ADVENTurous is an open submission exhibition exploring the christmas narrative, which we're staging in 3 UK venues during advent this year : at Engedi in Colwyn Bay, Leftbank in Leeds and the Union Chapel in Islington, London.

The work exhibited at Union Chapel will also be part of the one-day ‘ADVENTurous' conference, hosted by Greenbelt Festival and partners.

On this blog we'll be posting regular updates about how plans for the Leftbank Leeds show are progressing, with information about the contributing artists, and possibly some previews of the work being created for the exhibition...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

'Present (2012)' by James Feraciour

James Feraciour is a painter and sculptor whose work celebrates the limitations of human
perception and awareness.  2012 has been a busy year for James with 20+ local, national and
international exhibitions, commissions including work for the Silver Jubilee, and work featured in
international media including The Huffington Post, Design Week, and The One Show.
Upcoming exhibitions include a commissioned international show at AENY (Brooklyn, NYC,
November 2012 - January 2013) and ISE Cultural Foundation (SoHo, NYC, March - April 2013). 

Present was started in Spring of 2011, and finished early 2012.  It was inspired by Ambrogio
Borgognone's Madonna and Child (1490s), and was painted as a response to that.  As with each
of my paintings, it became a journey of discovery in itself. The process was particularly poignant
as it served as a catharsis, allowing me to explore feelings of love and loss related to a recent
family break-up (losing my partner and infant child).  In March of this year I found out that
Present had won The Kress Project, an international art prize awarded by The Georgia Museum
of Artand The Samuel H. Kress Foundation of New York.  My original statement regarding

Digital painting

'Things We Could Do #58' by Sally Jane Thompson

Sally Jane Thompson is a freelance illustrator and comic creator. She creates thoughtful, gentle 
work with expressive, organic lines. Her work has appeared in books and magazines from 
Imagine Publishing, Image Comics, IDW Publishing, Rockport Publishers Inc, and others.

'Things We Could Do #58' is a playful short comic about opportunity and change and the 
things we would like to do, if only there wasn't so much to do already...

Digital print

'Favour and Failure' by Lou Davis

Lou Davis lives in Edinburgh where she plays with bits of fabric and thread, making practical
items for the wardrobe and home as well as exploring the themes of life and divine presence,
inviting others to join creative journeys that expose the soul and form communities of

The piece I've created for ADVENTurous is based on the story of Elizabeth.
When I read the brief it was her story I connected to immediately, and as I read the details
from Luke's account in the bible, I felt that connection even more strongly. Especially as I thought
of Elizabeth and Mary spending time together, their faithfulness and acceptance in contrast to
their men, and the pain which they had both been through and would know again in the future.
So many thoughts and feelings flowed from reading that account as they do for so many other
women, all with very different experiences. I wanted to collect some of those feelings, the joy
and the pain and bring them together in a comforting and supportive way. I wanted to reflect
the relationships women can have with one another and how they can share and support one
another. God was birthed in the heart of one of these supportive friendships, and I wanted to
explore whether God could be present when women share their experiences of sex, infertility
and pregnancy with one another.

I've collected together the experiences of dozens of women, either of infertility or pregnancy
and made a patchwork quilt of the results. I've included some snippets of Elizabeth's story too.
The result is deliberately a little bit messy because piecing together so many differing accounts
will never be neat and tidy but the stories become part of a whole and each individual is
supported and highlighted by the others.


'Ministry of Economics' by Rhys Jones

Rhys is a Photographer, Visual artist and Researcher whose current work involves research which 
encompasses the connections between art and neuroscience and tries to offer some non-scientific 
explanations to explain and help diagnose and treat some of the mysteries of conditions on the 
autism spectrum.

Rhys's current practice explores random and chance connection by visual,written and performed 
elements. He has worked in collaboration with a number of artists to develop ideas and 
experiments into art forms and vehicles for further research, learning and teaching.

Rhys has a particular research interest in understanding further what is or maybe happening in 
our minds and bodies when we engage in an artistic activity - taking a photograph, drawing, 
painting, sketching, writing a poem or story, composing and playing music, making a sculpture 
or thinking about all those activities when performing other routine daily activites or watching 
or listening to the work of others.

Rhys holds a BA (Hons) in Latin, Ancient History and Classical Philosophy from the University 
of London and an MA in Photography : Contemporary Dialogues from Swansea Metropolitan 
University. Rhys is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society (ARPS).


Photograph on Canvas

'Bethlehem' by We Stitch Angry

A nine metre high, concrete wall surrounds Bethlehem. Water is restricted. Homes are being 
demolished. The way people living in Palestine are being treated makes a lot of people cross, if 
you’re a crafter it makes you cross-stitch.  An exhibition of craftivism in Palestine. 


'Heaven's Chorus' by Terry Mart

The ideas I work with have always been to do with landscape. From my early days as an art
student right through to the present. I have been preoccupied with how the land's surface
records human action, as a sheet of paper drawings or script.

Heaven's Chorus began as an idea called Song of the River Birds. I had this idea based on some
earlier pieces I had done which involve some kind of musical notation superimposed on a river
scene in an attempt to fuse visual marks with known pictograms. It features a sine wave of
vocal singing set into the sky of an abstracted landscape - I saw the sound-wave display at a
recording studio and the colour-coded voices and instruments were the colour of a landscape.
It all seemed to fit together in a unified way. 

Acrylic on Canvas
Price on request

'No. Going. Back' by Kate Mounce

Kate Mounce is a theatre maker living in East London. She graduated from the London 
International School of Performing Arts (LISPA) in 2010 and has gone on to perform in, direct 
and produce a number of theatre shows. No. Going. Back. is her second installation.
Many themes and questions arose whilst making this piece, particularly on the subject of 
spiritual journeying. I was beginning to look at the idea of an authority defining how such a 
journey should unfold and how this might prevent a real meeting with God. It takes courage 
and not a little rebelliousness to go there but perhaps Christ can be often found in places 
considered ‘out of bounds’ in our lives or in the world. What occurs there, in meeting with 
God, may be unexpected and can often be unmasking. What does it mean to not return by 
the way we came?

Mixed media
Price on request

Friday, December 14, 2012

'Xmas Madonna' by Rick Beerhorst

We are an artist family of eight living in downtown Grand Rapids MI USA with
backyard chickens and no car. We would love our Etsy shops to be your way through
our front door.  We support our selves making art and that means every purchase
helps our family continue on its mysterious adventure and have the money
to replace the bicycle tires when they wear out.

We use salvaged materials for not only shipping but also for art material when ever possible.

Much of the imagery springs out of our life together.
A love for color and texture as well as a strong interest in the past guides my selection of images.
I have always felt that a piece of art work can become a portal into the spiritual world like
the idea of thin places in Celtic theology.
All artistic creation can become a flight towards God.
Then let’s surround ours selves with truth and beauty and live lives accordingly.

Woodcut, collage

'12 Exaltations of Elizabeth (Diary of a pregnant pensioner)’ by Alison Herbert

'12 Exaltations of Elizabeth (Diary of a pregnant pensioner)’ is a sculptural handmade book. It is
a humourous account reading between the lines of the Gospels of Luke and John concerning 
Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist. It plays on Elizabeth’s inner thoughts giving the story 
a modern narrative.

I am interested in the positive effects creativity can have on a person’s emotional health and 
wellbeing whether in counselling or as a therapeutic activity in exploring, expressing and 
managing emotions. Creativity can promote and empower personal strategies, acting as a 
curative power. As a process artist my work is a combination of my thoughts, reactions and 
reflections of the complex issues that I am presented with in therapy and life. I work with a 
variety of methods and media such as drawing, painting, sculpture, textual, handmade and 
self-published books. The relationship of the materials and subject are dependent on the 
subject, my disposition, environment, time, complexity and strength of what I am working 
through. The artwork acts as psychological expressions of my mental thought processes 
but can be ambiguous in content and not necessarily reflecting the conflicting subject matter. 
It’s very concerned with aesthetics which I feel is important in attaining closure for the difficult 
thought processes, like a false or altered memory presented in a more manageable format.

Handmade book

'Gabriel' by Ric Stott

Revd Richard Stott is a Methodist Minister, artist and art psychotherapist.
He works in Sheffield exploring new ways of being church centred around the visual arts.
He is interested in how art and the process of creation can enrich communities and open up
questions of life, meaning and spirit. Much of his work involves exploring the creation of sacred
space in ordinary places. More information can be found on his blog:

In scripture the angel Gabriel visits the Mary, who is a virgin, and tells her that she will be become
pregnant by the Holy Spirit. He is traditionally portrayed with white lilies which symbolise Mary's
purity. Perhaps the sacred story hides a more visceral story of a young man visting a young
teenage girl. In this piece I try to hold the tension between the two versions of the story.
Between the spiritual story of the Virgin and angel and the earthier tale of two adolescents
having their first sexual encounter a deeper truth can be found.

Oil on Canvas

'Blessings', 'Carry Me' and 'Close' by Sonja Benskin Mesher

i am a painter who writes, a writer that paints,
a drawer on life, and landscape. watch me make things. 

am quite patient, hold my tongue, but can't say multi disciplinary easily.
i live here, in Wales easily

light-based media
£85 each

'Why Me?' by Jay Gadhia

 My influences are Indian heritage, ritual, cultural traditions and the 'Journey'.
Art, for me, is not  something to be searched for, rather something that can be found on one's
own doorstep. My work has spiritual rather than religious influence and recent themes include 
the fallen angel, shame and our journey to absolution.  

I am deeply process led in terms of my installation work and have made almost a meditation 
from repetition and exploring human emotion. 

We take for granted how Mary undertook the great responsibility of carrying Jesus into the
world. I wanted to explore not just this immense task, but how it must felt having to explain
this to all around her and what an impact it could have had. 

Would she be hated? Would she not be believed? Would she been seen as an adulterous and
treacherous liar trying to lump another man’s child onto an innocent Joseph?
In this piece I am attempting to bridge the gap between the biblical time and the modern day,
and a representation of prayer. 

Mixed media

'And Joseph Also Went Up... To Be Taxed With Mary, His Espoused Wife' by Steven Morant

Steven Morant is an architect. 
He has executed a commission for four small sculptures for Essex County Council
and his work has been exhibited widely and included in several collections.
He is interested in the acquisition and revival of the sort of Classical, academic,
figurative drawing and painting skills which were attained before the invention of photography.

He applied to participate in the exhibition in the hope of achieving something positive and
beneficial and concentration on the theme of "Advent" has encouraged him to consider how best
to  prepare for Christmas.  He has found  involvement in  the  exhibition an educational
experience and a personal adventure.

‘Detail of a Religious Painting with Donkey Lassoed by a Halo’
water-based oil paint, NFS

'Life-Script of Hope' by Rachel Yates

In my current training as an Art Therapist, we have been exploring “Life-scripts” (similar to 
post-modern, post-structuralist ideas of being born into a subject-position. A somewhat 
pre-determined role, shaped by our parents, history, culture etc….)

The Magnificat, the proclamation Mary made before Jesus was born, became the theme to his 
life. I wanted to explore the adventure our human life-story goes on; through the different 
cultures, times and spaces. How are we shaped by the story that pre-exists us? How might we 
use “hope as a state of mind” (as described by Václav Havel) to make our story better? My 
artwork is an attempt to depict the development of a life story, beginning before birth, and 
changing, developing as it moves through time (yet all the time connected to it’s origin). 

I have appropriated the aboriginal style of dot painting as the foundation layer for the artwork. 
Aboriginal art represents “origins” in a general sense. This aboriginal image is covered with 
“scripts”; extracts from newspapers, printouts of statistics about births; unmarried mothers 
and infant deaths. All of which could influence our concept of “risk”, how we view the 
world and make our choices. 

Mixed Media

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

‘ You Weren't to Know... But Where Are You Now’ by Elizabeth Loren

Throughout her practice Loren is concerned with the manipulation and transformation of the
human figure, utilizing the body to communicate moments of physical and mental pain that are
often associated with love. Her work often bares self-referential elements,  Loren says ‘…this is
because, for me,  I find I have to relate to an emotion otherwise the work becomes soulless’.

"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young
child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened
their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh." (Matthew 2:11)

The work "You Weren't to Know... But Where Are You Now"
incorporates Loren's figurative approach through cupped hands. This is a
rare occurrence in her work however hands are important in  the act of giving and are
a more social gesture of love. The three gifts held individually inside each pair of hands
have a spiritual meaning : gold as a symbol of kingship on Earth, frankincense - an
incense, as a symbol of deity and myrrh - an embalming oil, as a symbol of death. 

Wax, cosmetics, stone and natural resins
Price on request

'Mother and Child' by Michael L Radcliffe

Michael L Radcliffe makes paintings that explore contrasts, both in materials, and subject 
matter. He is interested in the sacred and the profane, and where true spirituality can be 
found, which reflects in the work. He usually starts by finding something that interests visually, 
and then reacting to it in some way, sometimes by adding to it, other times by defacing it.

Acrylic paint and marker pen on japanese endpaper 

'Maid for God... (" it unto me...")' by Sally Baker

I am interested in composition, pattern, decoration and concept - experimenting
with layers of meaning in order to explore the mystery of hints and glimpses...
seeing one thing through another.

Following Mary’s encounter with Gabriel, life would never be the same again - risking ridicule
and rejection; having no idea where she was going or how to get there (a fear with which we
may identify) except for trusting God completely ... and perhaps this is our answer too.
With a word from God she carried great anticipation of the coming event,
of a fulfilled promise: she is the picture of hope itself.

Mary’s structured background signifies her emergence from the predictable, safe pattern of life.
The thread conveys more about Mary: she is unsophisticated: at this point in time both Mary
and her story are new, fresh, raw, exposed, unfinished, still a work in progress, with a potentially
untidy outcome ... yet she trusts. What faith and courage was needed for Mary to reply
to the angel “... be it unto me according to thy word.” The risk of faith is the greatest adventure
upon which everyone is invited to embark.

Digital print onto polyester suede, thread.

'Nativity' by Ewart Hulse

From a young age my enthusiasm for photography has always been present, but it was not until 
an enforced change of career that I discovered my passion for alternative processes, and the craft 
and skill that is required to produce an image of quality, where care is taken over both the 
subject matter and the process by which it is created.  I hope to mix traditional skills with new 
techniques to create a unique blend of contemporary photographic imagery. I have recently 
exhibited in various UK venues including, Theatre Clwyd, Mold, Y Capel Llangollen and Library 

Despite my passion for alternate processes the work submitted for the Engedi ADVENTurous 
is a wholly digital montage, however my desire to combine the old and new led me to include 
various symbols and icons from medieval painting; reimaging the scene of the nativity and implied 
response to the situation should it have occurred in the present day.

Digital photo montage, limited edition of 20
Framed - £125, unframed - £ 75

'Another Journey' by Susie Liddle

I am a printmaker with a leaning towards mixed media installation. I often use vintage
photographs, alter them and print them using cyanotype. I will then add other layers like
paper-cuts, screen-prints and text to build up the completed work. Sometimes I work on
textiles and incorporate them into larger installations. I will use whatever medium and material
works best for what I am doing.

My 'Adventurous' piece has definitely been inspired by my feelings at this time of year. All my
work comes from somewhere deep inside me where the store of life experiences, hopes and
dreams reside. I think this is common to all artists.

Mixed media.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Introducing... Mike Maddox

Left Bank: It's great to have you on board for Adventurous! To start with would you like to introduce yourself and your work?

Mike Maddox:  I've written radio dramas, plays, comics and the obligatory novel.
It's a good thing for any writer to find out that they're not a novelist as soon as possible!
I like talking. It's for this reason I've found radio drama and comics so appealing, as from the writing point of view you're mainly just writing dialogue. I did think I'd end up writing superhero comics, and made quite a thing of chasing this idea as a young man. But there are really only  so many interesting things to say about two men in tights beating each other up. Sooner or later it all just looks like a particularly dramatic falling out at the Royal Ballet Company...
 What has been quite lovely, and entirely unexpected, was that I'd end up writing for Doctor Who. It's been said before, but there's something quite brilliant about an action hero who abhors violence.
I love radio plays. You can actually do more than you can on TV, in some ways. The other great thing about writing for radio is you can get ridiculously talented (And quite famous!) actors turning up to perform your scripts. There's no makeup, no costume, no hanging around for effects shots. And actors can concentrate solely on their voices, without having to worry about camera angles or bumping into the scenery, which is quite nice for them, too.
I worked with Jeff Anderson on a translation of the bible into comic strip, which was a huge success, and which nearly killed us doing it. What's been great has been to read the stories of people who say what an impact the work has had on readers, particularly on people who may never have given the bible a second glance otherwise. This will be the only bible some people will ever read. So, no pressure then.
I wasn't brought up in a particularly churchy family. I didn't really take an interest in anything remotely spiritual until secondary school. We had a brilliant RE teacher who started us out with Aztec mythology, before leaping straight into the Old Testament. The subject thought I would be boring turned out to be utterly brilliant, and we were soon knee deep in blood and gore. I think she understood 12 year old children perfectly, and may have invented Horrible Histories about a decade before Terry Deary did the same thing. I blame her. But in a good way.

LB: Wow, what a varied CV! It's really interesting that topics that seem so different, like the Bible and comics, can come together to form something new! What do you think it is about the comic strip style that gets people excited about something they may never have considered before?

MM:  I think that some people have such low expectations when they open a comic that they are often dazzled by the unexpectedly wonderful stories and art that they find. British culture seems to still sometimes equate illustrated stories of any kind as being for children, or semi-literates, and as such we don't always hold comics in very high esteem.
You can do things with a comic that you can't do in any other medium. It is not a genre (I dislike it when people call it that. "Comic book genre".), it's not a genre, it's a medium. It's as valid a means of storytelling as film, or theatre, or radio, or the novel,  or anything else for that matter.

LB: Hopefully when people come to see yours and Jeff's piece at Adventurous it will allow them to see the comic strip in a new light!  Your approach to the theme of Advent is really interesting. What were your initial thoughts when choosing "journey"?

MM: The obvious symbolism of 3 travellers following the stars on Christmas Eve was just too good to resist.
I'm old enough to remember the Apollo moon landings. My Mum let me sleep on the sofa in the front room, so I wouldn't miss anything. And yes, she's awesome. I remember waking up one night to find Mum doing the ironing, watching blurry figures walking on the moon. I went out in the garden and stared up at the moon, just in awe of the fact that there were men up there at that exact moment. I would have been about five, I suppose.
The story of Apollo 8 has always stuck with me. Even though they were nowhere near ready to attempt a moon landing, NASA sent a crew to the moon and back, terrified the Russians would beat them to it (The Soviets eventually sent a tortoise, of all things, in a spaceship called the Zond Seven). Apollo 8 wouldn't land, that would be left to Apollo 11.But the Apollo 8 crew would be the first humans to see the dark side of the moon. Out of the right hand window was the Earth, and 5 billion people. Out of the left, only God knows... They were the first people to see Earthrise (As opposed to moonrise or sunrise). 
All dialogue in the comic is taken directly from NASA broadcasts. We've left it exactly as is, resisting the temptation to rewrite it in any way. Whether or not the event was engineered by the NASA PR machine (And I suspect it probably was, to a certain extent. I'm sure there was a certain amount of content sign-off, shall we say?) the astronauts themselves have all written movingly of how they felt looking at the tiny, fragile Earth hanging in the sky in front of, and how the words of Genesis resonated.

LB: I love how you've taken ideas from the journey of the magi and applied it to something that has the same mind-blowing qualities. Through this and your work on the Bible, is it important to you to present the stories of the Bible in an accessible way?

MM: I do like to put the bible to people in a straightforward way, if I can.  But I think you also have to leave room for God to speak to other people in ways that might not make any sense to you, personally. Although the Christian message is essentially straightforward, life itself is messy and complicated.

LB: I think that will be the great thing about this exhibition- people  from a range of backgrounds will be able to portray their understanding of the Christmas story and I'm sure the results will be  varied! What has Advent meant to you over the years and will you be doing anything special in the run up to Christmas?

MM: I tend to get a bit carried away with the excitement of it all.
This year I'll be handing out free tea and coffee to commuters from 6AM Christmas morning. We've done this a few times, and it's a lovely thing to do. We're just handing out tea and coffee to people who are working on Christmas Eve, that's all. Just because it's Christmas. I mean yes, we're quite obviously from the church (Or a church at least) but it's just free tea and coffee  and have a Happy Christmas. Some of us will be back there from 5:00 to greet them off the train, hand out mince pies and sing carols.
What else... We're decorating our church. I've volunteered to go up the ladder. There's a service my wife and I are running. My wife is a lay minister in the Church of England. I think she's preaching on Christmas Day, so it'll be a bit of a rush to get out as usual.
Then of course there are presents to buy. My wife and one of my daughters have a birthday in December, so it's a busy time for me, present-wise.
Then there's carol singing, the Christmas fairs, the sourcing of an actual donkey for the late night shopping event (Highlight of the village year: Streets are shut, everyone turns out for mince pies and sherry) and that's all on top of the day job, which is ridiculously busy this time of year.
So yes, lots to do. On the plus side, I don't have to be Santa in the primary school this year. The rash you get from a cheap, sweaty acrylic beard after being stuck in a reindeer infested cupboard for a few hours is something else...