Most village churches are hundreds of years old, and they look it, ancient and old-fashioned. It’s easy to think of them as embodying stability in a changing world. So they do, because they have survived so much for so long – and yet they were once the height of fashion. They were built to the latest trends in contemporary art and architecture. Each new aisle or window or sculpture similarly reflect current tastes.
It can be hard to see that now for several reasons, which is one reason why it can be so exciting to encounter contemporary art in an ancient church. Altered is a partnership between the Diocese of Lincoln, arts NK and the University of Lincoln to commission artists to create new work in churches. The experience is well captured by this comment from the Dutch artist Pat van Boeckel, who created work last year:
‘The challenge in Heckington for me was to make artwork which would not disturb the unique atmosphere of the centuries old church. In between the various projections I left room to look at the beauty of the church itself. I was surprised how much the church and the video could strengthen each other.’
Several installations have now been completed: they’re documented on the project’s website. The next one, by Carol MacGillivray and Bruno Mathez, will be at St James, Dry Doddington, next Bank Holiday weekend, Saturday 24 to Monday 26 May. Definitely worth a visit…