Paul Hobbs brought an exhibition of painting and sculpture to the Theatre foyer for a week, leading classes and groups to discuss the artworks. Broadly covering issues of faith in contemporary society, the images looked at compassion towards the vulnerable, violence and blame, familial relationships and the value of the individual, as well as more directly Christian texts.
News articles were collaged into several of the images, anchoring the artwork in recent events. A collection of shoes and stories from Christians around the world were arranged in the Memorial Arch Chapel, and proved a provocative way of learning how people had encountered God in diverse contexts.
The exhibition included a range of artistic styles, including painting, collage, installation, assemblage; and one or two pieces were inter-active. There were re-workings of traditional icons, a machete in a box, a woven cloth and a dartboard. Together these artworks provided plenty to intrigue, amuse and challenge the viewer, with each image containing layers of meaning to be found by those with eyes to see and ears to hear.
Paul spoke three times in Chapel on themes of suffering and faith, betrayal and forgiveness, and the Beatitudes, using a different artwork each time. These subjects were explored against the backdrop of a lynching in Northern Ireland, persecution of Christians in Soviet Russia, and the challenge to consider whether Christ’s words are just for children, or essential building blocks for life.
In all, Paul showed the Christian faith’s relevance to the complex world in which we live, the interplay between news stories and biblical texts, and how real faith responds to and challenges the culture around it.