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This series of 14 artworks was shown at the Bible and Spirituality Symposium, held at Glenfall House, Cheltenham (29th – 31st May, organised by University of Gloucestershire and Bible Society). Part of my PhD in visual theology, these photographic prints and photo-based installations explore the imagery of the elements, as seen through Christian spirituality and biblical symbolism. As well as specific references to earth, fire, wind and water, there is imagery that considers nature and the planet as the stage on which expressions of faith are set.
Previously in May, this work was shown in Bristol as part of the Bristol Festival of Photography across two venues: Colston Hall’s Glass Room and St Stephen’s Church. The various contexts of church, public exhibition venue and academic forum have yielded some rich and ranging discussions: from art as contemplation in a spiritual tradition, to conceptual questions about art as knowledge. I’ve had the benefit of responses to a paper given at the Postgraduate Theology and Religious Studies Conference (Bristol University, March 2012), where I discussed this work-in-progress, as well as its presentation to two groups of artists and photographers who meet regularly in Bristol to share ideas (The Group and Second Look, May 2012).
As part of bigger events, including the festival and the symposium, this work has successfully contributed to wider forums for research – my own position straddling the areas of contemporary art theory/practice (with particular reference to photography) and theology/spirituality. In my capacity as regional representative for Art & Christianity Enquiry, I hope to extend both the opportunities to show this work and to further the connections being made across these two disciplines. A programme for 2013 is being developed.
My thanks to Bible Society, the University of Gloucestershire and the Christian Arts Trust, who sponsored the production of these artworks in their entirety.
Header image: The Four Elements at Glenfall House, 2012, by Sheona Beaumont.