CALL TO HOLY GROUND Commissioned by Art and Christianity
photographs by Nikki McClarron and Ale Tarraf
Call to Holy Ground
17 May – 17 July 2021
Call to Holy Ground, is an exploration of nature, sanctuary and belief echoing the concept of trinity found in both Christianity and Hinduism, comprising installations in a church and temple, a sound pilgrimage through the fringes of Epping Forest, and a video work. Call to Holy Ground is a call to create a new scripture of the earth between faiths, generations and across cultures, an alternative ‘common ground’ or collective field of trust, sanctuary in nature and hope for a sustainable future.
Commissioned by Art + Christianity, Call to Holy Ground is made in collaboration with women elders from the communities of St Andrew’s Church and Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu temple in Leytonstone in north-east London. Call to Holy Ground opens on 17 May, the week leading up to Pentecost, and closes just after Ratha Yatra, a major Hindu festival associated with Lord Vishnu.
Situated in a side chapel of St Andrew’s Church, the area in churches usually reserved for holy relics, hangs a large-scale installation, a cloak-like sculptural cosmology in three parts made from fabric, hide, oak, wax, mirrors, scrolls and seeds. Referencing the elemental connections between faith and nature and given a formal blessing, the piece contains offerings of intention in English and Sanskrit, from fragments of conversation and story from the community of elders.
Also within the side chapel at St Andrew’s Church, a video projected on a waxed surface shows a series of ritualistic gestures, songs and sounds performed by individual elders and Fourthland in the ancient woodland, heaths and waterways of Epping Forest. Bridging spiritual and ecological practices, the work draws together the processes of ‘forming the new scripture’ and the importance of the everyday sacred act, in a larger constellation of actions. In the Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu temple, an installation in the form of a portable shrine comprising an object made from fabric, wax and other materials, on top of which is a glass vessel containing water from the rivers Ganges and Lea, inspired by ceremonial water offerings. Like the Ganges, the nearby river Lea also has ancient mythical associations linked with Celtic deity worship.
Connecting church and temple, across an outlying fragment of Epping Forest, visitors are invited to participate in an immersive sound work whilst walking through the woods between the two sites. The piece creates a collective sacred experience as a meditative action spoken by the artists, alongside echoes of stories, chants, songs and poems collected from the elders.
Art and Christianity is the UK's leading organisation in the field of art and faith. Their projects encourage and support high quality contemporary art in churches, demonstrate best practice in commissioning and installing art in churches, and foster links between visual artists and churches. Past projects include installations at St Paul’s Cathedral and numerous parish churches, and feature artists such as Yoko Ono and Rebecca Horn.
Call to Holy Ground is made with support from Tara Khare of Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu temple and Fr Paul Kennington of St Andrew’s Church. Holy Ground is an interfaith art project commissioned by Art + Christianity that develops relationships established with churches and artists in the London Borough of Walthamstow Year of Culture in 2019.
Performances for video work, filmed by Nikki McClarron and Alejandro Tarraf
Location and opening times
Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays 11am - 3pm
St Andrew’s Church, 153 Colworth Rd, Leytonstone, London E11 1JD
Call to Holy Ground opening hours:
Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu, 159-161 Whipps Cross Rd, Leytonstone, London E11 1NP
Call to Holy Ground sound walk, download from www.artandchristianity.org from 17 May.
Call to Holy Ground video, available at www.artandchristianity.org
TO READ MORE ABOUT THIS PROJECT, VISIT HERE