Christ of All Creation.
This beautiful image of Christ is part of a larger composite created and displayed at the Churches Together England 2012 conference at Swanwick, UK this past week. This triennial conference is several years in the planning and I was lucky enough to be invited to be a creative director in the worship team.
Much of the content of the conference can be accessed from the CTE Website, so I will concentrate on the artwork here.
The theme of the conference was inspired by St. Paul and his letter to the Corinthians about what love requires of us.
On the Wednesday before the conference people coming into St. Mary’s may have had the misfortune to see me on the floor on my knees, rear end in the air, in the Chapterhouse drafting out the template for the image on two hundred pieces of card. The image was the Suffering Servant based on Isiaiah Ch 50 and is about Christ bound and crowned with thorns.
At the conference I had one evening and one day and only certain times during that day, to grab delegates and persuade them to colour or to stick and glue fabric, sequins, various coloured papers onto the small cards with cryptic marker pen lines on them. Amazingly they came, men and women from all denominations and some before breakfast even. About 90 % of the cards were completed and the image was assembled and raised up on the last morning behind the podium. Three and a half metres by two and a half metres, he is yet the biggest image of Christ I have caused to be created as yet. And he was beautiful. His crown of thorns was turned into a halo of leaves and flowers . His face was all colours and marvellously depicted with all the resources I had on offer. Geckos, zebras and poetry were included into his body. One enterprising American went out to find leaves and berries to stick on and was so happy working on the image he stayed with several other
diehards to complete several cards.
The people who came to create did not have to be artists, I had made that clear at the start of the conference. This was a good thing to do as those who tried it out just played like children and enjoyed the freedom to do whatever they wanted except where I directed various textures of gold, not to cover the black lines or where we needed lighter areas. I felt humbled and privileged to work with so many different people: Salvationists, Quakers, Pentecostals, Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, Baptists.
I also met an Independent Methodist at breakfast one day and had an interesting insight into this small group. The people who came were gracious and I was touched by their reverence and focus as they wanted to do something special for Jesus. Well they succeeded as, on the last morning when the image was erected, people who entered the conference hall were enthralled as were those who took part in the creation of Him. They had no idea what the image would look like or even that it was Christ.
The symbolism is clear, that despite our diversity we are all part of the one body and it is beautiful.
I call Him Christ of All Creation.
Working alongside the indomitable sisters of St. Andrew this event was incredible for its spiritual content and harmony between all faiths. The moderator was a Quaker and we experienced many Quaker moments and what she called unQuakerish moments as she filled in her card with shiny fans and sequins!
On the last day I was allotted a place to address the conference on the creation and also to talk about icons. I spoke through a film made by Simon Weaver from St. Mary’s about the creation of an icon of Christ that we used as part of all the working groups at the conference. Afterwards, Bishop Doye, a Pentecostal and the next moderator for the forum smiled at me at lunch and said thank you for explaining to him for the first time how the orthodox icon had such a deep spiritual content. He had not realised this before and it has changed his understanding. The video was a great hit and I had many complements afterwards about how inspiring it and the composite image of Christ was.
As Bishop Doye would say to us all, Remain Blessed.
More images below: