Monday, August 24, 2009

Another Place

Back in 2005, God called us on a journey out from Sheffield, out from all we’d learned from him there over the previous almost fifteen years; a journey that has brought us, eventually and by a circuitous route, to Liverpool.

The first stop on the journey was Perth, Western Australia, and the journey has been framed by two England Ashes victories: we arrived in Australia on the day England won the Ashes in 2005, and our arrival in Liverpool has coincided with winning them again in 2009.

At the weekend, we took a trip to Crosby Beach, next to the Liverpool Docks – a backdrop that reminded us of the docks at Fremantle.

The beach is also home to 100 iron body-casts of the sculptor Antony Gormley. Scattered across the sand (three kilometres along the beach, and up to almost a kilometre out into the sea), they stand looking out to the horizon, as the tides flow in and out, and the sun sets and rises over them. The installation is titled ‘Another Place.’ It explores the relationship between us and the environment: the way time and the elements shape us (erode us); the paradoxical way we both dig into place, and are drawn from it, longing for what we do not know.

That is a profoundly biblical experience: life as paradox held in tension; an existence that is both tied to the ground we are formed from, and inspired to journey beyond what we know. Gormley himself suggests that the overwhelming expanse of the sky calls into question the solidity of the earth: but biblical faith does not consider heaven to be more real than earth; rather it looks to the making-new of both.

At another point in the journey, I had to travel to London, where I took the opportunity to visit two other Gormley installations: ‘Event Horizon,’ which was another series of his body-casts, this time spread across the London skyline; and ‘Blind Light,’ an enclosed glass room filled with fog, in which visitors could walk, tentatively, disoriented, around – a perfect illustration of walking by faith and not by sight.

It is funny how on the journey we visit and re-visit place, Another Place...

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