Crossings: Art and Christianity Now
9th February-10th May 2018 - Curated by Fr Matthew Askey
Another Language: Be kind Be needed Be loved
Another Language: Be kind Be needed Be loved at Southwell Minster for Crossings create a conversation across the centuries with the famous “Southwell Leaves” stone carvingsin the Chapter House - these ancient carvings are a medieval masterpiece of naturalistic carving in stone. John has invented a new language in the form of a font, inspired by the Nymans Garden where he has worked previously. Each letter in the alphabet is represented by a leaf or a flower and a simple sentence is spelled out here around 26 niches in the Chapter House. The key to the sentence can be found in the marble artwork of the whole alphabet John has installed at the centre of the Education Garden in the grounds of the Minster. There is a second artwork outside that connects the garden of the Chapter House carvings with the Education Garden in the Minster grounds.
John Newling says:
My work at Southwell Minster, in part, explores the affects that I believe organised religion has had on our relationship with Nature. This is, perhaps exemplified in a couple of examples from my Dear Nature letters. The ‘Letters to Nature’ works are an element of a current project in development.
In truth we slowly ignored you as our need for something greater than ourselves evolved the narratives and rituals of our religions. We could only find some sort of trust in reflections of ourselves.
But these are going now and we are left in the strangest nihilism without purpose and feeling; disconnected. If only we had understood that you were greater than we are. I think we needed to be needed for something but forgot where we were.
What to do?
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
This is my guilt and worry. We have filled the earth. We have subdued it. We do rule over it.
What is the cost to ourselves of subduing all that we seem to encounter? Yours is a vast history, ours is a blink in that history. Perhaps that’s where the hope lies in our geological youth; we are young and still learning.
I am sorry
My hope is that by introducing a different language into this beautiful space resonant with images of the natural world I may connect the text to the space through its visual history; a connection that seeks to continue our urgent conversation with Nature.