Extraordinary in the ordinary

Not long after the moveable feast of Easter this year, it seemed somewhat sudden that the first of the two May bank holidays was upon us.

In the old days, when Abingdon had a nightclub operating from Thursday to Sunday, it used to be worth working the taxi rank in the town centre on the Sunday before a bank holiday. But those days are gone - it is rarely even worth working at all on either the preceding Sunday or Bank Holiday Monday itself.

Pre-booked taxi jobs continue apace though at this time of year, for those who are fortunate enough to be travelling off to far-flung destinations.

 Saint Clement's Church, Oxford: Site 333 of ArtWeeks 2018

Saint Clement's Church, Oxford: Site 333 of ArtWeeks 2018

Indeed, I had been to Southampton Docks first thing on Sunday, to collect passengers back from a cruise to northern Spain.

The quality of their conversation about the incredible architecture and art of that region did not disappoint.

Another annual Oxfordshire tradition in May is ArtWeeks, where in East Oxford this year, 44 artists are opening their studios and homes for pop-up exhibitions of their art, 11 of them within half a mile of my church.

This will be the second year that I have participated as an artist, although obviously I don’t think of myself as an artist at all – I drive a taxi, for my living.

One thing which has been consistent throughout nine years of taxi driving has been the amount of waiting time, in between work; there is plenty of time to stop, park up and to take photographs.

While waiting, I was able to narrow 178 images down to a shortlist of nine, with one video, for my contribution as part of a collaborative exhibition at my church.

For someone like me, who has been self-employed for well over half a working lifetime, it is not an easy thing to be able to switch to working well with other people on a collaborative basis.

My contribution is an eclectic mix of photographs and a video on the theme of 'in this place'. It is a phrase often used by the rector, such as "we love to pray blessing in this place," when explaining that you can come up for a blessing, if you want, at Holy Communion.

Those of us who worship there on a week to week basis are very familiar with it. It is powerfully symbolic of the care taken to welcome those who might not be familiar with how we do things.

Art can have the power to make ordinary things seem extraordinary. For me, I simply record what is there and what it is that I see. That other people sometimes can see beauty in my photography is for me, a bonus.

So is the tea and cake, which is on offer at our exhibition at ArtWeeks Site 333.

And all thriving churches understand the importance of cake in effective Christian ministry.

As published in the Herald Series on Wednesday, 09 May 2018

  1. ArtWeeks, Site 333, St Clement's Church, Oxford, as retrieved 08 May 2018