Sunday, 7 March 2010

A visit to York

To end our summer holiday last year I went to York to see the deconsecrated church of St Marys that is now used as an art installation space and has had both Caroline Broadhead and Susie MacMurray exhibit there before. I was not disappointed; the space was beautiful, a very old chapel full of the atmosphere of the prayers of previous generations. It felt to me like walking into sacred space, even though it had been deconsecrated. I spent about half an hour in the church and I spoke to the invigilators who told me that they had catalogues for all the previous installations so I bought them all and have been reading them eagerly. I felt so excited at the way this sacred space had been used. I have for so long been trying to encourage the use of contemporary art within churches and within our free church tradition it is either frowned upon or done in such a way as to be naff and unprofessional. Here was something different and for me it ticked all the boxes. This has now become a dream and a goal of mine, to exhibit a contemporary installation within a sacred space. I suppose it links back to one of my earlier works called Confession Box (2002) that was part of the Brighton festival; the work was sited in a catholic church. But this installation filled the space, it echoed with beauty and meaning and I feel excited at the prospect of working in this way.
We also visited York Cathedral and saw how amazing the traditional art work and architecture was here. I am so disappointed that today we often just use school halls or community centres for worship and feel it is an indulgence to spend any money on creating and designing beautiful buildings for worship.

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