‘Together we can wander and wonder, allow space for unknown questions to rise within, to release the need for answers, to encounter mystery.’ (Chapter One ‘Explore’)
As part of a blog tour, I’ve been given the privilege of sharing my feelings about Ann Clifford’s book Where is God in Our 21st Century World? As a writer I’ve always been more attracted to words than pictures. I’ve never really been someone who would pick up a book of art rather than read a magazine or paper.
I think this might be the book that changes that.
Where is God in our 21st Century World? is the limited edition book that accompanies the Chaiya Art Awards exhibition. It sandwiches beautiful coloured plates with a collection of meditations by author, Ann Clifford, on the themes which resonated through the exhibition. With eight chapters, there is months worth of material, so I flipped to the chapter that spoke with one word.
Looking through the chapter ‘Broken’, my eye was caught by one particular piece – Admitting the Possibilities of Error #5, by Kirsten Lavers. It’s hard to see the detail in a small picture such as this one – which makes the side point that it is well worth buying the book, because a computer screen just can’t do it justice.
The concept behind the piece is that, whilst the outer rim is begun as a perfect circle, each line further in takes note of the minor flaws, making a feature of them, thus adding to the beauty of what becomes a living piece.
For me, that’s a reflection of life – the scars, errors and flaws are what make us who we are. As the artist says, mistakes document learning, discovery and reconciliation. The nod to the ‘golden repair’ of Kintsugi (the art of mending broken pottery with precious metals, thus beautifying the breaks) brings an added poignancy. And as Lavers says, ‘accepting ourselves allows acceptance of others.’
Not everyone will like every picture included in this book. Some people will like hardly any, and some people won’t bother trying because they aren’t ‘arty’ people.
Somewhat by definition, a coffee table book is intended for dipping into. But I don’t think that anyone could look through this book without being touched in some way. A picture paints a thousand words, so the saying goes. But what it can also do – and has done – is speak when we have no words at all.
But it turns out that even through what we would call aimless flicking, God can speak. While making a guest a cup of tea, they have the opportunity to find a picture that speaks to them. A picture that speaks a thousand words.
Where is God in our 21stCentury World? by Ann Clifford was published by Instant Apostle on 21September 2018. It is available from bookshops, online retailers and the Chaiya Art Awards website