Sandra Atkinson’s study of a fisherman’s nets, reels and floats is vibrantly colourful. The curves of the reels, the geometrics of the netting, and the slanting colours provide a satisfying feast for the eyes. The chosen, and famous, verse is ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men’ (Matthew 4:19). What, it asks, are the tools for that? What should you, as a Christian, be doing?
Ron Thompson’s becalmed boat on Italy’s Lake Garda is a much quieter piece, true to its chosen verse (‘Be still, and know that I am God’, Psalm 46:10). Darkening lends a softly sombre tone. Yet through the gap in the mountains we’re drawn to glimpses of blue, an invitation to calmness. However you feel, it says, amid all your busyness, remember God and regain your focus.
Penny Sidebotham studies the beguiling fragility of a spider’s web. The web, held left, right and bottom by leaves, roundly fills the frame. It’s a pleasing image. A spider’s web looks spectacular, magic even, and has a strength of sorts. But here dew gives it a droopy look, as if it’s moments away from breaking. Hence the verse: ‘Such is the fate of all who forget God…what he relies on is a spider’s web’ (Job 8:13-14). Our lives may feel magical, strong, exciting. But who or what are we really relying on?
Christine Gower provides a luscious image of full-to-bursting grapes amid broad and angular leaves. Sun washes over, dapples of shadow adding depth. Opting away from ‘I am the true vine’, the verse is the apocalyptic ‘gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe’ (Revelation 14:18). Ripeness (kairos) is a key Biblical theme: God waits till the time is right. But will we, like the grapes, be ready?
Oxford’s Edwina Towson was the competition winner. Deceptively simple, it’s an early morning shot taken in Nice, of a solitary boat on the sea, shingle and sand between us and the boatman. Bands of colour and texture ripple down from sky to water to sand. The other photographs are pictures of the things in them: this shows something that happened before we got there. Hundreds of footprints pit the sand. ‘The crowd that gathered round [Jesus] was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake while all the people were along the shore’. The crowd is gone, Jesus is still there as if waiting. In the peace of this picture, it’s just you and him. A stirring yet comfortingly unsettling experience.
All credit to the diocese for this lovely little exhibition. Churches can borrow them for display. These photos can refresh your spirit. And who doesn’t need that?