Faith and the Artist / by LW

Spurred by a conversation with the lovely RAD about the nature of faith - in particular, discussing how people position themselves in regards to differing views about the place of religion in human existence - I spent much of a five-hour train trip today pondering the connection between faith and artistic production.

I am a-religious. I was brought up in a non-religious household. At age twelve I was offered a free place at the local Christian camp for a week. I can distinctly recall sitting in chapel there, singing along to children's hymns, and thinking "everyone here seems really happy believing in God!" And so I decided then and there that I was going to believe in God. I tried really really hard to believe, for the entire week, and was quite sorely disappointed when it just didn't work. I then attended an Anglican secondary school, and whilst the faith itself had little meaning to me, the contemplative space of our weekly chapel services was something I looked forward to.

So, where does faith sit for those of us who don't carry a religion? In these musings today I began to see a link between artistic production and faith: my entire career, my creative outputs, rely on a form of faith. Within my practice, though levels of logic and reasoning are involved, my experience is that decisions are primarily made on gut-responsive intuition. And I, as artist, must have faith in this intuition, this sense of 'otherness'* that permeates the work and the decision-making. I rely on this faith to know that it will all work out, despite insecurities, anxieties and the laws of time (that for some reason just stop applying when things get crazy). And, whilst this is not at all a religion, I imagine that perhaps this intuition, this often blind faith in where the work is going, may be reminiscent of the feeling of God's presence to those who hold him.

So, the thought occurs that perhaps, at age twelve, I couldn't believe because I had always known that I would be an artist.

*this is interesting considering that much of my PhD is based around the idea of an 'otherness' in the work, of a liveliness in it that goes beyond my input as artist; that which I call a 'shimmer'...