Our Last Supper by @idcampbellart – a meditation video inspired by @sandfordawards and @small_voice1


This year I once again was involved in the shortlisting for the Sandford Awards – awards for excellence in religious programming. The category that I was given was ‘Interview of the Year’ – all of the interviews were absolutely fascinating and every one could have been a winner. You can see the final shortlists here.

One interview that stayed with me was one based on a painting by the artist ID Campbell called Our Last Supper.

Our Last Supper by Iain Campbell

You can listen to the interview here: http://www.smallvoice.org.uk/a-thousand-words-iain-campbell/

Using this, I have created a meditative film that can be used in worship. Enjoy!

Iain Campbell is a portrait painter, and Artist in Residence at St George’s Tron Church of Scotland in Glasgow city centre.  ‘Our Last Supper’ is on display in the Olive Tree Café in St George’s Tron Church right in the heart of Glasgow city centre.



Unity – an art project that reveals that we are all connected to one another


In this current climate we each need to be reminded that there is more that unites us than divides us. I was really inspired by this art project showing how well connected we all are. I would love to try this out in our community.

Watch the video here:

Or here:

UNITY is circular arrangement of 32 poles in a large field. Each pole is labeled with an identifier. For example, “I’m a parent,” “I speak English as a Second Language,” “I identify as LGBTQ.” With yarn, participants tie to each pole with which they identify. A canopy of interconnectedness forms as more people participate. In the end, we see that we are all connected by something. This project celebrates the uniqueness of individuals and raises awareness of how labels impact our perception of and interactions with the world.

Read more: http://www.unityproject.net

Jesus smiling – an exhibition of 18 different artists from around the world


I found this link via Unvirtuous Abbey on Twitter:

There are some lovely paintings in this collection of 18 different artists’ work depicting a joyful Jesus.

A good resource for schools work and church things – sometimes it’s hard to find images of Jesus as different nationalities and also of him smiling!

Visit this link to download a pdf of the whole collection with artists’ notes:



Jesus laughing

Bring the Happy by @hopeandsocial with @invisibleflock – now available as an album


A quick update to this post I wrote in 2011. Hope and Social have now recorded the show ‘Bring the Happy’ which is currently on tour.  It is still really powerful, even in recorded rather than live form. I defy you not to have a tear in your eye! If you get the chance to see the show live, do. One of the best shows I’ve ever been to.

Listen here:



Here’s the original post from 2011:

Bring the Happy performance by Invisible Flock and Hope & Social

Last night I had the privilege to attend the Bring the Happy performance by a group of artists called Invisible Flock supported by the band Hope & Social.

Here’s a description of the project from the BBC website:

Thousands of people’s best memories of Leeds have been captured in a giant “happy map”.

Three artists began a project last year to record memories of people from the city to create the interactive piece.

A glass cylinder marks a spot on the map where something good, great or life-changing happened. The higher the tube, the happier the memory.

One memory reads: “As the clock struck midnight on Millennium Square, 2010, it started to snow.”

Bring the Happy is the brain child of a group of Leeds-based artists called Invisible Flock.

The performance at Northern Ballet last night was a beautiful journey through the thousands of memories gathered by the artists from people from all walks of life in Leeds. It was one of the most profound experiences I have had outside of church!

Ultimately, it was a collection of people’s stories, people’s lives. In focusing on people’s happiest memories it also threw into relief people’s grief and sadness as well. And I think it was in the undercurrent of melancholy that a sense of solidarity and beauty pervaded the atmosphere of the room we were in. The whole gamut of human experience was shared.

I took a few pictures which hardly show how beautiful this evening was.

We were all sitting around tables decorated with balloons and were given an ‘order of service’ with song words in, written by Hope & Social – and being a Hope & Social performance there was plenty of communal singing!

It looked like a wedding reception and at many times it felt like one – lots of laughs and tears shared by the attendees all united in this experience of sharing life stories.

One of the collected memories was:

A kiss I’d wished for for weeks coming true

This was turned into a chorus which we and the band sang while the artists read memories of first love from their collection.

Many of the memories the artists collected were about intoxication. 90s rave music played, we waved glow sticks and were given shots of vodka as memories of being out on the lash in Leeds were read out. I smiled as one of them I share – dancing at Move on Up on Wednesday nights at the Underground.

There were also lots of memories of the old dance halls of Leeds – many mentioning dancing the gay gordon at Mecca in the 50s. The band played a waltz and we all went onto the dancefloor, reliving these borrowed memories together:

We sang a hymn to Hyde Park and waved sparklers as memories of Hyde Park were shared – again, these resonated with me as I have my own memories of Hyde Park from my student days:

A moving story was told of two young scally lads who shared memories of ‘Nana’ who had died. A New Orleans style jazz song played as a funeral march was played in memory of ‘Nana’:

These are just tiny glimpses of what was an incredible evening. The performance closed with the Ballad of Leeds – written by Hope & Social and based on the memories of Leeds people – the first line is ‘I was born in Quarry Hill’ – the same spot where we were sitting that had once been a social housing project in the 60s and 70s and later demolished to make way for all the arts buildings there now.

Greenbelt 2011 #gb11 reflections – Friday – Angels of the North, Billy Bragg, iMass


So I just got back from the wonderful Christian Arts Festival, Greenbelt. I thought I would write a little overview/review of my experiences. If you were there, do comment below this post! Thanks.

Angels of the North

My friend Carla Moss organised this fabulous art exhibition of works by artists based in the North of England. We went along to the opening. Instead of glasses of wine we were greeted by people offering small cups of wine – the kind used for communion in Baptist churches and bread or wafers. It put a whole new spin on the idea of communion. People were happily accepting the tiny wine glasses and a chunk of bread as they entered the exhibition space- I wondered how non-church people might have perceived it.
The piece I spent the most time looking at was by Rebecca Strain – images of bible texts that she had made by putting the words literally in her mouth and then working through a photography process which left the part of the bible that was in her mouth visible and the rest of the paper black. It was fascinating to hear about this from the artist herself – we had an interesting conversation about how we comprehend information. It put me in mind of two bible verses:

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! – Psalm 119:103

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” – Isaiah 6: 6

Also in the exhibition was a piece by Larna Campbell who we gave a lift to Greenbelt and is my newest friend! It was an amazing deconstructed bible – pages from a bible covered in wax and lit from beneath.

You can see this piece and hear Carla talking about the exhibition in this video here.


Billy Bragg

After the art showing we ran down and caught the last of Billy Bragg’s set. The man is an absolute legend and it was great to see him get a huge crowd going, just him and his electric guitar – nothing else. It was fun singing along to New England (dedicated to Kirsty MacColl).


I was intrigued to go along to what was advertised as an iMass – or ‘digital eucharist’ at which we were invited to take our smartphones and iPads and take part in a service which used digital media. It was a largely hit and miss affair ultimately.
As we arrived there was a time of meditation. We were encouraged to tweet, using the hashtag #iMass, anything that we felt that God was saying. These tweets were projected onto the wall for people to read in the silence. I felt that this worked – we were sitting in silence but communicating in that silence, it was quite moving and because it was twitter it was possible to retweet or reply to people’s tweets. However, during this time an iPad was being passed around the room. It had an app playing that was a pond of fish that when you disturbed the waters with your fingers made a splashing noise and the fish moved away. This was just a pure distraction, the noise wasn’t nice as it was haphazard and the fish app didn’t seem to have any relevance to the service.
Then it came to the service itself. Some of the liturgy was quite nicely written but other sections jarred with me. Text was projected onto screens (not that cutting edge really) accompanied by images I found unhelpful – mainly a poor take on the iPod silhouette adverts with silhouettes of young people holding a white chalice. These images were incongruous for me. For one they were of trendy young people but holding a chalice (not an image one ever sees) and on the other hand they were corporate adverts for Apple adapted for use in Church. They were kind of the equivalent of that cheesy adaptation of the Coca Cola advert with the words ‘Jesus Christ – he’s the real thing’. Fun for a t-shirt perhaps but not an aid to worship!
The funniest moment was when the priest realised that he’d forgotten the bread for communion! So we had to just take ‘virtual bread’ which was kind of appropriate but unintended. One wag drew a loaf of bread on his iPad and propped it against the altar!
I went to receive the wine and was again faced with more distractions. The chalice was a cup decorated with QR codes – why I don’t know! The priest also had QR codes on his stole which made him look current but for me were silly – when were you supposed to scan them? I kind of wish I had scanned them to see what website they pointed to but scanning vestments just feels weird to me and not appropriate during worship.
So all in all I don’t think this quite worked. However, I’m glad Greenbelt is the sort of place this kind of thing can be tried out at. We need to experiment with worship, try and find new ways to express old truths so I’m glad I went and I’m pleased that people wanted to try it.

Jaume Plensa exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park


I just visited Yorkshire Sculpture Park to see the new exhibition there by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa.

Interestingly he uses a lot of poetry in his artworks and many of the pieces in this particular exhibition were inspired by the Song of Solomon in the Bible. The main one of these pieces was called Jerusalem and consisted of a series of hanging gongs with verses from the Song of Solomon inscribed on them. His work is interactive and in Jerusalem you were encouraged to take a drum stick and hit the gongs lightly. If you stood in the centre of the circle of gongs there was an amazing resonance as the sound of the gongs rang out.


There are a series of other works all which I think it would be impossible not to be moved by. This is a truly inspirational exhibition and I would really recommend going!


Portrait of Christ by Jeremy Cowart


OK, this doesn’t quite fit the ‘rules’ of this site as it’s not technically drawing from secular culture. However, this is my blog and so I can put what I want on it! I saw this on Don Miller’s blog and thought it was great. 


Reminded me of the verse in Matthew’s Gospel:


    “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40, New International Version, ©2011)


Brilliant animation of a portrait of Christ: