evangelism as art/art as evangelism

by julie

I was invited to perform at the Creative Change Northern Ireland Exhibition today in Downpatrick. (http://www.creativechangeni.com) Bronagh Lawson had asked that I transport my practice to Downpatrick and I was really interested to test the work outside of Belfast.

I brought a selection of the tracts I have produced so far and set myself up at a bench around the corner from the St. Patrick Centre where the exhibition was being shown. In Belfast I pick locations used by street preachers or evangelists but I don’t know much about Downpatrick and so I picked this spot as it was practical and a nice mix of shade so I could see properly and sun so I wasn’t too cold. It was a popular spot as I was joined by two charity collectors during my hour and a quarter.

After a clumsy start which involved chasing some tracts down the street after they blew away I settled into my normal routine. I began to realise that although I still find giving the tracts out in Belfast scary, that I recognise a lot of the people who pass by and find this reassuring in a way. It is a familiar rejection rather than an unknown one.  In Downpatrick I felt a little lost. It was also odd as there are so many visible churches in Downpatrick and on my journey there.

A few people stopped to ask what the tracts were and one lady took a Love of Baking tract and sent her friend back to get the others, she thought they were all recipes and wanted the full set, I reached for the others to hand them to her but explained they aren’t all recipes so she walked away without a word!

A young man walked past and asked what they were I again was holding a Love of Baking tract and said it was a story and a recipe, he took it and when he passed by again later he said good work. Another lady stopped to say her grand-daughter makes buns but she doesn’t give them away she sells them. And she finished by saying how pleased she was to meet have met me.

When giving out the other tracts I felt more unsure of the reaction I would receive. It was obvious people recognised them as religious literature as so many people looked at them and moved away or gave dirty looks as they passed. I feel a little out of practice in giving the tracts out as I have given more time over to reading and writing than I have done for a while. I am waiting to hear if I will get an interview for a PhD which would allow me to continue this project and really build on its criticality and focus. Once I hear I will add the proposal i wrote to the blog, for now here are some images from today.

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