New take on religious art as Pershore Abbey hosts exhibition by artist Oliver Jones - The Evesham Observer

New take on religious art as Pershore Abbey hosts exhibition by artist Oliver Jones

Evesham Editorial 12th Feb, 2022   0

TWO IMPORTANT art works by Shropshire-based artist Oliver Jones are being shown at Pershore Abbey for a limited time.

Divine and #motherandchild have been selected as they present similarities with certain forms of religious art. They do not make any comments on belief or faith yet appear ‘at home’ in the context of the awe-inspiring architecture of the abbey.

The works chosen address how different forms of communication can contain social messages about who we are and how we relate to each other.

They take on a number of important contemporary issues such as body image, the impact of social media and the relation between self-image and self-worth.




The images are hyper-contemporary and tackle the image-saturated world and the way most images are circulated today – online and on social media.

By borrowing from art history, using techniques and compositions that have been utilised over centuries, Jones makes us aware of the huge changes that have occurred in the world of images.


#motherandchild depicts a woman tenderly holding her baby – the scene is lit by the screen of the mobile phone she is holding.

Here Jones uses the historical technique of the ‘chiaroscuro’, whereby the artist uses strong contrasts of darkness and light.

Immediately reminiscent of the religious figure of the Madonna and child, the shape of the piece, featuring a pointed arch, reinforces the religious format, but also encourages the viewer to further explore the beautiful gothic architecture of the Abbey.

The monumental triptych Divine (commissioned by The New Art Gallery Walsall in 2016) is reminiscent of a religious painting or altar piece.

It dominates the whole South Wall of the Abbey. The central figures further reference the Ancient Greek sculpture, the Laocoön group, depicting the Trojan priest and his sons struggling with two snakes, traditionally regarded as an icon of human suffering.

With Divine Jones refers to the increasing trend fortattoo and extreme body modification procedures. This quest for individuality at any price, marks a reaction to escalating standardisation.

Priest-in-charge The Rev Claire Lording said: “For centuries the Abbey has been a place where stories of humanity have been shared and told. “The subject matter of Oliver’s work is particularly significant for us, not only in its use of traditional religious composition, which resonates with a place of worship, but the actual images captured.

“The use of modern models and images enable the important topic of body image and how we relate to others, to be accessible and relevant to those who will view the art, especially younger people.”

Anne de Charmant, artistic director of Meadow Arts, said: ‘It is a huge privilege and a pleasure to be able to present these two artworks in the magnificent context of the Abbey.

“The juxtaposition of contemporary imagery and subject matter with the charged interior of the church will hopefully suggest new ways of thinking and encourage new conversations.”

An artist talk will take place from 3pm on March 5 at the Abbey.

Visit meadowarts.org for more and to book.

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