Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Body, art & theology

Last week I went to a 'lecture' given by Rod Pattenden, who was artist in residence for the week at the Effective Living Centre. Rod is a UCA minister and artist, and was leading workshops and studio time in art, spirituality and movement. If I hadn't been finishing off my last assignments, I'd have gone to more. However, I did manage to fit the lecture in, having had a conversation with Rod and others about art and spirituality over lunch last year. 

These things stay with me of the things Rod talked about last Wednesday. 

Artists reflect for us centre and edge, the places where we find stillness and discomfort. He spoke of spirituality as spanning the long gap between edge and centre - I have a picture of movement between. Movement being important, as is engaging with our centre, stillness and being challenged and unsettled by the world. 
We saw works of two artists representing the Sacred stillness and the disturbing images of war. Viewing them both we appreciate the need for both kinds of art. God is in them both, invites us to engage with both, to be informed about ourselves and our world, not neglecting one or the other. 
Artists are so very important in helping us appreciate the wholeness of our being. 

A test for compassion and grace is how we live with and accept the tension between centre and edge and the people in those places. How true. 

Rod shared with us his experience of being both curate and curator during a six month period at Paddington St UCA in Sydney. They received funding to invite 6 artists to create installations in the church space, into which the wider community was invited and around which the church community gathered for worship. The church as studio allows for experimenting and creating, so important in our continued discovery of the Holy in our lives, our world. As curate and curator, Rod was carer of souls and carer of art/artists. How I would love that dual role ... 

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