Elemental exhibition report

The Four Elements at Glenfall House

6 Days of Uncreation at Colston Hall

For more images and information about the work, click here.

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.

St Stephen’s show opening 24th April

The Four Elements

My show Elemental: Earth, Fire, Wind and Water opens in just over a week’s time at St Stephen’s Church, Bristol. From the press release:

Elemental is an exhibition of photography and photo-based installations exploring the imagery of the elements, as seen through Christian spirituality and biblical symbolism. Both cafe walls (Dennis Anthony) and church space (myself) will be transformed to bring contemplative and conceptual encounter to life.

The elements earth, fire, wind and water were once considered the building blocks of all matter by ancient philosophers and scientists. Today, it is their symbolic capacity which captures the imagination, not least through the multiple lenses of faith, which offer a deep and colourful reflection on the human experience. In this exhibition, two photographers draw on their own Christian backgrounds and their love of nature to consider how we might look at the elements in a more mystical way.

Sheona Beaumont’s work includes a film, two lenticular prints, a multiple-photo collage and four large abstract canvasses (seen above). Her photographs are digitally-manipulated to produce a range of stunning effects, from the impression of space in a 3-dimensional print to the illusion of movement in an animated print of the Severn Estuary’s tide. Each piece has a sensory impact, and the accompanying text challenges the viewer to link their experience to specifically biblical concepts.

Dennis Anthony’s photographs are windows on moments of stillness in the busy café. Here you’ll find both large-scale celebrations of the brilliance of the world around us, and closer-to-home views to re-enchant our looking at a basic level. With nature as his inspiration, Dennis draws out the effect of the elements on his own personal journey of faith, and offers the results for contemplation.

This exhibition features as part of the Bristol Festival of Photography: a biennial event in May where a host of art institutions and photographers join in on exhibitions, talks and other events celebrating Bristol’s photography scene. Sheona will also be exhibiting at Colston Hall’s Glass Room and St George’s Crypt Gallery – see the festival website for details, www.bfop.org