Curating art in churches

Medieval wall painting at All Saints and St Andrew, Kingston depicting a devil climbing a Tree of Evil. Photograph by Torrie Smith

Medieval wall painting at All Saints and St Andrew, Kingston depicting a devil climbing a Tree of Evil. Photograph by Torrie Smith

This two-year initiative focuses on forming partnerships to deliver contemporary art exhibitions in Anglican churches and cathedrals. Recent case studies and guidelines for curating temporary exhibitions have also been drawn up.

Current projects

‘Fellowship’ commissions across Waltham Forest borough

We’re pleased to announce that the artist Emma Smith will be working with churches in the Deanery of Waltham Forest as part of our Art in Churches project for 2019. Waltham Forest is the first to have won the status of London Borough of Culture and A+C has secured funding to work with four artists and four churches for the year. Victoria Burgher, Hannah Whittaker and Naomi Maxwell have also been selected as associate artists having proposed artworks for churches with a focus on the theme of ‘fellowship’ and community engagement. All the artists live, work or have a personal connection to Waltham Forest.

Kindly supported by London Over the Border.

Responding to medieval wall paintings at All Saints and St Andrew, Kingston

We are currently working with All Saints and St Andrew's Church, Kingston, Cambs to commission an artist based at nearby Wysing Art Centre to make work for an exhibition within the church in summer 2019. The work will respond to the church's historic wall paintings and be set within the context of an arts and heritage festival to engage the community in and around Kingston and give prominence to this beautiful rural church.

The artist Bettina Furnée has been selected to take forward this commission. Furnée’s proposed project departs from one of the most striking images depicted on the walls of the church; the Wheel of the Seven Acts of Corporal Mercy, which is set above an image of the Tree of Evil nourished by demons and (mostly lost) depictions of the Seven Deadly Sins. Furnée’s commission will explore the ways in which the binary depictions of good and evil common to the medieval period have given way to a greater spectrum of manifestations of human behaviour. Her installation will also reflect on the fragmentary and partial nature of the wall paintings, playfully filling in blanks and speculating on lost text and images.

Kindly supported by Allchurches Trust, the Jerusalem Trust and the Headley Trust.

Past projects

The first Art in Churches project was a site-responsive installation hosted by St John the Baptist church in Newcastle. Ritournelle (once more, from the top) by Katia Kameli is the result of a short residency in Summer 2017, programmed in collaboration with Platforma, an arts and refugee network. This site-specific art work filled the small diamond panes of glass with coloured film, in patterns that recalled design and architecture motifs native to some of the primary countries from which refugees and migrants relocate to Newcastle. Countries and designs referenced include Punjabi Phulkari and Congolese Kuba textiles and Iraqi mosaic design.
Wanting also to create a sound work, Kameli invited migrants and refugees from the city, as well as members of the church choir, to sing a song which reminds them of home. These songs were recorded in situ at St John the Baptist and were available to listen to in the church.
The residency, production and installation of the work was managed by Laura Purseglove, Project Curator for Art and Christianity and the Church Buildings Division of the Church of England.

Kindly supported by Allchurches Trust, Arts Council of England, the Jerusalem Trust, the Headley Trust and the Pea Green Boat Community First Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

Case studies

Case studies of temporary visual arts projects in churches and cathedrals are available here:

All Saints, West Dulwich: a long duration participatory artist-in-residence

And to download:

Lent exhibitions at St Michael's Discoed: a small rural parish church with an annual exhibition
Angel by Rose Finn-Kelcey at St Paul's Bow Common: an urban church in a multi-ethnic area which hosted a 6-month art installation on the exterior of the church
St John on Bethnal Green: an urban church with ongoing exhibitions in The Belfry and church

Further case studies will be published here in due course.

Commissioning New Art for Churches: a Guide for Parishes and Artists

A pdf to download with details guidance on commissioning new permanent works of art as well as temporary exhibitions. Published in partnership with ChurchCare.

Past curating projects

'A Light Shines in the Darkness', a touring exhibition of artists' films organised by Paul Bayley with Film and Video Umbrella. The programme included:
Suki Chan, Still Point
Alexander and Susan Maris, Uriel
Melanie Manchot, LEAP after the Great Ecstasy
Graham Ellard and Stephen Johnstone, Everything Made Bronze
Kathleen Herbert, Stable
Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, The Carrier’s Prayer

Christian partner in the Three Faiths Forum Urban Dialogues exhibition.

20 January 2011
All Hallows on the Wall: Host to Jeffrey Charles Henry Peacock evening event.

13 October – 3 Decmber 2010
Wallspace gallery: 'Commission’ an exhibition of contemporary art in British Churches.

26 June – 13 July 2006
City of London Festival: three works by Yoko Ono at St Paul's Cathedral.

27  June – 13 July 2005
City of London Festival: INSIGHT included works by Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, Adele Prince, Victoria Jones, John Newling, and Rebecca Horn.

November 2004
St Edmund the King & Martyr, Lombard Street: Tom Gidley Your actual

July 2004
St Stephen's Walbrook: Simon Hitchens In the Presence of Absence


Banner image: Katia Kameli, Ritournelle (once more, from the top), 2017