Churches host art exhibitions

Vice-Chair of EDAN, Jean Lowes at the launch of Events as part of the Festival of the North East.

Vice-Chair of EDAN, Jean Lowes at the launch of Events as part of the Festival of the North East.

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ART lovers can a-praise a showcase of work by a creative collective.

Three churches are exhibiting a total of 150 pieces made by the members of East Durham Artists’ Network (Edan), with the North East’s Christian history and the Lindisfarne Gospels among the items used as inspiration for the show.

Nature and East Durham’s beauty spots, including Castle Eden Dene, have also provided the artists with ideas.

The project is part of the Festival of the North East, which is running events across the region.

Fifty of the exhibits have been made especially for the displays, which are touring St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Houghton, St Andrew’s Church in Roker and Sunderland Minster.

The pieces include calligraphy, paintings, collages, ceramics, a carpet, wall hangings, wood sculpture, calligraphic paintings, glass engraving, poetry and a collection of staves, inspired by its writers’ group. Jean Lowes, who is among the artists, said: “We were talking about a year ago about the Festival of the North East in conjunction with the Lindisfarne Gospels.

“It’s all ecclesiastic and so if you go in, the exhibition is harmonious with the church.

“It’s a relief it’s now in place because of all the work that has gone into it and we’ve had no funding it’s all been done ourselves.

“All the artists have responded to it in a really good way.”

Jac Howard, from Seaham, who has created a boat using wood gathered from the sands of Seaham, said: “It seems fitting my boat is assembled from flotsam and jetsam of this coast.

“When art is exhibited in a white space, it can be a very restrictive audience that comes to see it, so it‘s wonderful to take it out to the public, and the church-going public, to see it exhibited in a space that inspired the making of the work itself.”

The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, the Dean of Durham, attended the launch event at St Michael’s.

He said: “It’s a wonderful example of how churches can be hospitable to art of all kinds.

“We want to encourage it more because, although art is wonderful in galleries and museums, when art comes into a church we begin to see it differently in a way which is enriched by the spirituality of the place.”

Exhibition curator said Phil Barker said: “It’s about getting art away from the white wall gallery which is traditional and putting it in more unusual venues.”