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Vicar follows his art across Europe

Rev Jonathan Evens at St. John's Church Rev Jonathan Evens at St. John's Church

Sunday, August 10, 2014
9:01 AM

A vicar has been travelling across Europe to uncover the relationship between art and the church.

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Artwork at Belsey Bridge conference centre, which Jonathan Evens visited last week. Pic: Jonathan EvensArtwork at Belsey Bridge conference centre, which Jonathan Evens visited last week. Pic: Jonathan Evens

The Rev Jonathan Evens, from St John the Evangelist in Seven Kings, is on a three month sabbatical.

The vicar has been touring churches in England as well as Belgium, France and Switzerland to see works of modern and contemporary art which have been commissioned by the church through the years.

Jonathan, who is due to return later this month, said: “The commissions that I have seen during this sabbatical tell a story of a continuing engagement by the church with contemporary art from the post-impressionists to the present day.

“This engagement has often been contentious and contested but it has nevertheless been a continuing relationship involving both mainstream artists with a Christian faith and church commissions undertaken by mainstream artists who have not professed the faith.

St Margaret's church in Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, which Jonathan Evens visited last week. Pic: Jonathan EvensSt Margaret's church in Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, which Jonathan Evens visited last week. Pic: Jonathan Evens

“This story is not one which has been well told, either by the church or the mainstream art world.

“There are many reasons for this on both sides but my concern in making this story the focus of my sabbatical has been to encourage the church to tell and to value this story.”

As well as being a parish priest, Jonathan is also a member of commission4mission, a group of artists which focus on creating art trails and publicising church artworks.

The priest has been sharing his experiences through his blog, hoping to inspire artists within the church.

During his pilgrimage, he has seen work by a wide range of artists including Jean Bazaine, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Henry Moore, Tom Phillips, John Piper and Graham Sutherland.

“The commissions I have seen speak powerfully and movingly of the Christian faith and therefore also inform the spirituality of those who see them,” said Jonathan.

“My hope is that others will find these commissions and the continuing story of church commissions as inspirational as I have done.”

To see more photos from Jonathan’s trip, visit his blog joninbetween.blogsport.co.uk.

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