself, and very rarely let people see it. So to leave this in this space felt weird, yet right to me.

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Much of the credit I owe to Rev Ric Stott. Partly for the ‘task’ of going out there and creating something and partly for giving me the supplies which let me do it.

 

Peace and Joy.

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Newness.

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I’ve always loved the balance between light and dark during a Sunset. There’s something so enchanting about all the colour that lies behind the silhouetted figures. Its also the promise of something new that I think is so reassuring. The sun will set and there will always be a new day.

As we’ve moved into a new calendar year, we have also moved into a new term at Westcott. Everything feels very settled now, and I’m glad to be back at college with my fellow ordinands. It seems that everyone has had a good restful break, and I’ve felt the immediate benefit of having the Chapel back in the normal routine.

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I arrived back in college a week before term. I had all sorts of placmenty things to do.  I’m still on ‘attachment’ at Little St Marys, which has been such a blessing.  Somehow I’ve managed to avoid serving during my first term on attachment, so this Sunday I found myself serving at both services.

I sat in awe of this years crib. (The photo doesn’t do it justice.) Well crafted, with it being situated infront of the Tabernacle. It spoke so much to me about the Incarnation. And these beautiful gold threads just hanging over the manger as if to give hints of how God’s presence would have hung in the air. It was just beautiful. As Advent finished and we’ve moved into Christmastide (?), its really got me thinking about the symbols and art we use. Especially because I did Advent Illustrated, its just made me think about my art and how that feeds me spiritually.

Starting a new journal (Which I did on the first) always ‘sets me back’ a little. I begin that whole process of allowing myself to use the new book. Processed with VSCO with f2 presetDespite this, I am really enjoying the new challenge I set myself of writing down something I am thankful for everyday. I had a really good time with my boardgames friends over the weekend, and I think I can sometimes take those things for granted. Sometimes we need to be reminded of what a blessing these things are. By being away from stuff, we learn to appreciate it all over again. Like starting again with my journal, it’s like a new chance to start over and appreciate the gifts it is giving me. This too is also true of the incarnation, each year we get to receive that gift all over again.

This doesn’t mean that we should just allow ourselves to fail just because we know we are covered by grace. Like looking after flowers, we get as much out of it as we put in. If we tenderly look after our relationship with God then we will be rewarded with the beauty of God springing up in our lives.

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by Rev Ally Barrett

Today was the feast of the Epiphany, were the Magi meet the incarnate God for the first time. I cant even imagine what it would have been like to come face to face with God in the form of a baby. It still amazes me that God came into the world as something so innocent and pure, and even those Magi with all of their wealth realised that meant nothing.

After mass this evening, where the Epiphany chalk was blessed, we gathered as ‘staircasemates’ and did the blessing together. It was dark so we couldn’t really see- someone got a torch, and none of us really knew what we were doing. It just felt like such a holy moment. There was laughter as we struggled to work out what needed to be written first, but God was there. He was there in the rededication of our ‘home’ and in each one of us as we have seen the face of God in a manager.

This season is all about ‘refinding’ our blessings, or even finding them for the first time. I hope that whatever those blessings are that we remain thankful and remembering the source of all of them. God who came to us as a babe, who even the Magi adored.

With prayers, peace and joy this Epiphany.