If you live in or around Bristol, then I strongly recommend that you check out this exhibition at the historic St John on the Wall church (in the crypt) in Broad Street. It runs from 27 July until 11 August 11am-2pm daily (why not come along to the preview at 6pm this Friday 29 July?).
It’s an exhibition with a difference…
past 12 months, a group of people have met in the church and/or the crypt at
11.30am-1.30pm every Tuesday… to draw or write poetry or take photographs. It’s
a very lovely, welcoming and diverse collection of individuals with a wide range of artistic
abilities, experience and backgrounds… led by the brilliant Charlotte Pain, a
wonderful artist in her own right (she would laugh at the description of her
“leading” the group!).
The exhibition consists of sketches that group members have undertaken
over the past year. Some people have some drawing or photographic experience
behind them (but, perhaps, have let the habit lapse?). Others have hardly
previously drawn at all. For some, it’s an opportunity to experiment. For some,
the group’s principal benefit is the group’s sociability.
I joined this lovely group a couple of months ago – anyone/everyone is
welcome to join – and have been incredibly impressed by the warmth of the
welcome and its non-judgemental approach to art and creativity.
This is what Charlotte wrote about the project and the group:
“This project is
about helping the public connect to buildings and locations. It is about
breathing a new breath of life into churches, bringing community back within
them and exploring their uses. It’s about getting people drawing and making.
It’s about a belief that creativity can help us to strengthen our voices,
nurture our mental health and help us connect to each other.
From a core
group of people who rarely miss a session to random visitors to the city who
have long left Bristol behind them, each drawing is a moment in the life of St
John’s and of the people who have walked through the doors. With the support
and open-mindedness of The Churches Conservation Trust the project has
We are a diverse
group of people who have developed a passion for St John’s and have spent many
hours drawing, photographing and admiring this special building. This is not
only a celebration, but an invitation to the rest of Bristol to join us”.
As you might realise,
Charlotte is a bit special!
I don’t want to embarrass people by highlighting their individual
talents or what they bring to the group but, hopefully, this will provide a
flavour: Mike has produced over 60 sketches over the past 12 months and his
friendliness encapsulates all that group stands for; Brian is another of those
gentle, generous, welcoming people and his photographs of the church are an
inspiration; David is a brilliant artist (especially his watercolours!) who can
draw beautifully and chat amusingly at the same time(!); Betty has been
something of a revelation for me – every week, she produces her simple,
intricate, pencil sketches (which remind me in some ways of Alfred Wallis’s
naïve artwork from St Ives)(I suspect this is the first time she’s drawn since
leaving school?); Jonathan loves coming to the group – he’s industrious,
friendly and enthusiastic; Chris is always smiling, chatty and an inveterate
photographer and drawer; Aran is
one of the lovely church volunteers who has been “drawn” into the group… and
then there’s also Christine, Anne-Marie and Dave etc etc.
Membership of the group is completely free so, if you fancy having an
excuse to do some drawing, then why not give it a try?
Please take an opportunity to pop into the
exhibition (and also to see the fascinating, 14th century church
Photo: some of the group working on the exhibition installation.
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