Chester


A restful day in Chester provided an opportunity to really walk! Three of us set off along the old city wall toward Chester Cathedral where we spent an hour.


The oldest visible part of the cathedral was built in 1100. Here’s the arch dating from that time


But among the ancient stone and old stained glass were examples of modern glass and modern art. Here are three beautiful examples of modern stained glass installed in 1992. Sorry, I did not record the artist’s name:


We discovered a beautiful enclosed Cloister Garden with a stunning representation of the woman at the well (John 4) set within a pool of water graced with waterlilies. Somehow, the great sweep of the woman’s gesture as if she has leapt out of the water, takes your breath away. Here it seems she has done the audacious thing, and Jesus is receiving from her. The living water flows between them. The sculpture “Water of Life” by Stephen Broadbent was installed in 1994.


Chester is a Tudor town which hosts a festival of Medieval Mystery cycle plays every 5 years. The next is not until 2013. Meanwhile we got the sense that history is ever present in the town as we heard the town crier calling at midday from our balcony lunch spot.

Location:Briggate,Leeds,United Kingdom

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Wild Things at Greenbelt

Finally after three days immersion in the festival at Greenbelt i lift my heavd and remember to blog and share some of my experiences with you. Greenbelt is a huge Christian arts festival and I’ve spent many hours taking in talks on Emergent Christianity from the likes of Phyllis Tickle (vibrant 78 year old American church historian) to Pete Rollins, a philosopher, theologian Gen Xer with a blistering intellect. Both share a remarkable ability to articulate what is emerging. But you know after all that intellectual stimulation I was ready for something concrete and Wild!


The Hub was a multiple age arts space where people could book in and make headgear from corrugated cardboard, do linoprinting and other arts activities. The theme this year was Where the Wild Things Are. I made a head dress and wore it to the wild rumpus,


but bequeathed it to a new friend rather than travel with it.


I was impressed with how the artists in the space presented and taught the techniques, and had clearly thought through how to break up the activities to be achievable in the time with a range of ages. For example, the linoprinting was set up so that you only needed to cut into a small piece of lino, creating a head, body or legs, then choose from a big selection of other cuts to build up your own Wild Thing, inking and printing three sections. Enjoy the photos and video!

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Location:St Paul’s Ln,Cheltenham,United Kingdom

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Shanti, shalom, peace

The Sanctuary group from Birmingham http://www.eastandwest.co.uk/sanctuary.html offered meditative worship at Greenbelt one afternoon. A beautiful peaceful set up provided a gentle space for worship that took the form of a healing service.

With a high population of British Indians living in Birmingham, Sanctuary has developed forms of worship which bring east and west together. At Greenbelt they presented a cross cultural experience reflecting their cultural diversity. We entered to sitar music. The worship leader dressed in Indian kurta welcomed us, led us in prayer and introduced the theme, reflections on the story of the Prodigal Son. Members of the Sanctum team told the story divided between three voices all speaking in a meditative tone. We were invited to make connections between our own lives and the biblical story. Throughout the thread of the sitar held everything together. Using a variety of elemental processes (placing a stone onto a painted cross, lighting a candle, eating Indian sweets) we were able to make symbolic action in response and to support our prayer. The Sanctum team offered a ministry of prayer and anointing with oil for those who chose. And choice was a mark of this worship service. Many options were given and freedom to choose between them.

I slipped easily and comfortably into prayer here. The gentle invitations met my particular heart ache that day. One marker that has become significant for me is the inclusion of other languages in worship. Here was spoken Hindi along with English, at every time a spiritual term was expressed. Shanti, shalom, peace…..

Finally I should mention the video projection of film image, a constant visual reminder of India. What I liked about the video projection was it slightly undercut the serenity and reverence established in the room. The speed and lightness of the video images gave a wider, global frame to what we were doing, sometimes unexpectedly tying in with the story or prayer, other times presenting a contrast.


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Musee Quai Branly

The Artfullblogger is suffering gallery legs and blistered feet after today’s excursion to this remarkable new gallery designed by Jean Nouvel, opened in June 2006. The building is softened by beautiful gardens and vertical walls of vegetation,designed by Patrick Blanc. The building houses a vast collection of objects from ethnographic expeditions, “where cultures meet in dialogue”. The building was opened by Jacques Chirac with lofty ideals for justice and peace through such dialogue. However i found it difficult to simply bypass the history of colonialism and the process of acquisition of cultural objects taken in the name of ethnographic research. I was particularly taken by ancient Mayan and Mexican clay objects, a beautiful tapa,(first image) and Australian aboriginal paintings from the Central Desert.


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Location:Paris

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Paris Galleries

Paris galleries are such a huge part of my idea of Paris. Yesterday I visited the Orangeries which has a wonderful collection of early twentieth century art. I enjoyed the Monet waterlilies, and magnificent nudes by Picasso, strange writhing houses by Soutine, and many other works by Rousseau, Derain, Modigliani and rather too many Renoirs! At the Gallery Guimet a highlight was finding the remarkable work by contemporary Indian American artist Rina Banerjee placed among exotic antiquities. There were works on paper, utilizing old architectural drawings as a base with ink drawings embellished with sequins. The installations were amazing and very whimsical. The pink Taj Mahal installed in the centre of the ground floor gallery. Rina Banerjee moved from a science career in plastics to become an artist and explains her skill manipulating materials.

Check out this video on YouTube:

And check out some images here:

http://rinabanerjee.com/home.html

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Location:Paris, France

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From Crypt to roof and tower

Over the course of one week our group has had the time to really get to know the cathedral intimately. Sue Hollingsworth says the cathedral is like an old friend, one whom you can drop in on for a cup of tea. We have had entry to secret parts of the cathedral, from crypt to roof and tower. We have been introduced to the bishop Fulburtus, who built the crypt and we sang the Chorus Novae he composed in the crypt. The music resounded in the deep stones. Then our guide took us high up to explain the construction of flying buttresses and the conservation of stained glass windows. We were then shown the interior cast iron structure supporting the copper roof which was inserted into the cathedral after a fire. We walked the famous labyrinth, and sang Donne Nobis Pacem within the cathedral. The first image shows the town spread out below the cathedral.


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Location:Chartres Cathedral, France

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Divine Sadness

Roi Gal-Or introduces the story of Noah. God is moved to sadness by seeing all the evil done by men, that he desires to destroy everything created. But there was Noah….

During the telling a large tour group entered the square just at the moment Roi was describing the animals entering the ark two by two. And just at the point in the story when Noah sends out the animals to leave the ark: “Go out and multiply”, the tour group moved on, right on cue. These delightful moments were not uncommon. We enjoyed the challenge to be open to improvise with whatever unexpected events occurred.


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Location:Chartres Cathedral, France

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Abraham

Marte told the story of Abraham and Sarah, and the sacrifice of Isaac, one of the most heart wrenching stories in the Bible, to my mind. We saw the dedication and trust Abraham had in God, and the trust Isaac had in his father. Marte had a marvelous range of facial expressions, some of which I captured in still photos. Her story is framed by the North Portal.

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Location:Chartres Cathedral, France

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Creation Story

Eric L. Foxman of Northwest USA told the Creation Story from Genesis. The clip shows the creation of one day, and the reaction of a couple of angels looking on! Eric is a first time participant in an International School of Storytelling course. You will see that we tell these stories around the cathedral and in the portals with tourists, pilgrims and beggars passing by. Sometimes the teller needs to incorporate an interruption.


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Location:Chartres Cathedral, France

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Sculpture stories told in the portals

Such a great panoply of saints and prophets flank the portals of the cathedral. Biblical and apocryphal stories rise up in the curved arches and across the door lintels. Each figure is carved with such skill and it is intriguing to see on the pediment under its feet, some aspect of the figure’s story represented. On our first day here at the cathedral I did not venture into the cathedral interior at all as the exterior sculptures were engrossing. We began our storytelling in the north portal and I will be posting some short clips from among them.


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