Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Baptised Imagination - a call for Papers - from Irish bards

A wonderful theme and a great invitation from some delightful Irish bards who have their own arts and faith group that has been running for a few years. I met them a couple of years ago at a Theology of the Body Conference in Maynooth and we've been looking forward to collaborating ever since. Sarah Roche sent me the following email and I've asked her to send more details which she is going to do very shortly, but here's the invite so you can get researching the theme if it interests you -

Abstracts are invited for contemporary art and Christianity conference to be held in the Spring of 2011 (exact date to be confirmed) at the Avila Centre for Spirituality, Dublin. The theme of the conference is The Baptised Imagination. (Abstracts of 250 words for 20-30 minute presentations.)
We are interested in submissions from across all artistic disciplines as well as relevant theological papers. This is the third in a series of conferences, primarily aimed at visual artists. An AGM of the group will be held after the presentations.

Further information and submissions: Baptisedimagination@gmail.com
m: (+353) 87 4108165

A bit of googling around the theme led me to this introduction to a PHD on the subject - The Baptised Imagination - The Theology of George MacDonald

The imagination has been called the principal organ for knowing and responding to disclosures of transcendent truth.

This book probes the theological sources of the imagination which makes it a vital and reliable tool for knowing and responding to such disclosures.

It approaches this study through focus on the theologian and imaginative writer George MacDonald. As a 19th Century pastor and writer, Macdonald contributed significantly in fostering theological understanding of the imagination.

He also modeled an imaginative way of communicating theological truth with transforming power to shape human lives, communities and the discipline of theology.

Furthermore, through his theological sensitivity to the imagination, he was able to speak prophetically in a number of areas of contemporary concern, such as the nature of suffering ageing and death, environmental degradation and gender issues.

Macdonald's marriage of imagination and theology emerged from a belief in God as loving Creator and Redeemer and his desire to follow Jesus Christ in all things. He was convinced that a fruitful imagination finds its inspiration in drinking from the wellsprings of God's infinite creativity.

Christ's image-rich manner of conveying his Father's nature and ways was compelling for MacDonald - who was concerned that theology had often become abstracted from imaginative forms and vision, producing husks that were not only hard to digest but also offered little nourishment for an obedient pilgrimage of faith.

MacDonald wrote to offer true food that could empower people to return to a loving father, feast at God's table and be strengthened to share in God's Kingdom work. Because he conveyed his theological convictions in such a refreshing and dynamic way, CS Lewis describes his first encounter with MacDonald's writing as 'converting', even baptising his imagination. Though a young atheist at the time, Lewis was captivated by the way goodness and even death was presented in the Phantastes. MacDonald later became significant in Lewis' pilgrimage of faith and inspired his own richly imaginative expressions of theology.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Welcome to The Bard School!

'The Bard School has been a light in the darkness for me and water in the desert.  It has sustained me in my calling as an artist and as a Christian.'  Karolina Stolarska, MA in philosophy and theology, developing as a poet, visual artist and creative facilitator.

'The Bard School is a place where I can gaze on the face of mystery, meet other Christian artists and rejoice in the image of the invisible God!'  Martin Earle, graduate of the Royal Academy, animator.

We are a group of Christian artists of all artistic genres from poetry to dance, from web-design to stained-glass window making, who are all committed to serving God and others through our art. 

Christians of all denominations are more than welcome to share and enrich our fellowship as well as those who are curious about the call to follow Christ.

We are exploring the idea that art can provide a prophetic witness in society, but for this witness to be authentic there must also be a deep journey of prayer and transformation on our own Christian journey. We are finding that the artistic process itself plays a decisive role;

'For the artist, art offers both a new dimension and an exceptional mode of expression for spiritual growth.' John Paul II
We have workshops which help us to understand the theology and philosophy which help to calibrate our artistic work and experience.

We encourage and support each other through prayer, as well as sharing practical skills on the marketing, business and production side of things.

The Bard School is not just a network, nor is it just a place to promote and advertise work; it is a dispersed community and a place for friendship and Christian renewal.  A participant at the workshop on October 23rd said, 'All the elements of nurturing the artistic and prophetic voice were here today: practical, intellectual, inspiring and full of authentic fellowship.' 

If you think The Bard School could help you in any of these areas and you could help to encourage and inform fellow bards similarly, then do consider coming along to some of the meetings that are generally on 4th Saturday of the month. Please click here to see when the next Bard School meeting is. If you’d like to know more then do feel free to call on 07849 641 899.

Sarah de Nordwall - a bard with a bard school


'The Bard School brought me into creative participation with other Christian artists. It works on different levels, being a catalyst for artistic practice within the Christian heart. It's been nurturing to be part of a community who understand the calling to be artists who want to engage creatively with God. This turns creativity into prayer and worship, mission and meditation, search and discovery.

Artists of all disciplines need support and opportunities from the Church (and Charity sector) to realize their gifts and to bring God's love, colour, form, light and wonder to his Church and the world He loves. Art has never been more liberated as it is now in the 21st Century and offers an extraordinary means to give form to the mysteries of God, the teachings of Christ and the Apostles. I believe the Church is the native home of Art and the Bard School should be an axis for this realization.'
Robert Enoch,
Installation Artist (Protestant)

'"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full". The Bard School made me feel more alive and enabled fellow artists to give each other life and joy. It also gave me great hope and encouragement for the future.'
Alex Haydon,
Catholic writer and assistant to a Catholic Member of Parliament

'Thank you for the joy that The Bard School inspires in all the artists that have joined. It has encouraged us to follow our artistic callings and conversion.'
Rebecca Jellie,
Visitor from New Zealand, teaching psychology and studying ballet and art

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Bard School returns!

The sabbatical comes to a close and Bard School re-gathers on 25th September in St Mary of the Angels, Bayswater. 

You can walk to St Mary of the Angels from Notting Hill Gate in less than 10 mins, passing through some of the most beautiful streets in London (an artist’s date in itself). It’s not far from Portobello Road with its famous market and it’s also just over the road from a cosy little pub. You can find the church on Google Maps here.