MMAC news and events

The Focolare Centre for Unity is holding its first art exhibition on the theme of Lent and Easter

Dalit Madonna by Jyoti Sahi, The Empty Tomb by Richard Bavin, The Washing of the Feet by Ghislaine Howard are among the 25 paintings selected by the organising committee of the exhibition ‘Deepening the Mystery, ‘unexpected treasures’ of art’ opening on Saturday 2 March 2024 at the Focolare Centre for Unity in Welwyn Garden City.

‘Deepening the Mystery, ‘unexpected treasures’ of art’ explores how artists such as Ghislaine Howard painted and interpreted scenes of the Bible. Through this lens, visitors will discover and rediscover well-known biblical stories, uncover new details and have the possibility to explore how each artist brings their interpretation to interpret key well-known scenes from the Bible.

One highlight of the accompanying exhibition programme is the ‘Music and Poetry’ evening on Wednesday 27 March. The two northern Irish poets David Campton – a Methodist minister who published Doodlings and Doggerel in 2022 – and Jim Deeds – a poet of catholic faith who published Gym for the Soul in 2018 and Soul Seasons in 2021 – will showcase their work linked to Lent and Easter offering new depths to the understanding of the biblical stories.

The organisers have also developed a Lent course based on six exhibits which will be used by local (or any) churches. The concept is interactive using images, music, texts and open-ended questions to explore aspects of the Easter story. This is an ecumenical project written by Anglican and Catholic priests.

The paintings come from the Methodist Modern Art Collection (MMAC), one of Britain’s most important collections of modern religious art. The entire collection comprises over 50 works, including some by well-known British artists such as Graham Sutherland, Elisabeth Frink, and Maggi Hambling and some by international artists. ‘Unexpected treasures’ is a reference to Tim Marlow’s description of the Collection as “…one of the art world’s unexpected treasures, including some of the most powerful and arresting religious art of the 20th and 21st centuries”.

Paul Gateshill, one of the main organisers said: “This collection is inspirational, and it is a real privilege to have it here in Welwyn Garden City. The pictures offer a modern and multicultural interpretation of some of the most influential bible stories, affording new perspectives and insight. It doesn’t matter if visitors have a religious faith or not. Some of the artists exhibiting were or are Christians – and others were not. Art speaks to everyone and there is something for all at this exhibition. We will be opening the exhibition up to schools, artists and local groups from other churches and art groups. We are also offering a programme of events, including music and poetry, and a community café.”

Professor Ann Sumner, Chair of the Management Committee of the MMAC said: “From the early Church to the present day, images have played a crucial role in the exploration of Christian faith and spirituality. The Collection is one of the Methodist Church’s greatest treasures. Scenes depicted in the paintings illustrate the gospel narrative from the Nativity to Pentecost. For just over 60 years it has amazed visitors, enhanced worship, enthused mission and inspired poetry and dance. We look forward to seeing this new imaginative exhibition ‘Deepening the Mystery – unexpected treasurers of art’ in Welwyn Garden City and welcoming all to enjoy this exciting selection. And as one of the main aims of the Focolare Movement is to build unity between Christian Churches, the Management Committee of the Methodist Modern Art Collection is delighted to have this opportunity to work ecumenically”.

The operational oversight of the Collection is deputed to the MMAC Management Committee. The Committee aims to work with young people and ecumenically, reach broad and diverse audiences, and promote the heritage of Methodism.

1 March - 7 April 2024

WELWYN GARDEN CITY
Deepening the Mystery: ‘unexpected treasures’ of art
Focolare Centre for Unity, 69 Parkway, Welwyn Garden City AL8 6JG

Programme available here

 

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MMAC Combined Annual Report (for years ending 31 August 2021, 2022 & 2023)

This report is a compilation of the annual reports of the Methodist Church’s activity relating to the Methodist Modern Art Collection for the three years ending 31 August 2021, 2022 and 2023.

The combined annual report covers activity relating to the Collection over the long tail of the Covid-19 pandemic and the gradual recovery since, demonstrating ongoing resilience during a difficult period for all. Alongside the uncertainty, delayed exhibitions, and overall challenges of this period, there have also been opportunities, positivity and many achievements.

We hope to build on these expressions of mission and have an exciting forward schedule of proposed exhibitions over the next few years. As new exhibitions are confirmed, details will be added to the MMAC webpages at The Collection on tour.

If you would like to request a hard copy of the combined annual report, please contact Liz Millard via email or on 020 7467 5214.

 

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