Art spectacle shines on the walls of St Mary’s
Let’s face it. When one looks back at the past 12 months, it’s not exactly been a year full of hope and promise. There has been great divisiveness in society, both here and abroad. Enormous suffering that has forced millions of people to flee their homes, not to mention the departure of too many creative geniuses that, while leaving behind a great legacy, also left the world a poorer place.
So as 2016 draws to a close, there’s a choice. Give in to the gloom and doom or look towards coming together to create a more joyful, inclusive and optimistic future.
The latter is what Advent(us): Another World is Possible will be all about when it launches itself onto the Village in December. Or to put it more precisely, when it launches itself onto the exterior of St Mary’s Church each night until 24 of December.
Advent(us) is an ambitious, and what promises to be spectacular, project where the work of artists – from those of world renown to school kids who are just starting out – will be projected onto the south facing wall of St Mary’s during advent.
“Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means something is coming. I liked that because it’s not just about the re-telling of the birth of Jesus, but about looking forward,” says Cameron Conant (pictured below right) the instigator of Advent(us) and a founding member of the St Mary’s Art Collective, the prime mover behind the project.
“The church has this season called advent,’ says Cameron, “and I thought about an advent calendar and what if you projected an advent calendar onto the church. But I didn’t just want it to be about camels and a star. What if we pushed past that and thought differently; created something to bring people from all backgrounds together to think about what other world is possible.”
The project will see an incredibly eclectic array of artwork being projected onto the church’s wall, facing the Ancient House, for 24 consecutive nights between 6pm and 10pm. There will be hot drinks to accompany the lumier spectacle as well as a host of activities inside the church, ranging from live music performances to workshops for families.
The creative talent leading the project is prominent London based artist Gary Stewart (pictured left) who, besides creating visual work is also a sonic musician who as part of Dubmorphology, recently exhibited at the the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.
“There were things about Advent(us) that resonated with my own interests. My projects are often making the space a part of the work and a lot of direct engagement with the people coming to see it,” says Gary. “I like this idea of the public spectacle, the shared social thing when people come together and what happens when people from different communities join up; people who might normally only ever pass by one another.”
Gary is charged with pulling all the artists and work together, surely a Herculean task when one considers the range of personalities and temperaments you get when working with a bunch of creatives. “It’s not working to just one voice,” says Gary, “so it’s not essential for everyone to agree what they want to communicate. Ego becomes less important because it’s a different headspace when you’re doing a group show like this.”
It’s extremely unlikely that St Mary’s has seen anything quite like this in its 900-year history. So it’s probably a very good idea to grab a warm coat, put on your woolly hat and open yourself to a new experience. It just might make you feel a lot brighter and expectant about the year ahead.
Advent(us): Another World is Possible runs until 24 December, every night from 6-10pm at St Mary’s Church. You can find a schedule for the artists who will be exhibiting and a list of associated events at: www.walthamstowchurch.org.uk/st-marys-parish-announce-christmas-schedule-featuring-adventus-another-world-possible/
This article first appeared in the Winter 2016 edition of “The Village” magazine.