What happened to beauty?

Floral Patterned Wallpaper, late 18th century, JB Reveillon Hand Block Printing

Floral Patterned Wallpaper, late 18th century, JB Reveillon Hand Block Printing

Today I walked around an art gallery in Manchester. The first exhibition displayed a collection of 19th Century wallpaper designs. The gallery highlighted beautiful floral designs, hand painted countryside scenes and amazing uses of metallic foil and hand block printing.

There was a realism in the designs that could only be created through time given observing and appreciating creation. The detail was exquisite, from the shading, to the tiny brush strokes, every element reflected beauty.


However stepping into the next gallery you couldn’t help but notice the contrast between the 19th Century art and the 20th & 21st Century displays. Now I realise everything has its place but it was hard not to notice how stripped of beauty the modern art was.

Image: Barry Anthony Finan,  YES I WANNT TO DO TRRICKSSERRS , 2016

Image: Barry Anthony Finan, YES I WANNT TO DO TRRICKSSERRS, 2016

Much of the art was subversive in nature. It reflected anger and politics, it was provocative and much of the art existed to make a statement to the audience. While the art served its purpose it certainly felt devoid of the beauty of previous years.

Reflecting on Christian art I couldn’t help but draw the same parallels. You know what I mean: the cheesy one line slogans, the reduction of theology for bite sized nuggets. I feel somewhere along the line Christian art fell into the same trap becoming a tool to make statements at the expense of beauty.

The Renaissance

However it feels like those days are over and the dawn has begun to break for a new kind of art. We are entering a time of renaissance in the Christian art world and we are beginning to rediscover that beauty once lost. 

Like the hymn writers of old who penned amazing words; or poets who caught the depths of God’s glory and beauty - we are rediscovering the beauty of the Gospel and the joy of relationship with a Heavenly Father.

“Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scripture to us?” - Luke 24 v 32

In a world full of noise, cynicism and confusion we are a generation returning to our first love. Like walking through a forest or spending an evening at a friends house - our hearts are beginning to come alive again to the joys of following Jesus.

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We are a new generation of artists and creators with a love for scripture, we are the worshippers who have seen the beauty of Jesus and will give up everything to pursue Him. We are the artists with hope-filled eyes and childlike hearts - we are the songbirds who will sing, dance and worship to reflect the beauty of God to a world void of beauty.

We are the revivalists with guitars and paintbrushes in hand. We reject endless de-construction and cynicism, our hearts are full with simple Christianity. It’s not slogans and hype. We have tasted and seen the goodness of God and we can’t help but overflow with creativity.