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Contemporary art presented in a sacred space

Andrea Simpson

A free exhibition delivered by Perth Uniting Church invites 15 WA-based artists to reflect on the 15 Stations of the Cross – with inspiring results.
Contemporary art presented in a sacred space

Pia Mater, digital print on lightbox transparency, print dimensions 135 x 88cm in site specific installation. Station number Four, 2017, by artist Nathan Beard.

A tradition that has inspired the world’s greatest artists – from Renaissance artist Raphael to French painter Gustave Doré – is celebrated in the 2018 Stations of the Cross Art Exhibition.

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‘This is a very old tradition and artists have been responding to those Stations for a long time,’ Claire Bushby, Curator of 2018 Stations of the Cross Art Exhibition, told ArtsHub.

Galvanised by the first Christian pilgrimages that followed the path Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion, the exhibition asks specific artists to respond to a particular point of the journey.

‘The idea is to bring this tradition into contemporary times,’ Bushby explained. ‘We asked contemporary artists to respond to the Stations but in a new way, a way that relates to our current times.’

Now in its ninth iteration, the 2018 Stations of the Cross Art Exhibition is held at the historic Wesley Uniting Church in Perth’s CBD. The exhibition is free to view and opens to the public on Saturday 24 March, running until Monday 9 April.

Each year, Bushby selects artists for the exhibition. Importantly, they do not have to follow the Christian faith. Indeed, the open nature of the exhibition allows for different perspectives on tradition and faith.

Bushby said, ‘We have had quite a few multi-faith artists. We have had previous artists with Muslim backgrounds or Buddhist background – artists who can bring something new to it. We encourage different religious backgrounds, or people who don’t even have a belief.

‘One of the most interesting things is when you ask someone who is not steeped in the religion to have a look at a Station, and they will bring a whole new perspective that we haven’t thought about before.’

Universal ideas and themes are examined throughout the exhibition while the church environment inspires some bold and thought-provoking art works.  

‘I am looking at artists who perhaps have elements of the Stations already in their practice. This doesn’t mean they’re working from a Christian perspective, rather the Stations are talking about things like loss and discrimination. They are all universal themes – like grief,’ she said.

A popular annual Perth exhibition, each year sees new and old visitors walk through the church doors, ensuring the art works can be interpreted in a myriad of ways from countless differing viewpoints.

As part of the exhibition program an Industry Forum will be held at Wesley Uniting Church on Wednesday 28 March at 6pm. Three of the artists featured in this year’s exhibition will illuminate their practice in open dialogue with audience members.

‘The artists that will appear at the Forum are Olga Cironis, Peter Farmer and Ruth Halbert,’ Bushby said. ‘On the night we will be discussing each artist’s particular way they approached their Station.

‘I really encourage people who might not normally go to a church to come in and have a look because it’s such a different and intriguing experience,’ Bushby concluded.

The artists and their Stations

Station 1: Jesus is Condemned to Die by Peter & Molly

Station 2: Jesus Carries His Cross by Shannon Calcott

Station 3: Jesus Falls the First Time by Joni Sercombe

Station 4: Jesus Meets His Mother by Helen Seiver

Station 5: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross by Peter Farmer

Station 6: Veronica Wipes Jesus' Face by Ruth Halbert

Station 7: Jesus Falls the Second Time by Clare Peake

Station 8: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem by Gemma Ben-Ary

Station 9: Jesus Falls the Third Time by Olga Cironis

Station 10: Jesus is Stripped by Dawn Gamblen

Station 11: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross (The Crucifixion) by Philip Gamblen

Station 12: Jesus Dies on the Cross by Kim Hyunji

Station 13: Jesus' Body is Taken Down from the Cross by Andrew Nicholls

Station 14: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb (The Deposition or Lamentation) by Denise Pepper

Station 15: Jesus Rises from Death (The Resurrection) by Aliesha Mafrici

To learn more about the Stations of the Cross exhibition visit: http://perthunitingchurch.org.au/stations-of-the-cross

About the author

Andrea Simpson is an ArtsHub staff writer.

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