FROM FEBRUARY to early April, key works from the Methodist Modern Art Collection will be on loan in the city of Bristol. The Collection comprises more than 50 oils, watercolours, prints and some sculptures by leading artists of the last 100 years.
It was formed in the 1960s and has particular strengths in British 20th Century art, including works by Elisabeth Frink, Patrick Heron, Ceri Richards and Graham Sutherland. There are also key examples of world art, including the popular Jyoti Sahi Dalit Madonna, and the first acquisition in 1963, F N Souza’s The Crucifixion. The vision statement of the Collection is ‘Seeing the Spiritual’.
The exhibition Articles of Faith – Where Our Paths Meet at Victoria Methodist Church is the first time that works from the collection are being displayed alongside artefacts from other faith traditions. The title Articles of Faith suggests those beliefs which people of faith hold close to their hearts. The Management Committee of the Methodist Modern Art Collection are pleased to support this ground-breaking exhibition and the local community engagement it has involved.
The minister at Victoria, the Rev Richard Sharples, comments: ‘We do believe different things, yet we share so much, hence the strapline ‘Where our paths meet’. We hope that those who have no faith will feel equally included as the exhibition is organised into eight clusters which relate to our common human spirituality; hope, suffering, hospitality, relationship and mystery, justice and peace, text and story, life and death, compassion and service.
“The whole project has been one long conversation on the part of the planning group, which has widened and deepened as we have been joined by people from faith traditions other than Christianity.”
A full programme of events which will appeal to broad audiences accompanies the exhibition, including talks on art and faith, workshops organised by the Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim partners, a schools art competition and a parallel exhibition of student art.
The Rev Leao Neto is the Assistant Ecumenical Officer for the Methodist Church in Britain. Regarding the Articles of Faith exhibition he commented: “This is very important from an interfaith perspective as the exhibition enriches the visitor’s experience by adding a three-dimensional element with the multi-faith artefacts that are shown. The curation cleverly includes opportunities for face to face encounters with people of different faiths reading their sacred scriptures together .I hope that this exhibition will inspire other local churches and circuits to engage in interfaith relations in such a creative manner.”
Simultaneously a smaller focused exhibition at the New Room, Bristol entitled Death to Life: Image, Expression and Symbolism considers the power of art to engage people at a spiritual level. It showcases four key works from the Collection, including William Roberts’ The Crucifixion painted in the early 1920s, creating space for reflection during the period of Lent. Kate Rogers, Co-Director of Collections at the New Room said: “Whatever belief, faith or meaning you draw from the cross, these paintings show us something raw, stark and poignant”.
Professor Ann Sumner, Chair of the Methodist Modern Art Collection added: “The Management Committee is delighted to see the Collection on display in Bristol this spring and that these two important exhibitions have been curated with such care and sensitivity, displaying our artworks in new and different ways, particularly at Victoria Methodist Church.
“This inter-faith community work and the thematic display of our loans has created new and exciting dialogues. It is indeed a time of ‘firsts’ for us, as it is not only the first time we have displayed our paintings beside artefacts from other faith traditions but also the first time we have worked with the New Room, Bristol. Our thanks are also extended to the Royal West of England Academy who have supported the Victoria exhibition. It is exciting for us to work in partnership across Bristol.
“We hope that many people will visit both exhibitions finding enjoyment in the art itself and the new interpretations will stimulate thought provoking discussions. We thank all those who have given their time and enthusiasm to bring these projects to fruition in such exciting ways”.
* The exhibition Articles of Faith: Where Our Paths Meet is at Victoria Methodist Church from 20 February to 8 April. It is free to visit and open between 11am-4pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 11am – 6pm on Thursdays and Saturdays. More information here.
* The exhibition Death to Life: Image, Expression and Symbolism is at The New Room, Bristol from 18 February to 8 April, Monday to Saturday, 10am – 4pm. John Wesley’s New Room is the oldest Methodist building in the world. Founded in 1739 by John Wesley, it is home to the original 18th century chapel, as well as a museum, a café and a reference library. More information here.
* Source: Methodist Church UK