Thursday, September 19, 2013

Art in the south transept

click photo to enlarge

I tend to be disappointed if I turn up at a church that I want to look around and I find it being used for an exhibition by the local art group. It means that the the fabric of the structure is obscured by paintings, pottery, screens and sculpture and I don't see it in the way it appears on most days of the year - as an old building fitted out for worship and the rites of the Christian religion. It's not that I have anything against art, or the desire of people to exhibit or view the products of enthusiasts. And I do appreciate that the church often seeks to be a hub of the community in which it sits, and that such events help it to fulfil that function. Rather, it is my selfish desire to view the church as I would like to see it and my feeling of being thwarted. Of course, if it's a church that is reasonably local to me then I can easily turn up on a different day and indulge my interests. However, if it's a building that I visit on holiday or when I'm travelling, then it feels like a once in a lifetime opportunity is lost to me.

I feel the same way about churches that are full of decorated trees at Christmas but not about a building decked out for harvest festival, all wheat sheaves, marrows, tinned food, fruit and vases of chrysanthemums. Why? Well, the former feels like a modern gimmick designed to attract an audience whereas harvest festival is a centuries old religious celebration and thanksgiving that has endured. On a recent visit to Newark we came upon an exhibition of art in the south transept of the town's major church. St Mary Magdalene is a large and beautiful parish church and, fortunately, it could easily swallow up a small exhibition of this sort so my usual feelings of disappointment lay dormant. I had a look at the artwork - fabric with photographic representations of famous pieces of religious art printed on them to which had been added the artist's contribution, sometimes graphical, sometimes text. The offerings didn't appeal to me but the lighting of the location did - photographically speaking. The low sun and clear glass of the transept window made the interior space very bright; much more so than is usual. Strong shadows contrasted with glowing patches of light. It was a recipe that suggested a photograph so I took one of my wife viewing the artwork.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 13.3mm (36mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/40
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation:  -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On