Transforming Lives Exhibition: The Power of Art to Engage

19 April 2023

Art Exhibition Opens 19 April at Kingswood School, Bath

ghislaine_howard_the_washing_of_the_feetThe Methodist Art Collection is back at Kingswood School more than fifty years after its departure. Transforming Lives: The Power of Art to Engage aims to bring people together and create conversations, notably with students across various disciplines. There will also be opportunities for the local community to see the works with events which are open to the public. Eleven paintings will be displayed at the school from 19 April until early July 2023.

The exhibition includes key examples of world art by international artists such as the Indian-American British Asian artist F N Souza and the Indian painter Jyoti Sahi, as well as British woman artists Eularia Clarke and Maggi Hambling. Students and visitors are invited to take time to consider the light and shade, the colours, compositions and brushwork of these powerful works of art and how they speak to us today. For instance, Ghislaine Howard’s painting The Washing of the Feet captures the moment when Jesus shocked Peter by taking the role of servant and washing the disciples' feet. The image is timeless, reflecting the themes of power, humility, love and the gift of service.

‘The selection of works has been carefully made by the Chaplain at Kingswood, the Rev Katy Thomas, to reflect the exhibition’s themes, as well as the Gospel narrative’, says Professor Ann Sumner, the Chair of the Methodist Modern Art Collection Management Committee, ‘to encourage visitors to look closely at how our works express those themes, and speak to us in contemporary Britain. The Collection continues to transform lives wherever it is lent, and we are particularly pleased to be working with the young people at Kingswood, as they explore the themes of service, diversity and inclusion that are at the heart of Kingswood today.’

The Methodist Modern Art Collection was always intended to tour and 2023 marks sixty years since the first travelling exhibition of the Collection entitled The Church and the Artist, which toured from July 1963 – September 1965.  It was shown across the country, including at major galleries in Birmingham and Manchester, and was seen by 107,000 people. At the end of the first tour, the Collection went to Kingswood School, where it was displayed until the early 1970s. 

The choice of Kingswood School is also highly symbolic for this exhibition: the school was founded by John Wesley, the most prominent of the founders of Methodism, and celebrates its 275th anniversary in 2023. The exhibition is part of the events programme marking this milestone and the school’s commitment to honour John Wesley’s life and beliefs. It will also coincide with a major Methodist Schools Conference, also called Transforming Lives, at the end of April, when the exhibition will be viewed and discussed by international delegates.

Andrew Gordon-Brown, Headmaster of Kingswood School and Principal of the Kingswood Foundation writes, Kingswood are delighted to host this exhibition as part of our 275-anniversary celebration.  It's also a testament to the vision of our founder, John Wesley, who believed that art has the power to touch hearts and minds, inspire and transform. As we welcome this renowned collection of world-class works of art to our school, we are reminded of the timeless themes that continue to shape and mould lives across generations. It has been a privilege to work with Old Kingswoodian Professor Ann Sumner in her curation of these fine works, which we look forward to sharing with pupils and visitors. We hope that this exhibition will ignite a passion for creativity and inspire all who see it to make a positive impact on the world around them, and as John Wesley would say, "Take it out! Take it out to the People!"’


To book: By appointment only. Please email Rev Katy Thomas to arrange a visit. Individual or small groups are welcome. kthomas@kingswood.bath.sch.uk

Admission: Free (donations welcome)

Do not miss Professor Ann Sumner’s lecture, ‘The Story of the Methodist Modern Art Collection’, on 17 May 2023 at 7 pm at Kingswood School Chapel.  This event is free (although donations are appreciated) and includes the opportunity to see the exhibition as well – to book contact Rev Kay Thomas on the above email.

View the Methodist Modern Art Collection online here.