- Nationalism = Dangerous
- What is Englishness?
- Is this question relevant now?
- What is the difference between Englishness and Britishness?
- Why do people find it important to define Englishness/Britishness?
- Is it important to have a national identity?
- Is Englishness cultural?
- Is Englishness religious?
- Is Englishness political?
- Is Englishness economic?
- Is Englishness social?
- Is Englishness active?
- Can architecture define what Englishness is?
On the 24th September 2015 I attended The Betjeman Society’s meeting: John Betjeman Saving Churches. Here are some notes from the two presentations by the Churches Conservation Trust & the National Churches Trust.
- John Betjeman enthusiasm and importance for the English parish church.
- Love of the church enthused by a very deep anglican belief.
- Going into a church and being brought to his knees by the beauty of it. A sinful believer. He went into a church for two reasons: appreciate the architecture and what it stood for/ represented/ role of the church in English history and what it stands for.
- Love of Victorian and 18th Century architecture.
- Didn’t like over restoration.
- John Betjeman preservation of English architecture.
- The single most influential voice in the preservation movement.
- Betjeman writings still very relevant in terms of what is happening in the anglican church today: desire to close churches: the burden of the parish church.
- Betjeman and his poetry: his faith wasn’t a private matter he declared his christian faith using: poetry, magazines, television and newspapers.
- Celebrated and social and aesthetic joys of anglicanism.
- The physical and spatial spaces of its churches and joy of its literurgy.
- Role in providing a cultural identity for the British people.
- He made a connection between anglicanism and Englishness.
- 1943 radio address of Nazi invasion memory of his churches. Ideas of Englishness embedded in church imagery. “For me England stands for the Church of England, eccentric incumbents, oil-lit churches, women’s institutes, modest village inns, arguments about cow parsley on the altar”.
- His poems are about faith and the spiritual they are sites of worship not just architecture.
- 1937 essay a spiritual change is one hope for art: a drift towards ugliness and looking back on the last 100 years problems are the increasing population, mass production and the absence of a uniting faith.
- “the machine is discredited god is discredited, human nature is discredited, we are turning ourselves into the material in which slaves are made. time slaves, machine slaves and money slaves.”
- His poetry and his work to preserve churches are about a mourning of lost community in church and embraces a hope that the church will survive.
- Anglican church that survives as it is a communal identity shared by people whether or not you worship or believe.
- Remembering the churches even if they are not there is vital to cultural identity. “community is threatened when the Church is threatened, for the Church is a spirit that breathes life into a society.”
A compulsive hoarder is probably too strong a term to describe myself, but I do like to keep things, and enjoy spending my studio practice time archiving and labelling them in my various folders, files and boxes.
To sit on the floor or at my desk and look, remember and revisit the concert, movie, play, museum or exhibition. Who knows what will happen to them when my demise comes. Will anyone care? The majority of them are some form of paper: a ticket, handout or postcard. But no matter how hard I try to cull my collection these things need to be kept and archived. It is something that is fundamental to my practice but also in some way a process as I try to make sense of time.
In August I started my residency at The Florence Trust in London. Currently, I am trying to work out my surroundings and how my collections fit into this place. I have begun researching the architectural history of St Saviours Church, skimming books on Gothic Revival Architecture. Somewhere, in my parents cellar, I know that there is a box full of old photographs and slides of various churches and their interiors I think this might be my next starting point.
The Sphæræ was designed by artist Cocky Eek and we were lucky enough to be the first artists to use the inflatable structure to play, experiment and test things out in.
I used this opportunity to rework my BA graduation video footage, shot at the Eden Project, Cornwall. I was struck by the architectural similarity of the biodomes and the Sphæræ.
I performed my piece – Eden – live in the Sphæræ at the festival Kunstvlaai Inexacltly This in 2012.