I’VE BEEN INVITED to contribute some Breathing Space at the launch of the new Art and Faith Network in Chester Diocese, to be held tomorrow at the studios of the sculptor Stephen Broadbent, one of whose early works is the stunning Water of Life in the Cloister Garden at Chester Cathedral.
Hmmm! Problem. Where Alpha and where Omega? I know I can talk for England on a subject as interesting and diverse as “the interaction between theology and the arts” – but I’ve also grasped the notion behind the day’s title: Breathing Space. There needs to be time for some. And time for gathered artists to tell each other a bit about their own stories. That’s the point of the Network. But it’s also the launch. No precedents. I shall need to be disciplined. Like an artist. Some clear shape, a bit of direction, a bit of art and a bit of theology. But not too much.
So I’ve chosen four mainstays: a couple of the wonderful poems of the Quaker teacher, Parker J Palmer (one of my heroes and a man who likes a lot of quiet); and two of the paintings of another Quaker, the gifted Melanie Weidner; the famous “An Artist in His Studio” by Rembrandt; and a tentative word (you will understand!) about Stephen’s Water of Life – Jesus and the Woman at the Well … but you can bet your bottom dollar that a gathering of a few priests and some artists in one place for much of a day is going to produce a heck of a lot more than that.
With Melanie Weidner I’ve found that the “problem” has initially brought forth a “damn”. And now a quiet, “well this could be fun”. Tomorrow I shall hope to be able to report not “Damn”, but “I mean, thank you“