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Creative Christians view Bill Viola's Martyrs
/ 13 May 2015

Creatives meet for art and conversation at St Paul’s Cathedral

More than 50 people from the Creative 2020 Network recently attended a private view, conversation and meditation on the Bill Viola installation – Martyrs. Julia Porter-Pryce, who leads the Creative Arts team, as part of Capital Vision 2020 hosted the conversation, which followed the vision of the installation coming to fruition.

Andrea Lissoni, Curator at Tate Modern and Canon Mark Oakley discussed the vision and practicalities of the Cathedral and Tate Modern, working on the installation, including the Norman Foster design. Mark recounted how some people reacted to the installation, often being moved to tears as they reflected on their own personal experiences of oppression and persecution.

Bishop Adrian, chair of the Creative Network commented that it was inspiring to see how the partnership between Tate Modern and St Paul’s, symbolically linked by the Millennium Bridge, continued to bring art that was relevant, evocative and challenging at societal and scriptural levels.

Later, Lindsay Meader read a theological reflection by Kevin Scully on Martyrs, before the artwork. The reflection invited guests on a journey. Recognising that it is impossible to take in the artwork in a single viewing, Kevin gave some pointers to help. Such are the contradiction of movement and stasis within the panels, in the martyrs’ eyes and hands. Remembering that “Martyrdom is about the conundrum of finding life in death”  Kevin notes, “there is a seeming contradiction in the Christian life that is caught in these images: we are set free when we take on a yoke; we live when we die.”  Raising questions for guests to ponder as each embarked on their own personal journey.

Commenting on the evening, guests said they found it “stimulating and well organised”, and appreciated the opportunity to make connections and network with diverse professionals across the creative arts industries; to listen and engage with leading authorities, such as Tate Modern; and to have the balance of quiet time to immerse oneself in the haunting spirituality of the artwork.

To participate and contribute to Diocese of London’s engagement with the creative arts, join the Creative 2020 Network or email creatives.network@nulllondon.anglican.org for more information.


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