Carrying the light

October 15, 2013


Carrying the light.


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How  did we get here? Looking at the reflection in the water on the floor while sitting at sunset with wet boots?  Good question.

Seven years earlier it was the hottest day of the year so far (actually only April).  We had been invited to come and wear the Quaker label at the grand opening of the Deer Shelter Skyspace.  The Art Fund, who had commissioned the installation, had invited Quakers in London who had transferred the invitation to five Quakers in Yorkshire. And when we arrived we were feted like famous people. The Art Fund clearly thought that Quakers were needed at this bunfight (sorry, rather elegant canapés, not thrown).  Their leader was delighted when we reported that we had spoken with James Turrell and were going to hold some meetings as he suggested.  ‘That’s just what we wanted’ he said.

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So perhaps that explains why Judy Kirby writes in the Quaker weekly journal ‘Quakers like to think of James Turrell, the installation artist, as theirs’.  But in fact there are all sorts of reactions among Quakers to Turrell’s work, and all sorts of reactions among other visitors to the Deer Shelter Skyspace.  Saskia Warren researched  these reactions in 2012, and will talk about them at the study afternoon next March.  Some respond to sitting in the installation chamber with deep feelings and thoughts, others think it’s a bit of a concrete bunker with nothing much to look at.

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So it turned out that we had become the token Quakers for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, inadvertently tasked with connecting Art and Quaker response to it in the context of Turrell’s skyspaces. We have done our best to oblige, making a short film, holding events for Quakers and non-Quakers (that’s where the wet feet came in), and now preparing for the study afternoon.  The afternoon will draw widely from other people’s work on Turrell. In the background are Lise Kjaer’s 2008 thesis Awakening the Spiritual: James Turrell and Quaker Practice and Roger Homan’s lecture on Quaker attitudes to visual culture. We’ll look more at those in this blog in the future.  Full details of the planned speakers are now on the events page. We’ll also ask them to give us a trailer about what they are going to say, and there are probably more of you out there who have something to contribute.  Get in touch if you have and we’ll see where it fits in.



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