Local artists take up residence in St Mary at the Quay, Ipswich as part of a fundraising drive

20 Jun 2012

Historic Ipswich Church, St Mary at Quay, is finding a new lease of life this summer as a temporary art gallery showcasing the work of five talented local artists. This artists in residency programme is part of a summer-long drive to raise £30,000 towards £142,000 required to take forward a  £4 million plus project that will transform the 14th century building into a groundbreaking community Wellbeing Heritage Centre. For the next month, the church’s formerly empty but beautiful nave will play host to a free to enter exhibition of sculpture, painting and installation art.  

Five Ipswich-based artists will be resident in St Mary at Quay until 13th July, and will use the church as both a gallery and studio, with two artists creating new works especially for the space. As such it represents a fascinating opportunity for people in Ipswich to observe contemporary artists in action at close quarters, while enjoying the tranquil setting of the church.

Sculptor Paul Fisk will be creating a new work inspired by the religious art of Indian Buddhism and Latin American Christianity in the form of a sand “Mandala” that will be built live in the church over the coming month. His ‘mandala’, taken from the Sanskrit word for ‘circle’, will be built in the space around the church font using coloured sand, rice and found objects.

LaLa, a young artist who is just about to graduate from University Campus Suffolk but whose art has already been published in The Guardian Online, will be experimenting with our fascination with mirrors in a new piece called ”I Confess”.

For the third exhibit, installation artist Sarah Sparkes and sound artist Andy Sharp will be teaming up to present a collaborative and interactive artwork “The Magical Library”. This work will see the artists create sound artworks about the rich history and contemporary life of the area around St Mary at Quay which visitors will be able to listen to while seated at a TARDIS-like booth in the church.

Finally, also presenting work in St Mary at Quay will be Lee Fisk, a local figurative artist who has been working for more than thirty years. He will be painting and exhibiting a new series of paintings based around the fragility of the human condition.

All of the art created and exhibited during the artists’ residency at St Mary at Quay will be for sale, with 30% of the sale price donated towards the church’s transformation into a Wellbeing Heritage Centre.

The project is a collaboration between mental health charity, Suffolk Mind and the Churches Conservation Trust, that will bring an ancient building back into regular use and preserve it for the long term benefit of everyone in the community. While telling the fascinating story of the Ipswich Waterfront, it will also act as an oasis of tranquillity in a busy town, providing a calm environment where visitors can take time out and access life-enriching community activities.

The artists’ residency at St Mary at Quay has been made possible by the support of construction services company, ISG, which has donated an electrical supply for the duration of the project, saving both charities estimated running costs of £6,000.

Peter Aiers, regional director of The Churches Conservation Trust, commented:

“It’s wonderful to see St Mary at Quay being used once again. When it was first built in the 14th century, going to church was the primary way in which most ordinary people would experience art. Churches were beautiful and mysterious places full of colour, ritual and mystery. I like to think that by opening up the church like this and welcoming in artists who are going to create such fascinating works, we’re conjuring up some of that same colour and mystery from the distant past while working to ensure the church has a sustainable future.”

Suffolk Mind’s business development director, Sue Gray, concluded:

“We’re excited to be involved in this unusual project, which we hope will find a new way to connect visitors with the history and cultural heritage of Ipswich. The sense of being grounded within your community, and the feeling of belonging that goes along with it, are essential components of everyone’s mental health and wellbeing. We hope that through this artists in residency project we can convey a sense of what the Community Wellbeing Centre will make possible while raising funds to take the project forward.”

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Read more about St Mary at the Quay, Ipswich

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