Considered by some to be one of our most important collections of modern religious art, the Methodist Art Collection is currently being displayed across Leicester prior to a major conservation project
Since its inception more than 50 years ago the Methodist Modern Art Collection has been displayed in churches, galleries and schools right across the UK.
For the Methodist Church the collection forms part of a long tradition of religious imagery exploring the Christian faith, and many of its themes reflect Christian values.
more like this
Yet with examples by Christian and non-Christian artists, the fascinating collection is both eclectic and considered and it is deemed by some to be the most important modern religious art collection after the Vatican Collection.
It began its life as private collection assembled in the 1960s by two Methodists who wanted to open up “faith conversations” and today it comprises 55 works of art. Most of them depict scenes from the life and teachings of Christ, and are by renowned artists including Graham Sutherland, Elisabeth Frink, William Roberts, Patrick Heron and Maggi Hambling.
But having toured widely in its fifty year existence it’s now about to be removed from public display for several months following its next exhibition to undergo major rejuvenation work.
The latest planned conservation work will, say the church, “return the important paintings to their full glory”, and ensure that they are framed and have suitable travelling cases to protect them for the future when touring recommences.
“We must care for the collection to the highest possible standards, preserving it for future generations and ensuring it plays a key role in the missional life of the Methodist Church,” says Ann Sumner, chair of the Methodist Modern Art Collection management committee.
Sumner says the Church wants to fully research and interpret the collection “so that the widest audiences have the opportunity to engage with it”.
“When we re-launch the collection in 2020, it will be in the very best of condition, many works being transformed by surface cleaning and other interventions, with strong, suitable frames, fit for the demands of regular touring.”
Following conservation the collection will be kept in high quality, professional storage where it can be fully condition-surveyed between exhibitions, while discussions are being undertaken to find a new permanent home for the collection when it is not touring.
The final exhibition of the Methodist Modern Art Collection before the conservation work is called Wondering Soul and is taking place across church sites in Leicester until June 9 2019 in a joint project between the Anglican churches, including Leicester Cathedral, and the Methodist church.
Visitors will be able to see a range of artworks in a series of apposite religious settings like the Bishop Street Methodist Church, a large 204-year-old chapel that is hosting a range of artworks by artists including Dame Elisabeth Frink, Patrick Heron and Mark Cazalet.
Wondering Soul is at various venues across Leicester until June 9 2019. For full details see www.wonderingsoul.co.uk
Explore the full collection at www.methodist.org.uk/our-faith/reflecting-on-faith/the-methodist-modern-art-collection/index-of-works/