The Group Monthly letter – May 2011

by Geoff Hall on May 26, 2011

May, 2011. Reflections from the Tree House

Mentoring support for those involved in word,
 image and performance arts

Dear Arts Mentoring Group, 

Having clambered down the Tree House rope-ladder last week, my thoughts were stirred by what I’d seen and heard. It was good to see the basement packed to the rafters as we considered how faith informs our work as artists, how we develop our style and who are influences are.

We often conflate faith with ‘religious’ and end up judging art by its content, namely its christian symbolism and ecclesiastical truthfulness, as if first and foremost the artist has to be a good theologian – although that is what William Dyrness suggests in his book ‘Visual Faith’! 

Faith is the direction of our heart towards God and towards Creation. To confuse spirituality with religion reminds me of a saying from Saint Bono of Vox “Religion to me is almost like when God leaves – and then people devise a set of rules to fill the space.”

Our spirituality is not fixed by the institution, but it is our life, every bit of our life from the time we are naked in the shower, to the time we work in our studio or study and then onward to when our head hits the pillow – that and everything in between. The work we produce is part of that wonderful journey, not an extra bit added on, or something we can ‘feel’ when we leave everything else, ‘all worldly pleasures’ behind.

Art which is locked into institutional needs, communicates by code and signs instead of being a visual metaphor for something life-enriching. It is intellectualised, dry, set in the sediment of dogma. An art that is free shuns this imprisonment and roams freely, taking inspiration from beauty and mystery in this world, adding a little ugliness or tension perhaps, but all the way offering something quite different from the visions of Postmodern Nihilism.

I was also taken by those who shared their work, Heather, Tony, Chris, Marco and Deborah and how this thing we call style develops over time in conversation with other artists. I loved their commitment to excellence! 

As we articulate we begin to understand ourselves more, we begin to perceive gaps in our thinking, style elements which need a little modification. Articulation helps us develop artistic knowledge, but also knowledge of who we are and what we are here for. Sometimes this is gained by the generous thoughtfulness of other artist who we never meet, but ponder and gaze upon their work, check out statements about their practice and then there is The Group and the Tree House and how we learn from one another, in serving one another. For at the end of the day, art is not about self-realisation or self-expression, but about sacrifice and service. 

Thank you to all who contributed to a great evening and for those in attendance, who like me were amazed by the visions set before us, with a pinch of humorous salt thrown in for good measure.

Peace and Love to you all,

People who attended the Tree House have asked me about checking out Chris Lorensson’s video on the Framework for Mystery again. You can find it at

One comment

I really like the quote from St Bono

by James Bragg on May 31, 2011 at 9:14 pm. Reply #

Leave your comment


Required. Not published.

If you have one.