Thursday, 9 June 2011

Hope Art Exhibition - June Project 2011

Welcome to the online version of the June Project 2011 Art Exhibition on the theme of Hope and New Life. Here you can view the exhibiting artists' work and read their thoughts and meaning behind each piece. We hope you enjoy and feel inspired by the exhibition and we also hope that you will be able to join us in person between 11am and 7.30pm on Saturday 11 June in the Appleby Rooms, Church Street, Durham. 

Birds by Norman Urwin

(wood carvings)

Birds have a special place in our culture and few people can have failed to notice some aspect of their lives. It may be their beauty, their power or their ability to migrate staggering distances. I am drawn, not only by these things, but also the infinite variation of shape and form they display.

Birds are mentioned very early in the bible as part of God’s creation.
In Genesis chapter 1 verses 20 and 21: “and God said ‘let birds fly above the earth and across the expanse of the heavens.’ So God created… every winged bird according to its kind.”

The symbolism of birds is used to convey images of God’s goodness and care for us. Psalm 91 verse 4 says “…He (God) will cover you with his pinions and under his wings you will find refuge.”

Also in Isaiah Chapter 40 and verse 31 we are given a simile of the power and freedom of a bird:
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles …”

The annual miracle of nesting, egg laying and the production of new life, which is all around us at this time of year, mirrors the creation story and reminds us of the hope and promise of new life to be had in Jesus Christ.

Turn, Turn, Turn by Robin Cicansky

(wood and wool)

‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven’

Ecclesiastes 3:1

I think sometimes we forget that change is painful.
We get wrapped up in remembering that winter's end brings spring,
but forget the labour pains of new life.

17 Days by John Castling


I wrote this after having played at the Students' Union in Stockton back in October. While I was playing there and everyone was facing me, behind them the TV was on and showing sky news or BBC news or some other such channel. And so there in front of me was being shown the live rescue of the 33 Chilean miners (reported here in case you slept for three months last summer). One thing that struck me was that nearly all the miners knelt and prayed as soon as they were free. I found their level of faith and the hope that sprang from it incredible. This, coupled with a difficult few months in terms of family health, my Granddad passing away, a brief consideration of Plato's cave and something Paul says in Colossians 1:13, led to this song.

Hope in Acceptance by Val Collier

( plaster, news print, egg shell, chicken wire, cobbles,

cement, fleece, tissue paper, p.v.a, paint)

We may be scarred and damaged from our past, vulnerable, confused, angry, searching for an identity; or just putting on a mask and trying hard to fit in with the crowd - longing and hoping for someone to accept us for who we really are!! But God didn’t wait for us to change; he sent Jesus to hold his hand out in friendship to us just as we are.  If we accept that hand and trust Him, he will help us to become the people we were always meant to be.

Hope in Healing by Val Collier

(plaster, glass bottle, water)

The Lord is the only one I know who can take the messed up, broken bits of our lives, heal us and restore us so that we can refresh and comfort those with the same comfort we ourselves have received from Him.

Hope for Our World by Val Collier

(mdf, news print, varnish, cartridge paper cut)

The bad news of today was similar to the bad news of 2000 years ago – murder, abuse, corruption, injustice and high taxes. Not everyone understood then or understands the message now that was delivered by the angels to the shepherds. To some it is like a confusing code that has no cipher. To those that have understood the message it is their task to share it with others so that they too can receive the hope that it brings.

Psalm 118-24 by Joanne Codd


A few years ago I had a very difficult job and I dreaded every day there. I found this verse really encouraging because it reminded me that God is in every day, no matter how much I enjoy it - or not! When I looked for the good things instead of dwelling on the bad I was amazed because I could always find something to thank God for.

I used the image of a dawn over the sea because it is often when reflected in the power and beauty of nature and light that we can put our lives in the perspective of creation and find hope.

Soar by Jessie Wisenfeld

(acrylic on canvas)

When we are feeling at our most weak and helpless, whether physically or emotionally, to look up at birds gliding and diving effortlessly in a clear sky can fill us with wistfulness. I was inspired by Isaiah 40 verse 30-31

30 Even youths grow tired and weary, 
   and young men stumble and fall; 
31 but those who hope in the LORD 
   will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; 
   they will run and not grow weary, 
   they will walk and not be faint.

This verse speaks of a God who longs to be our strength and source of hope, to lift us up so that we can soar into the life He has envisaged for us.

Sunrise by Jenny Dodd

The quotes shown in this picture from left to right are from the following Bible verses:

Psalm 139:9-10, Judges 5:31, Matthew 13:43, Psalm 84:11, Revelation 1:16, Psalm 27:1, Habakkuk 3:4, Luke 1:78-79, Malachi 4:2, 2 Samuel 23:3-4

I find that looking at different themes in the Bible often brings so much more meaning out of some passages for me as I see the imagery used in different ways. This artwork explores the theme of sunrise imagery in the Bible which links well to the topics of this exhibition as light symbolises well-being, life and salvation. Jesus is referred to as the rising sun in Luke 1:78. At the moment of his death, when he took the punishment for our sins, a darkness descended on the earth (see Luke chapter 23). Jesus, the light of the world had died. However, three days later he rose again from the dead bringing hope and new life to all who trust in him. Jesus brings light into the darkness – just like the rays of the sunrise can reach into every corner of darkness, so does the light of Jesus. In the light nothing is hidden. The first quote on the sunrise from Psalm 139 talks about the fact that wherever we go we cannot hide from God (although this doesn’t link so clearly to the sunrise theme I think it links well to the picture as a whole so therefore included it). There may be things you want to hide from God but actually, he already knows everything about you. You can’t run away from him however far you go (Jonah tried – and failed!). This may seem daunting, but the awesome thing is that although He knows us intimately – better than we even know ourselves – God also loves us deeper than we could ever love anyone. In this picture, the boat (the only sign of man in the picture) seems really small and insignificant in comparison to the huge mountains, the expanse of sea and the splendour of the sunrise. However, the light still shines on the small boat. We are never insignificant in God’s eyes. Small as we are in comparison to his greatness He still considers us important. We are the pinnacle of creation for we were made in His image. And He has gone to ultimate lengths to save us showing so much grace and compassion.

As you can see from the rest of the quotes along the sun’s rays, both God and man are described with sunrise imagery in different parts of the Bible. We see God’s glory described like the sunrise and we see how amazing this is. He is the light of the world. However in Matthew 5:13 we are also told that “You [meaning Christians] are the light of the world” and we are instructed to let our light shine before others. One of the themes for this exhibition is “being the change you want to see.” When we trust in Jesus the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in us. This means God is living inside us. The Holy Spirit changes us and makes us more like Christ. Because of this we are also able to be light in this world of darkness, just as Jesus was. We are called to become ever more like Jesus and God helps us to do that. As we ourselves change we can also change the world around us as God gives us the desire and strength to do so. It is only God who can truly change things for good and we have the amazing privilege of being used by him to bring about this change.

Glorious by Mark Lovell

‘See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?’ Matthew 6.28-30. I get the feeling that, whilst I focus on the flower in the centre, and regard it as beautiful, God Himself focuses on me in the same way. He focuses on all people simultaneously, regarding them as His glorious beloved creation and thus endowing them all with great importance.

Expectation by Elena Borodenko
(watercolour and collage)

Together these four pieces represent different aspects of hope, letting go of things with faith and having a sure hope that good will come out of it. The first is of a tree shedding its leaves in the Autumn with the expectation that they will grow back in the spring. The Bible presents many promises for us to cling onto so we can be expectant of great things. 

For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ Jeremiah 29.11. 

The paintings include images of birds which reflect the freedom hope brings whilst the trees represent a faith that is strongly rooted in solid ground.

Tree From the Rocks by Kat Bateman
(acrylic on canvas)

You can find this tree somewhere near St. Sunday Crag in the Lake District away from the main routes. I discovered it the week before Easter, when walking with my Dad in the Lakes and it caught my attention so I stopped a moment, while others walked on and took a photo of the 'Prophetic tree'.

This picture is about the possibility, endurance and strength when hope is involved.  It's about Jesus - alive, risen from the dead, the tomb stone rolled away, death defeated! It is about being able to break through into light and life when reality says you're trapped in the dark, the obstacles are too big and solid, you can't survive! It is about recognising hope isn't airy fairy optimism, but pushing on in the dark, keeping going through the pain, and the darkness when the odds seem stacked against you.

A tiny seed growing in the hillside, that raised its head to be surrounded not by light but dark, cool air and trapped in a huge tomb of rocks. Young plants need sunlight to survive, but somehow it grew, and it pushed the rock that I couldn't move and opened up the tomb so it could discover what life in all its fullness is really about.

This tree is real. I didn't create it in my imagination, it really pushed through the rocks and made it to daylight, look for it in the Lakes. Hope is amazing, combining heaven's possibilities with our reality!

It's about rocks like a tomb, trapping a tree,
blocking the light, but the tree bursts free.
Pushing the slab of rock aside
I don't think I could if I tried!

The dark is too dark
How can you survive
Hope is so small
but it is alive.

Life has strength and power
and Hope does not die
A tree stands firm like a tower
from faith buried on a hillside.

When the power of heaven join and face
the struggles and darkness of this place
Hope goes hand in hand with reality!
Rocks like a tomb, but the tree bursts free!

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
by Chiedza Mhondoro
(textured paper)

‘I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
your works are wonderful. I know that full well.’ 
Psalm 139:14

The lion is a symbol of strength, ferocity and beauty. His presence commands the landscape and oversees his mighty pride. When lionesses collectively and passionately hunt, they are a force to be reckoned with. Together, a pride fiercely looks after its young and its mighty roar demonstrates its stunning power. They are awe inspiring creatures which glorify the work of God. We are surrounded by so many amazing things that show God’s sovereign power in the creation of the world; from lions to flowers and from volcanoes to our own human bodies.

Perspectives by Andrew Linton
(card, rods and plant pots)

How often can our personal viewpoint change our outlook on something? The pessimist sees the glass as half empty whereas the optimist sees it as half full.

Perhaps faith is like this. The Bible says that God's message wasn't delivered through conventional wisdom; that it can seem foolish or random when analysed objectively. On the other hand, I want to suggest that when actually experienced, the pieces align as it were, and a clear message comes into focus.

I wonder whether sometimes an invitation to discover faith first hand would answer our questions in a way words never could.

Come, stand where I stand, and see what I see.

Cleanse by Robyn Trainer

For me, hope is all wrapped up in the future.  For most of us, the future is wrapped up in our past, which isn't always happy, good, joyful or easy and we haven't always made the best decisions.  The hope that I cling to tells me that my past is washed clean and that I have a future with God.  The bad things I've done and the mistakes that I've made are washed away, because a man called Jesus, in love, died on a cross for them.  That's why I've submitted a photo of being washed clean to this art gallery.  I know that I'm clean of my past and I have a hopeful future because of what Jesus did for me, and I know that this offer stands for everyone, every single person, regardless of what they've done.

Hope by Elena Borodenko
(acrylic and pencil on paper)

When I think of hope I think of faith and confidence to endure whatever hardship I may face. When I am stuck or feel helpless there is always a glimmer of hope when I remember God’s promises for me. I feel this poem by King David reflects my thoughts:

‘The Lord is my light and salvation –
        whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life –
        of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me
        to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
        they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
        my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
        even then will I be confident...

Wait for the LORD;
        Be strong and take heart
        And wait for the LORD.’

                                      Psalm 27.1-3 &14

What Remains? by Elena Borodenko


I think the words in this piece pretty much speak for themselves. I find it helpful to put things into perspective sometimes, asking myself – what really counts in this life and in what can we trust? God promises that he will never leave us even though this Earth will end someday. This is something that fills me with immense hope! 

Consider by Eva Mayer

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you-you of little faith?

So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6)

Every time that I read this passage I am struck by the poetry and imagery which Jesus uses to describe how he loves and cares for us. The birds of the air, the flowers of the field and the green grass are incredibly designed and bring colour to the world...yet we are far more valuable! YOU are valuable to God and he cares about what you’re going through.

The Prodigal Son by Eva Mayer

In Luke chapter 15 Jesus tells a story about two sons. One of them asks his father for his inheritance, which he squanders on wild living in a distant country. Having spent everything, he finds himself feeding pigs, longing to eat what they were eating. The man came to realise that he was lost, alone and in need of his father. Nervous, the young man sets out in trepidation and makes the journey home to his father. How would his father, who he had turned his back on, receive him?

“But whilst he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him...For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

I chose to paint this story, as for me it is a powerful story of forgiveness and reconciliation. The son who went away to live life his own way didn’t deserve to return home to open arms and celebration...but that’s what he received! We too, may feel like that son; unworthy, weak and broken. But our God is a God of love and grace. He will welcome us into his arms, should we return to him.

Taste and See by Val Collier
(shortbread biscuit and boiled sugar)

For those who are feeling low and without hope there is good news. Jesus’ friendship isn’t like biscuit- short lived, enjoyed for the moment, then gone – but it is dependable, never ending and always there to satisfy our needs with good things.

The Sower by Val Collier
(paper cut, collotype print, mount board)

Based on the parable of the Sower. In each individual window the message of good news in Jesus and the hope that he brings is received differently and not always with enthusiasm. Sometimes this good news becomes tangled up and choked by the cares, worries and concerns within our lives- so it fades, becomes insignificant, and at times will disappear. In others the good news is received with gladness, and the joy and hope in Jesus is evident.

Where there’s tea, there’s hope by Hannah Rudge
(edible art)

In this piece of art I wanted to produce something fun and uplifting: something which would make people smile! A tea break is a chance to take time out of the business of everyday life and re-charge batteries. So take time, stop and enjoy a taste of hope!

Physics Maze by Tim Wiles
(graphic print)

This picture represents exactly how I find every new physics problem I come across. At first I often feel totally lost, trusting that eventually I will find a way out. I’ll spend a fair amount of time going down avenues that lead to nowhere, but eventually reach an understanding of the problem. Once I’ve escaped this maze of confusion the real work begins! This cycle happens very frequently and can be exhausting at times, however, it is also very rewarding. It requires trust and hope that each time the process begins, I am able to escape the maze.

Hope for a Pupa by Tim Wiles

II took this photo a number of years ago when I was in the garden. I was struck when I glanced towards the ground as I spotted the scene that you see in front of you. It made me realise how much I took for granted the smaller creatures of God’s creation. This ant carried its pupa for a great distance as I followed him. The ant’s treatment of its young is not unlike how we would care for one of our own. The pupa may look fairly plain, however inside is the potential for new life.


  1. Wow, such amazing work - and so varied! Great to see a preview of so many talented people's work.