The Revd Jim Craig sets to work on his image of the Millenium Bridge and Sage Gateshead inside the St Edmund's Chapel - Gateshead.

 The Revd Jim Craig sets to work on his image of the Millenium Bridge and Sage Gateshead inside the St Edmund's Chapel - Gateshead.

The Revd Jim Craig sets to work on his image of the Millenium Bridge and Sage Gateshead inside the St Edmund’s Chapel – Gateshead.
A challenging show of modern art work is being brought to the North East by an Anglican chaplain who works specifically in the arts field. The Revd Jim Craig is the Arts Chaplain for Gateshead and Bensham in the Diocese of Durham and will bring a show of graffiti art to Sanctuary Artspace, a gallery at St Edmund’s Chapel, on May 18. It’s the latest initiative in a career which has seen him marry the power of arts and religion. He said: “I have always been passionate about the arts, having came to faith whilst studying at art college in the early 1990s. “I was ordained in 2002 and went to serve my title in the Team Ministry of Christ the King, Stanley. One day, I saw an advert in the Church Times for the post of Community Arts Chaplain in the parishes of Gateshead and Bensham and jumped at the chance to return to my creative roots. “The role was the brainchild of the two parishes themselves. As witnesses to the regeneration of the Gateshead Quayside, including the opening of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in 2002 and the Sage Gateshead in 2004, the two parishes wanted to make the arts more accessible to the people of the town. “When I arrived in 2005, I made it my first priority to help people access these professional arts environments, and organised tours and free workshops in the Baltic, Sage and the Shipley Art Gallery. “I strongly believe that engaging with the arts is like accepting an invitation to see our lives from a different perspective.“ [expand-contract expand-title=”Read-More” swaptitle=”Close” trigclass=”expand-highlight” trigpos=”below” tag=”readon”] For the past three years, the main focal point of his work as Arts Chaplain has been Sanctuary Artspace, a gallery which installed along the north wall of St Edmund’s Chapel in 2010. He said: “St Edmund’s is the perfect venue for a gallery – it has a strong strategic position on the High Street and is the town’s oldest building. The gallery was built as a direct response to the lack of exhibition space in the town, and provided the congregation with a new catalyst for its mission to the High Street. Sanctuary Artspace has been endorsed by many artists in the North East, and has hosted the Sky Arts-sponsored The Late Shows series of events for the past three years. “For the past two years, we have hosted top national DJs and graffiti demonstrations at The Late Shows, and Ghetto Method Collective will be returning with more of the same on 18th May.” The May 18 show is the third time the Gateshead Parish has collaborated with the Ghetto Method Collective on the Late Shows festival. The Late Shows 2013 will take place on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 May. The show Dubtronic Sanctuary takes place on the Saturday night from 7 – 11pm. Further information can be found at http://www.thelateshows.org.uk/venues/sanctuary-artspace.html For the Revd Craig, there are many links between appreciating art and religion. He said: “I am convinced that the only way to enjoy truly discover one’s creativity is to ignore the fear of getting it wrong and complete the task at hand entirely for your own pleasure. In my experience writers block, or whatever the artist’s equivalent is, only happens when someone forgets their childlike playfulness and tries too hard to emulate a style or voice which is not their own. “There are many correlations here with spirituality – for I meet so many people afraid of asking the big questions about their faith for the fear that they will lose face with their neighbours. The ethos of all my work is very straightforward – all God demands of us is that we be ourselves, fully. “The presence of an Arts Chaplain in an economically-deprived diocese has been questioned throughout the eight years I have been in post. My hope is that more people will come to see the arts less as an intellectual commodity and more of a means of personal and spiritual liberation.” Commenting at a recent art session [where the accompanying picture were taken] the Revd Craig said: “I’ve spent most of my time as Arts Chaplain encouraging and nurturing creativity in others, but I really enjoyed getting my paints out. Exploring my own creativity has always felt rather indulgent compared to the usual tasks that fill up my daily to-do list, but this has given me lots ideas about how to creatively engage with the congregation during services. “I left this painting of Gateshead’s Millennium bridge up on the wall of the gallery and only put the finishing touches to it during the Sunday morning Eucharist. There was also baptism and I spoke to the parents and godparents about God’s creation as an unfinished work of art which God entrusts us to complete through our journey of faith. I told them how preciously an artist guards his reputation, and how hard I would find it to have a painting of mine on display that I handed over for someone else to finish, but this is exactly what Christ did in passing the responsibility for the church to the apostles.” [/expand-contract]