‘Hope’ community art exhibition
What to do when a church building can’t be used to host normal community events or offer food-based hospitality during the week? Lockdown has taught us there are lots of possibilities. In early autumn, St Cuthbert’s, Wood Green hosted a 10-day community art exhibition on the theme of hope.
The spring lockdown of 2020 not only prevented our churches from gathering to worship together on Sundays, but also put a stop on many of the programmes and courses that serve and reach out to local people throughout the week. Those constraints have helped Christians get more creative about how they can serve and reach people where they are. It has also led to new uses of our church buildings.
Prevented from using their church space for their usual summer community events and programmes, St Cuthbert’s hosted its first community art exhibition, choosing hope as its theme.
Flyers to the whole parish in July/August invited contributions from professional artists and amateurs of all ages. Their responses, combined with some local artists, and Christian artists from other nearby churches, led to over 30 paintings, photographs and sculptures being displayed during late September, and early October.
Once updated Covid guidance emerged in early autumn, the church advertised and hosted a variety of timeslots across a 10-day period. That meant the exhibition saw a steady flow of visitors, while easily preserving social distancing and ensuring guests felt safe. Spreading out visitors also created opportunities for hosts from the church to chat with guests about their experience of lockdown and what they were looking to for hope.
Claire Newton, the church’s Youth and Families worker said:
“We’ve been amazed by the quality of the artwork, and the opportunities it has given us with visitors to the exhibition. We’ve welcomed local families, artists, neighbours, and groups from the local special needs school. In the short time that ministry in person restarted, we’ve already seen new families joining us for Sunday services and other youth ministry.
“By being visual, the exhibition was accessible to the broad variety of language groups on our doorstep whom we were able to make aware of our English conversation classes. That’s one way we hope to see visitors to the exhibition again.”
Revd Mark Jones Parry, Priest in Charge at St Cuthbert’s, said:
“The church family were active from early on in lockdown – caring for each other, supporting neighbours, and volunteering in local initiatives (mutual aid groups, foodbank collection and deliveries…). We were keen that, as well as going out into the community, we create an opportunity to invite our neighbours in, and help them connect the experience of lockdown to the Christian hope. Our prayer is that, for everyone who walked through the church doors, it will be a step forward in getting to know Christians on the way to getting to know Christ.”