Visual Theology’s inaugural conference, ‘Transformative Looking Between the Visual Arts and Christian Doctrine (1850-Now)’, was held on 19th and 20th October 2018.
Hosted at the Bishop’s Palace, Chichester, West Sussex, with a conference dinner at the Chapel of the Ascension (Bishop Otter Campus, University of Chichester), and a tour of Chichester Cathedral’s artworks. Visual Theology I paid tribute to enduring engagement between theology and the arts in the region, looking to present innovative and leading research from curators, artists, church leaders, theologians, and art historians. As keynote speakers, we welcomed Professor John Harvey (Aberystwyth University), and Revd Dr. Ayla Lepine (Hampstead Parish Church, London), with Harvey’s presentation including a performance of a sound work based upon Habakkuk 2: 2-3 composed especially for the conference. The programme also included the commissioned performance of Sara Mark’s piece LAVANT 2018 with Compline after the conference dinner, Professor Gill Clarke speaking about the Otter Collection at the University of Chichester, and Sheona Beaumont’s cyanotype installation Scriptorium in the Bishop’s Chapel at the Palace. The Call for Papers and final programme of speakers can be found here.
Visual Theology II: ‘Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites: Sacre Conversazioni‘ was held on 21st and 22nd September 2019.
Our venue was St Michael and All Angels Chapel, at Marlborough College in Wiltshire. In this his bicentenary year, our event brought John Ruskin into conversation with worship, art history, and contemporary art practice, overlooked by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope’s beautiful decorative scheme from 1883-1886. We were delighted to welcome Professor George P. Landow (Brown University) and Professor Colin Cruise (Aberystwyth University) as keynote presenters, as well as hosting a special conversation between curator Christopher Newall and the Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury. A key event in the programme was the Service of Rededication in the Chapel, reimagined by video artist and priest Mark Dean, whom we commissioned to engage with the original liturgy. Other details in the programme included a private viewing of Richard Shirley Smith at The Mount House Gallery, and an introduction to rare material from Marlborough College’s library archive. The Call for Papers and final programme of speakers can be found here.