Seeing the Spiritual


This autumn, to mark its 60th anniversary, major artworks from the Methodist Modern Art Collection are on loan to diverse venues across the country. A programme of events will accompany the loans to celebrate sixty years of collecting and art-based activism.

The Methodist Modern Art Collection has been described by Tim Marlow, Director of the Design Museum, as ‘one of the art world’s unexpected treasures shining new light on the historically rich relationship between art and faith.’

Since 1962, thousands of people have viewed the growing Collection which now numbers over 50 art works with strengths in 20th Century British art, including examples by Graham Sutherland, Elisabeth Frink, Patrick Heron and Maggie Hambling. The first acquisition was made in June 1962, just a month after the consecration of Coventry Cathedral, that major post-war celebration of contemporary religious art and architecture.

The Collection was brought together by a group of individuals, led by Methodists John Morel Gibbs and the Revd Douglas Wollen in Penarth, south Wales, who were united in their aim to engage people with new visual languages and promote conversations about God and Christianity. Works have been shown over the past 60 years in galleries, churches, cathedrals, schools, universities; in small rural communities and larger urban areas.

 Loans of artworks to mark the Collection’s 60th anniversary until December 2022 are:

  • The painting Good Friday Walking on Water by Maggie Hambling is on show at Coventry Cathedral to mark a shared 60th anniversary in 2022.
  • The watercolour Crucifixion by Michael Edmonds is at Y Gaer, Brecon, reflecting the Welsh links with the origins of this collection.
  • The painting Christ Writes in the Dust by Clive Hicks- Jenkins is on show at the childhood home of John Wesley, The Old Rectory Epworth, Lincolnshire.
  • Four aluminium sculptures from the Stations of the Cross, by Frank Roper are on display at Woodhouse Grove Methodist School Chapel, Apperley Bridge, Bradford. Roper was born in nearby Howarth and attended Keighley School of Art.
  • The Elements of Holy Communion by Jacques Iselin is on loan to Balsall Common Methodist Church, Coventry until the end of the year.

Earlier this year as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations, the painting The Five Thousand by Eularia Clarke was lent to Shieldfield Art Works, Newcastle.

Talks to accompany the season of celebration led by the Chair of the Collection, Professor Ann Sumner, will take place including at Victoria Methodist Church in Bristol which will also be the venue for the next major exhibition of the Collection, Articles of Faith, in February 2023.

Professor Ann Sumner, said: ‘I am delighted that we have been able to share the Collection during our 60th milestone year with partners across the country.

‘While the Collection is renowned for its strengths in British 20th Century art, international works were also acquired from the beginning, ensuring the Collection’s enduring attraction to a world-wide audience.’

 Forthcoming events:

  • Professor Ann Sumner in conversation with Dr John Gibbs, Saturday 15 October, 3.30pm, Victoria Methodist Church, 1A Whiteladies Road, Bristol BS8 1NU. Free admission but prior booking advised here.  Further details are here. Professor Ann Sumner, Chair of the Methodist Modern Art Collection Management Committee, will talk to Dr John Gibbs, son of the founder of the Collection and former Chair.
  • 60 years of the Methodist Modern Art Collection, an online talk, Saturday 12 November 2022, 11am – 12noon, from Epworth Old Rectory in Lincolnshire. Free admission. Book by email to Anya Johnson, Visits and Collections Manager, at vcm@epwortholdrectory.org.uk. Professor Ann Sumner will outline the early history of the Collection, describe how it has developed and contextualise the acquisition of the Clive Hicks-Jenkins Christ writes in the Dust: The Woman Caught in Adultery painting of 2011, currently on loan to Epworth Old Rectory as part of the 60th anniversary programme.
  • November event at Woodhouse Grove School, to be announced shortly.

2023 Exhibitions from the Collection:

  • Articles of Faith, at the Victoria Methodist Church, Bristol 18 Feb – 8 April 2023
  • New Visions Emmanuel Ecumenical Church, Eastbourne 26 May - 30 June 2023


Good Friday Walking on Water by Maggie Hambling is on show at Coventry Cathedral from the Methodist Modern Art Collection © TMCP, used with permission