I've just returned from Sweden having spent several days with a group of like-minded people from across Europe at the European Baptists Federation Arts in Mission conference.
Sitting here, back at home in the UK this Monday morning, rubbish bin put out for collection, dog and cat fed, jug of coffee on hand, I've diverted from making my to-do-list for the week ahead to put down my rambling thoughts in to some sort of coherent order.
I don't always (probably never if honest) stick rigidly to any to-do list, but with the various activities I need to consider fitting in around my day job, a list is a good starting point this week!
So this blog is the first on the list, sharing my thoughts to hopefully make sense and maybe have others enter into the discussion and adding some clarity too.
I'm an artist, not a theologian. I've never been trained in theology or studied theology at an academic level. I draw, paint, photograph and sculpt and generally create wherever and whenever I can. If you ask me I'll happily tell you creating is in-grained, a part of me since childhood. And as the years have rolled passed my creativity and my faith have been drawn closer together.
As with all things we humans are inquisitive and want to know why we do what we do. So I attended the Arts in Mission conference seeking to align my thoughts and actions into a coherent explanation or even theology of art in mission; seeking out what others are doing; to be inspired and encouraged.
I was inspired, encouraged, enlightened and delighted, whilst also humbled, especially realising how fortunate I am to live in a country where my artist endeavours can be expressed, viewed and debated freely, unlike some of the delegates who live and work under different regimes.
Did the conference answer all my questions? Well no but that was not really the intention. It did what we'd asked and opened up the discussion, one which yes has been going on for a long time, with academics the likes of Hans Rookmaaker, Calvin Seerveld and Francis Schaeffer in the mid-70's continuing up to today with Makoto Fujimura, Begbie and Queshi; and of course creative makers of art.
In fact, I probably have more questions to consider now. As my mind-palace gets stuffed full of objects to ruminate on, I think I'd better do more writing and creating to get them in some semblance or order!
As a starter for 10 we've explored at conference 'what is Art in the context of Mission?
Perhaps an extension of this for me
is 'does there need to be a 'Christian' intentionality to my work to say it fits into any definition of 'Arts in Mission'. Perhaps as Nicholas Wolterstorff stated; " Works of art are not simply the oozing of subconscious impulses; they are the results of beliefs and goals on the part of the artist".
Hmmm... more to ponder.