The pattern of the Stations of the Cross goes back to a discipline initiated by St Francis in the early 13th century. That pattern offers a number of stopping places or stations to reflect on the journey of Jesus from his being sentenced to death to his crucifixion and resurrection. The ‘pattern’ provides a way of reflecting on our individual lives from that moment when we recognise that we are mortal through to and beyond our death. No easy answers are provided… to participate in the reflective journey is a discipline that helps us to live an intentional life.
Each year we invite a number of artists to participate in the project; they are randomly allocated a particular station, offered a pastorally informed commentary as a brief for their work, (the particular brief for each artist is placed alongside the image in the catalogue,) and then the artist is given the freedom to use their artistic discipline to address the questions in ways appropriate for them.
The exhibited works are not so much about illustration of the journey, as an engagement of the emotions and issues raised by the journey in contemporary living.
For me as curator, each year there is an excitement as the completed works are assembled and fresh ways of viewing old questions come to light. And it continually intrigues me how artists working separately offer works that speak to each other and create a very special environment for engagement and reflection. We thank each of the artist for the gift their contribution is to this exhibition.
The cooperation between the Northmead Creative and Performing Arts High School and the Northmead Uniting Church is an important part of this exhibition. Bringing the works of leading Australian artists into the school enhances the educational possibilities for students through both the technical quality of the artist’s works, and, the willingness of the artists to wrestle significant existential questions with integrity.
This year that cooperation includes the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Canberra, where the works are also being shown. In this setting we hope the exhibition offers the stimulus for a significant conversation around the important questions shaped by lived experience
How to look…. The best way is to begin at station number 1 and follow the sequence to station 16. Don’t try too hard to understand or know. There isn’t a right and a wrong way to look. Enjoy looking and being in the presence of the work. Be aware of the physical sensations you experience as you look. Name what you see and what you feel, what questions you have, what you think, and any connections you make with life. Choose a couple of stations to go back and spend more time with. Share your thoughts with a friend.
It is a very special exhibition! Enjoy!
Rev Dr Douglas Purnell OAM (co-curator)
16 Leading Artists
Greg O’Brien (New Zealand)
Emmanuel Garibay (Philippines)
Catherine Kapikian (USA)
Narelle Vazquez, Principal Northmead CAPAHS:
The Stations of the Cross is a wonderful exhibition that has many positive influences on our school community. Through the work of Doug Purnell and our outstanding Visual Arts teacher, Christopher Auckett , this exhibition brings Art alive for our students. It adds to the creative arts focus of the school and creates an environment where students can immerse themselves in Art and have the opportunity to see the works of some of Australia’s leading artists. The exhibition brings the real world of Art into the daily life of students and inspires them in their quest for the development of their skills. The exhibition connects with the students love of art and inspires them to pursue Art in their tertiary studies. Eighteen students are currently studying Fine Art or Visual Design since the exhibition’s inception. One could say it has been a life changing experience for them. This has been a fabulous experience for our students and school to work in partnership with the Northmead Uniting Church strengthening our partnership in the wider community in promoting Art.
Niall Reid, Minister Northmead UCA
Northmead Uniting Church in co-sponsoring the Stations of the Cross with Northmead Creative and Performing Arts High School and the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Canberra, recognises and values the multifaceted nature of an exhibition that:
- presents the biblical and customary Christian accounts of Easter from a fresh and contemporary perspective through the medium of art;
- engages students, artists and ordinary people with a foundational story of Western Culture that infuses art, literature, law, ethics and so much of everyday life and thinking;
- gives people of faith and those with none a different sort of space or context to reflect on, re-envision and possibly even assimilate the Christ story with their own story.
Stephen Pickard, Executive Director ACCC
The Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture is delighted to be the Canberra host for the Stations of the Cross Art Exhibition in 2017. The Centre has a special focus on creativity through the arts and culture. And what better way to address this than by holding an art exhibition in the lead up to Easter on the Stations of the Cross. This will be the third art exhibition the Centre has hosted in the past 12 months and it has been a great encouragement to many hundreds of people to see the Centre being used to showcase the work of leading Australian artists. The works are inspiring, challenging and engaging. They are a wonderful media through which the important issues and questions are raised about life, faith and meaning in todays world. We are particularly grateful to the Rev’d Dr Doug Purnell who has organised and curated this exhibition.