Building new Bridges.
Today, I took another trip into Folkestone town. Having been here for a little over six weeks now it’s probably my third trip down into the Creative (Quarter Steep St/Tontine St). More and more of the creative quarter is starting to open up again with several galleries and artists studios active, the whole area is gradually becoming visibly vibrant once again.
So today, as I was walking along Tontine Street, I came across an open gallery exhibition if work by Sue Bridge (www.Sue-bridge.co.uk). As luck would have it, Sue is actually in the gallery curating and I entered into a conversation with her which was both enlightening and informative.
Sues work is fabulous. Her works are large 1 metre sq canvases, colourful and abstract with a depth and form that whilst meditating on them at it for several moments; (something not everyone does when looking at artwork) shapes and forms seemed to flow across the canvas like liquid.
Sue and I were able to discuss our latest works, and I explained my work is very much influenced by my faith but I believe all artists are influenced by the spiritual side which I strongly felt was reflected in Sues work on display, and indeed so did Sue. We also discuss the mechanics of putting on exhibitions, how we actually get people to attend and see our work let alone purchase, always a challenge! We discussed the pros and cons of a static exhibition along with the sort of interactive exhibitions that I’ve managed in collaboration with artists in Bicester; where I previously lived working with artists from the town to support the Bicester festivals and activities as a group of artists who come from the churches.
This is an interesting dynamic and one which I have been mulling over in my head, considering now that I'm in Folkestone, about taking the next step, bringing artists into collaboration with artist of faith to express what God / the Spirit of God is actually saying; and for the church to be actively involved in supporting and promoting Artists of both faith and none through residences and community support.
Now I realise this would be a brave step for a lot of churches as they find it difficult even to support artists who are Christians in their expression of their faith through their art. A lot of work needs to be done to enable this to happen on both the point of view of artists like myself and the congregation, building relationships with others to express what God is saying about our world for which, I’ve truly believe, he works through non-Christian artists as well as Christian artist as they express themselves in a generative way through creativity.
So my discussions this morning ended with me considering that perhaps Sue will be one of those people that may like to work with me, and maybe others, if I can persuade the new church that I’m now attending (or any other or all in town) to open up and embrace what would be for them potentially risky venture, but I believe one God would blessed; would truly be GENERATIVE AND TRANSFORMATIONALLY, opening debate and dialogue in new ways that perhaps only the creative can, getting those of faith involved in new ways serving alongside others in the wider neighbourhood to which we all seek to make connections.
So where to now. I think the nextstep is to properly engage with others like Sue, perhaps to do some collaborative exploration work to see where we go, building relationships with local artists as part of the artistic community as I establish relationships with my church family and those in the community in which I know live, here in Folkestone.
I thank Sue for being in her exhibition space this morning, I believe it was a spirit led meeting, may Sue does too.
Sue Bridge - new paintings Folkestone Triennial 5th -8th Aug 2021 - Touch base Gallery 15 Tontine St Folkestone