Journeys are fascinating. Whether it’s a physical trek, like Bear Grylls’ ascent of Everest or Sir Ranulph Fiennes circumnavigation of Antarctica, or the personal journey of overcoming one’s background, like Nicky Cruz’, the gang leader turned social reformer, in his biography ‘Run, Baby Run’, I love being inspired by other peoples’ stories. And, when we look back on our own journeys, though much less known, they can be just as fascinating.
Like Nicky Cruz, and many others, my journey has been one of overcoming my own personal demons: addiction and mental health and depression and relational brokenness. And like Nicky Cruz and others, once I was free of the demons that had plagued me for years, it was only natural for me, a carer and teacher by profession, to want to share with others what I’d found, in order to help them escape their own personal prisons too.
So it was that I left full-
Initially, when I started out and set up AnthonyHodgsonArt as an enterprise, my mission statement was 'to encourage, to challenge, to inspire': I knew I wanted to create art, but I wanted to be creating art with a difference, art which would connect with the viewer, art which had a message or a story to convey. However, as well as a huge lack of confidence, I just wasn’t sure how to go about it. So, over the next two years I did a business course, met and learned with fellow aspiring small business entrepeneurs and did a lot of test trading, i.e. testing markets and fairs with different products in order to see which worked and which didn’t.
It was at one such art fair that a man came up to me. He was profoundly moved by a piece of mine called ‘Redemption’. Now, ‘Redemption’ is a overtly religious piece with the Christ at the centre of the picture clearly inviting the viewer to come to him. Yet this man, by his own admission, was an atheist. He didn’t believe in God yet was moved to be open to a conversation about the possiblity. Wow! Another, a lady who was a Buddhist, was deeply moved by a piece called ‘Condemned’, which is one of a triptych, the third being ‘Liberated’ -
As well as the business course, test trading and becoming a member of several arts organisations, I also worked with a business mentor for a year in order to apply for a start up loan. With his support and encouragement, I slowly wrote and rewrote a business plan, based upon the test trading until I finally had a plan ready to go in front of the board. However, by this stage, I had come to understand that God was not calling me to set up a full-
Throughout all this, there was a lot of frustration and disappointment on my part: spending a whole day at an arts fair and selling nothing did nothing for my confidence or my feelings towards God; especially after praying fervently for success and believing I was going to get lots of sales! Yet God was teaching me (very patiently!) and leading me onwards, even if I didn’t understand what was going on at the time. Then in June 2015, nearly three years after I’d left a full-
So Living Art was born.
I believe art, music and poetry, can be a very powerful medium for reaching people in a way that, for example, preaching might not. As I have seen, it attracts people; it speaks to people; it moves people. At a crafts fair, an exhibition or arts evening, a person will approach a piece of art and may spend a long time contemplating what they see, whereas if that same person passed a pastor preaching in the street they might quickly hurry past. God's Spirit can speak to a person's heart profoundly through the arts and we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the whole of nature is God's work of art and has spoken to people of every culture and race throughout history of the beauty and magnificence of its creator. Art is also more accessible because, like music it can operate both inside and outside of a church environment. Like music, it is a universal language that speaks to the soul. Thus Living Art endeavours to be a visible witness and communicator of God’s Good News to those who would never enter a church and ultimately, it is my hope and prayer that, as in my painting of the same name, my art, music and poetry will act as a bridge; to reconcile and bring home this broken, hurting world to the Father once more.
If the above ideas resonate with you, you can join with me in sharing the good news with the hurting of this broken world through the arts. Get in touch if you want to get involved or help by making a donation to Living Art. Nothing is wasted, as the Bible tells us, but is an investment in God’s kingdom here and as well as the one to come.