Flowing Free

Mixed media installation 3m x 2m

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Flowing Free

Mixed media installation 3m x 2m
St John's church, Harpenden
June 2019

The second Cultivate Arts Festival took place from 23rd - 30th June 2019 in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. Celebrating the creative arts in all their forms, the festival’s theme this year was Generosity. Various locations across the town hosted exhibitions, installations, concerts, workshops, poetry and performances during the week-long festival.

This installation at St John’s church represented a fountain, a powerful, joyous image of generosity. In order to exist, the fountain has to give itself away; it is constantly regenerating itself, and its water provides refreshment and creates new life.

The fountain was made from hundreds of meters of donated material, with a recycled netball post as its main support structure.

Visitors were invited to explore the installation from three viewpoints within the church; the font - where people are baptised with water as they begin their journey in the Christian faith; by the Icon of St John the Baptist – who baptised Jesus in the river Jordan and called people to lead generous lives; and the altar – where we remember Jesus’ Last Supper with his friends before his death on the cross, in his ultimate act of generosity. Visual and narrative display boards were created for each of these locations.

The installation was the setting for a programme of talks, poetry readings and concerts throughout the week, all on the subject of generosity.

The project involved the help and support of a number of groups from the wider community. A 70-strong team of artists, musicians, poets, guest speakers, bakers, installers and welcomers generously shared their talents to make this a truly collaborative event. Various local groups including Brownies, Rainbows and Faith & Light all helped in the preparation of the materials. 420 children from the local Primary school visited throughout the week to explore the themes of water and generosity through music, games and stories around the installation.

Visitors were invited to ‘keep generosity flowing’ by adding droplets to the installation, with their personal thoughts or images about generosity, and over 500 droplets mirrored the fountain as they ‘flowed’ over the arches of the side aisles towards the altar.

Visitors’ comments included: ‘Stunning – so uplifting and inspirational’, ‘Magical’, ‘Beautiful choice of colours and textures’, ‘Loved the way the children had been involved’ and ‘Wonderful welcome from the volunteers – thank you.’

Sadly, due to COVID-19, Cultivate 2020, on the theme of Connections, had to be postponed.

All images © liz sergeant