Finding Freedom in Bristol


Originally produced for the Corner Art Prize 2001, where this piece won First Prize. Held at Church on the Corner in Islington, London, the competition asked for visual or sculptural responses to the following Bible passage, Matthew 6: 19-21:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Question boards at Bristol Cathedral’s ‘Standing Room Only’, 2014

Standing Room Only was held at Bristol Cathedral in September 2014, with Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. The event featured live bands, art works, short films and the chance to hear from people exploring the question “Where do we stand when life gets challenging?”, including the Archbishop speaking about his faith. My work on display around the Cathedral also included The Four Elements, with the chance for the guests to respond and express their own answers to the question on boards next to the pieces. I enjoyed some interesting conversations during the evening, and the opportunity to bring some visual ideas to life through biblical texts was touching and revealing.

The text below accompanied Finding Freedom in the exhibition:

One of the features in this ‘clipping’ from Jesus’ teaching which I am particularly drawn to is its simplistic use of imagery and language which yet points to a deeper truth. 

The repetition in the first two verses only serves to draw an exact and unambiguous line between their differences – namely the contrast between heaven and earth. I find it interesting that Jesus did not think it necessary to expound this difference in theological terms or highly descriptive language (which too often become the distinguishing features of the church’s doctrines regarding heaven and earth), and I wanted in my piece to reflect something of this uncomplicated message. 

With regards to imagery, Jesus’ emphasis is initially placed on the susceptibility of a material ‘treasure’ (to corrosion or theft); but in the third verse, we see Him equate such treasure with our ‘heart’ and His deeper concern for the spiritual well-being of his listeners.  By choosing the simple iconic images of a mouse ‘pointer’ and a bird in free flight, I hope to distinguish between the possessive attraction of a treasure that is contained, defined, and ultimately short-lived (the blue computer screen, upon closer inspection, is itself subject to fragmentation, being made up of a finite amount of pixels), and the liberal attraction of a treasure that releases us from worry, that is a promise of hope and eternity (where the blue sky provides a backdrop of infinite magnitude).

The Four Elements at Bristol Cathedral, 2014; with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

Header image: Finding Freedom, 2001 (installed at Bristol Cathedral, 2014), by Sheona Beaumont.

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