A Jewish and a Muslim artist have contributed to a new exhibition that explores the last week of Jesus’ life.
Until 20 May, St Edmund’s Roundhay is the venue for a four-week exhibition, Stations of the Cross, which features the work of 14 Leeds-based artists, each reflecting one of the stages of Jesus’ journey to the cross, opening up fresh insights on a familiar narrative.
Gillian Holding, who is a Jew, was given the station featuring the condemnation of Jesus. She says, “This episode presents a particular challenge for a Jewish artist as it lies at the root of the history of Christian anti-semitism, and exploring the gospels’ accounts, in the light of what was to follow, was slightly disconcerting. But it was also a hugely rewarding process. For Jews, Jesus only makes sense as a historical figure but I'm interested by the way his teachings reflect the social justice message of the prophets, and how the accounts of the gospels reflect Jewish practices of the time.”
Other artists come from a range of Christian traditions, other faiths or no faith. Sculptor Jon Vogler, a member of St Edmund's, says, "Art seeks to visualise the unimaginable. Since the Middle Ages, the Stations of the Cross have helped believers imagine how one man confronted agony, despair and the finality of death to redeem broken humanity."
Iman Meghraoua is a Muslim, and she was given the last station of the cross, when Christ is placed in the tomb. She says, “The prophet Jesus is mentioned 25 times by name in the Holy Quran, so our scripture honours this mighty Messenger of God, as do Muslims.
“It was a really enriching experience to explore techniques used in the life time of the prophet – eg a mud-made bread oven (still used in the region), carving and calligraphy. I chose natural materials that come from the earth to confirm the Muslim understanding of the human nature of prophet Jesus.
“Into the plaster I carved a Quranic verse which talks about the birth and death of the prophet, confirming his immortality. I used the Alhambra technique of carving because this style was used during the golden age of the three religions when they all lived in peace.”
Gillian Holding adds, “My work explores conflict and the everyday, questioning my own prejudices and beliefs. I’ve become convinced of the need to listen to and understand those we don’t know in order to find peace, and I know that inter-faith and inter-community dialogue is as important in Leeds as anywhere else. I think being honest about our own prejudices is a vital first step in overcoming the general intolerance many people face on a daily basis.”
Exhibition curator Si Smith says: "Our aim is to stimulate some thinking and discussion about the significance of the Easter story today, rather than seeking to provide pat answers. The exhibition will help people to reflect on how we make sense of the Christian tradition which has never hidden from the issue of suffering."
The exhibition, which includes sculpture, painting, video, installation and drawing, will run from 26 April to 20 May at St Edmund's, Lidgett Park Road, Roundhay LS8 1JN
Information on exhibition opening times here: