CALL TO HOLY GROUND, London 2021
Exhibition May - July 2021, St Andrew's Church and Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu Temple
Call to Holy Ground is a site-specific exploration of nature, sanctuary and belief in Christianity and Hinduism through sculptural and video installations in church and temple, and a meditative sound walk through the fringes of Epping Forest. Call to Holy Ground creates a new ‘scripture’ of the earth and is a collective field of trust shared between generations and cultures, with hope for a sustainable future.
Commissioned by Art + Christianity, Call to Holy Ground is made in collaboration with, and features women elders from the communities of St Andrew’s Church and Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu temple in Leytonstone in north-east London.
Situated in a side chapel of St Andrew’s Church, in the area 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 in St Andrew’s Church, a video, projected on to a waxed cloth, presents a series of ritualistic gestures, 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.
Across a corner of Epping Forest, in the Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu temple, sits the 'Earth Scripture', a hand-felted wearable scripture, inspired by project participants' sacred connection to rivers and prayer objects from both faiths, the piece was worn, carried through and imbued with elemental thresholds in the landscape through a series of ritualistic performances before carefully hand stitched with the symbols that arouse. The Earth Scripture forms the installation as a portable shrine with clay and glass vessels 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.
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.
Video of performance, made in collaboration with Ale Tarraf and Nikki Mcclaron
Photos exhibited as part of exhibition in collaboration with 1. Ale Tarraf, 2 & 3 Nikki Mcclaron