For well over ten years I have been the artist in residence at an event called Spring Harvest. It is a Christian conference/festival held at a couple of Butlins sites. This year I was asked to go to Skegness.
I am often reluctant to make too much of this event as I have concerns about the assumptions that might be made about me and my my thinking etc as it fairly and squarely nails my Christian credentials to some kind of post. Plenty of wrong assumptions have been made about my thoughts on evolution, sexuality, people of other faiths etc once it is known that I am a Christian. However this year after a years break I was back at the event and it’s been good to be here and I have wanted to share that. Conscious that any post I make to social media could be seen by my MA tutors and friends I was keen to make sure that the work was at the right level and standard. There is a lot of art out there in the Christian context that can be naff and un-challenging, I strive to be neither.
I wanted to produce work that could be interactive in some way. I produce a piece of work each night over the five days during the evening “gathering”. This is held in a very full Big Top which seats over 5,000 people. The work relates to and extends the theme of the day. This year the whole week was centred around prayer, the second night I produced a chicken wire figure formed from pressing sections of wire around my body. This figure was then suspended in my work space. I painted clouds and the ‘heavens’ behind the figure in an attempt to create a sense of coming into the presence of God. People were invited to come down throughout the evening and write prayers etc on to small pieces of paper and then insert them into the holes on the figure, filling it up with as the paper dropped or as it stay in the spaces. This pieces was definitely the most popular piece of work I did in the week and was brought out again on the last night and the final morning. I think it worked best as an image without any paintings behind but then there is that little bit of me that likes to over work a thing!
On night three the piece of work was an investigation around the connections made through prayer. People crying out in sorrow, through to those caught up in delight and thanksgiving. People were asked to come and add the threads and paper ribbons to the bottom of the painting.
I held a workshop on the second day which 100 plus people attended. We worked collaboratively to produce a prayer space. I had hung paper ribbon from a hoop which everyone added to as they wished.
It was a good week, the work was very well received. I have great conversations with lots of different people. It’s made me feel braver about who I am and how I function as an artist.