Fri 17 Jun, 2016

madebymotive exhibition, Catalyst Festival 2016

The strategy behind our festival gallery

Jonny Mellor / #Catalyst, #exhibition, #madebymotive

At the recent Catalyst Festival, we put on the exhibition: madebymotive. It acted as a cracking centrepiece of the SputnikZone this year and thank you so much to all the artists who exhibited as well as Chris and Hannah at Creative Arts Network for their help.

What’s funny about doing these exhibitions at the Catalyst Festival is that we work hard to make sure that they are designed not to primarily appeal to the people who are actually at the festival! I find something about the idea of Christians entertaining Christians slightly pointless, and while we hoped that people enjoyed the exhibition, its primary purpose was to make a statement about what ‘Christian art’ is and isn’t.

But I do recognise that such an obtuse strategy does need a bit of explanation, so I had to produce a write up explaining the gallery. For some reason this year I found this particularly tricky. However, I got there eventually and thought I’d stick it up here as in the end I think it explains our general ethos pretty well (and it makes me feel better about the 7 or 8 drafts that I ended up rejecting):

 In the SputnikZone this year, we want to talk about motive.

Perhaps a good place to start then is by telling you about ours. Our motive in putting on this exhibition is to highlight the important role of the arts and to showcase some Christians who we think are making the kind of art that has the power to speak into a society that is no longer listening to our preachers, our theologians and our apologists.

Some of the artists submitted work to this project (as part of CreativeArtsNetwork’s madebymotive project late 2015) and others were approached specifically for the exhibition. Our final selection was made, not because we thought this work would connect with people who might go to a Christian festival (ie Christians!) but we felt it would be likely to connect with people who are not here, who don’t know Jesus, who won’t naturally turn up at our meetings or come to our Alpha Courses. They may not all be explicitly about Jesus, in fact very few are, but let’s face it, not every lesson a Christian teacher teaches will contain a gospel presentation, not every patient a Christian doctor treats will be prayed for, not every deal a Christian business person makes will come with a personal tract. Very few will. We are called to be in the world, and be excellent at what we do in the world.

However, the thing about art is that artists who excel in their craft have the ability to communicate in a very powerful way. Excellent art communicates to people’s minds and hearts and shapes the very way they live. Excellent art also tends to be authentic, so a skilled artist will end up communicating their passions naturally through their work. Therefore, it would be very difficult for an artist who loves Jesus to not let their faith shine through at some point.

For that reason, we want more Christians to be making excellent art. 

So, if you are creative and are wondering if you should pursue your artistic leanings, we hope this exhibition inspires you to put time and effort into learning your craft. If you wouldn’t consider yourself creative, we hope this exhibition shows you something of what makes artists tick. They have many reasons for the hours they spend at their work. Some of these reasons are overtly spiritual, some are not. But all are valid as these guys look to become excellent at their art forms and potentially gain the ability and opportunity to communicate the good news of Jesus into people’s lives who presently will not hear it told to them by more straightforward means.

Alongside some reflections on the festival (and the ones that preceded it), I’m going to showcase some of the work from the exhibition too, alongside the artists’ motive statements. Some of the work won’t be quite the same as seeing it in the flesh, but it’ll give you the right idea.

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