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Dear God...
“Hate leads to fights, Fights lead to war, War leads to beautiful world no more”
Kieran Hunt

Haslemere Methodist Church

Opening Doors: Art

Two different approaches to the refurbishment of our church premises led us to approach the Westhill Endowment for a grant towards a major work of art as a major visual focus in our worship space.

In order to bring a fifty-year old building up-to-date, we decided to raise funds to upgrade both the worship area and the community facilities in line with modern usage and expectations. After nearly five years of planning, fundraising and building works, we are nearly at the end of our project. We are now enjoying our community café area, with its fully equipped kitchen, where we are able to offer hospitality to a wide range of individuals and groups, for both hot drinks and light lunches.

Some of these groups gather some of the more vulnerable members of the local community, some bring in people exploring a range of educational and social activities. We have also moved back into to our meeting room and worship area.

In raising money for all this work, we have initiated and hosted a number of exhibitions – of paintings, photographs and quilting – all of which have both shown us the suitability of the building for such events and also the local interest in exhibitions of art. We hope to continue and develop this in the months to come. Through talking with those who visited the exhibitions, we have also become aware of the level of interest in the arts and the possibility of holding taster days and longer courses to enable local people to try their hand in different media.

The second influence on our thinking has been the very difficult acoustics in the main worship space. Through also offering a range of musical performances as part of our money-raising efforts, we have discovered once again how suitable the premises are for such events. Musicians like the reverberating acoustic, but it is rather difficult to listen to the spoken word.

Expert investigation and advice has lead to a strategy of covering some of the hard surfaces to reduce the level of reverberation. Some of this has been done with acoustic panels, but the possibility of covering one large (6.5m x 7m), bare wall with a curtain led to a more imaginative suggestion that we instigate a suitable work of art to both cover the wall and offer a striking visual focus for all that happens in this large space.

The upshot of these two “revelations” led to the discovery of Juliet Hemingray, an artist in applique and embroidery specialising in work for Churches. We commissioned her to create a large piece of art incorporating both a lively design and symbols of Christian faith to offer both a vivid visual impact and images which asked questions of people as they viewed it.  The grant from the Westhill Endowment affirmed our will to proceed with this and encouraged others to donate to this very particular work. We are delighted with the final result and work by Juliet Hemingray. It promises to help us launch us into an exciting furture of using the arts in our building to glorify God and to bless our community. 

David Rice: January 2019

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