Education and Events

ACE organises lectures, study days, conferences, workshops and retreats. These have taken place both in the UK and internationally in partnership a wide variety of groups and individuals.

ACE offers three main types of educational events:

  • Clergy and lay study days. Usually organised within a diocese these study days offer an introduction to the visual arts in churches, ways of seeing theologically and practical approaches to working with artists.
  • Regional meetings. These build on the membership of ACE within a particular geographical area but are open to anyone. They offer insights from artists, curators and clergy with experience of the visual arts within churches and are an opportunity to share best practice and networks.
  • Residential courses. ACE is able to offer lecturers and curricula for residential courses within theological training colleges, study centres and universities. We have experience in teaching short modules at Sarum College and Ripon College Cuddesdon. Generic programmes for study are available on request.

A reading list of books and journals in the field of art and religion can be downloaded here.

Forthcoming ACE events

‘Let the glory through’: an exploration of sacred art and spaces for worship. 

Sunday 26 - Wednesday 29 March, 2017

This short course is designed to give participants the opportunity to both engage with Christian art and to reflect through class presentations and discussion how art is perceived. Each day will balance theoretical input with visits to see art in churches, galleries, and chapels in Oxford. We will examine the contexts in which Christian art is viewed, suggest ways of how we may reflect theologically on contemporary art, and look at the place of art in churches within its architectural and liturgical context. 

The course will be led by ACE trustees and colleauges: Christopher Irvine, Alison Milbank, Sophie Hacker, Stephen Stavrou and Laura Moffatt. 

All are welcome to attend, lay and ordained.

The all-inclusive cost of this residential short course is £225.

To book or for any further information or queries, please contact Keith Glenny by email or phone, 01865 877417.


Previous ACE events

ACE regional meeting

A day of discussions and presentations to share best practice, projects and networks. The day will include tours of the Cathedral's art as well as an optional visit to Pallant House Gallery.

Speakers include: Naomi Billingsley (Bishop Otter Scholar), Anthony Cane (Canon Chancellor), Simon Martin (Artistic Director, Pallant House Gallery, Martin Poole (St Luke’s Brighton) and Bishop Martin Warner. 

Tuesday 1 November 2016 10am – 3.30pm, The Bishop's Palace, Chichester

Spike Bucklow: art and materiality

A lecture by the winner of the ACE/Mercers' International Book Award on The Riddle of the Image (Reaktion, 2014)

6.30pm Wednesday 19 October 2016, St Giles-in-the-Fields, London

ACE's 13th international ACE conference on the theme of  ‘The Artist as Pilgrim, Saint, Scholar?’ co-hosted by ASI (Arts and Spirituality in Ireland)

4-8 July, 2016, Dublin, Ireland

Ireland was known as the island of saints and scholars, a reputation that probably derives from the golden era of Celtic Christianity in the later centuries of the first Christian Millennium. This period saw the creation of large monasteries, places of learning, and extraordinary art works and artefacts associated with Christianity. The creators of this heritage in due course became pilgrims and scholars bringing to mainland Europe the gift of re-evangelisation during and following the dark ages.  Later again, the art and scholarship of several European countries (eg. Spain, France, Belgium and Italy) became nourishing sources for Irish Christianity during centuries of persecution and suppression at home. And so the wheel turned, until today when a post-Christian Europe poses a new challenge to artists and people of faith alike. These events provide perspectives we can use as background to reflection and celebration on the place of art and artists in 21st-century Christian life.
How can the 21st-century artist relate to the saintly and scholarly life of the early monks in re-evangelising the many post-Christian parts of the world as we now find it? For many artists, life can be viewed as an invitation to pilgrimage, to a quest for a version of truth that speaks to our time. Indeed the public seem to trust artists as source of truth and inspiration/revelation, in a broad sense. The conference aims to explore the life of art and artists in the churches through the Christian and post-Christian cycles of the last millennium and to celebrate the saints, scholars, artists, mystics, and pilgrims that have brought enlightenment and share this journey with us.

Keynote speakers: Marcus Coates (artist) and Abbot Mark Patrick Hederman (Abbot of Glanstal Abbey Co Limerick).

Art and Theology – a short course at Cuddesdon Study Centre

Sunday 10-13 April, 2016

This short course is designed to give participants the opportunity to both engage with religious art and to reflect through class presentations and discussion how religious art is perceived. Each day will balance theoretical input with visits to see religious art in the churches, galleries, and chapels in Oxford. We  examine the contexts in which religious art is viewed, suggest ways of how we may reflect theologically on contemporary art, and look at the place of art in churches and other places of worship.

The course is led by Art and Christianity Enquiry (ACE) staff and trustees: Graham Howes, Alison Milbank, Sophie Hacker and Laura Moffatt.

ACE Regional meeting, Southwell Cathedral 27 January, 10.30 - 4pm

A meeting of ACE members and others at Southwell Cathedral to coincide with the exhibition 'The Art of Mary'. The day included contributions from The Very Revd Peter Bradley (Dean of Sheffield), Nicholas Mynheer (artist), Ben Stoker (Church development officer, Lincoln Diocese), John Newling (artist) and Matthew Askey (priest and painter).

Discussion | sharing best practice | contemporary art's role in churches and cathedrals | new art commissions

A Light Shines in the Darkness – A symposium on presenting artists' film and video works in churche, cathedrals and heritage buildings

12-4.30pm, Tuesday 23 June 2015

Weston Room, Norwich Cathedral

How do artists approach integrating sacred sites into the subject matter of their work or as sites for showing their works? How do church communities and curators of heritage buildings encourage artists to make film works for their particular context?

Speakers included: 

Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton (Secretary General , AICA International, President of the International Association of Art Critics UK; formerly National Director of Visual Arts at Arts Council England)

Richard Davey (art critic and Chaplain to Nottingham Trent University)

Peter Doll, (Canon Librarian at Norwich Cathedral)

Julia Porter-Pryce (Vicar of St Peter's De Beauvoir Town and arts coordinator for the London Diocese's Capital Vision 2020). 

Attendance is free but please register by emailing before 19 June or call 020 7033 9481. 

Organised by ACE and Film and Video Umbrella (FVU is supported by Arts Council England).

ACE Regional meeting in the north west:

A meeting in Chester co-hosted by the Arts and Faith Group in the Chester Diocese.

Discussion | sharing best practice | presentation of film & video art in churches | guided tour of art in the Cathedral | lunch included

Wednesday 11 March 2015, 10.30am – 4pm
Bishop’s House, Chester

ACE/ASK Conference 7-11 July 2014 

'The Sacred City: London, art and the religious imaginary'

William Blake famously hoped to see “Jerusalem builded here” in London. But he was hardly the first or the last creative mind to imagine a new metropolis.  In the days after the Great Fire of 1666, Christopher Wren, the great architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral, drafted a bold, utopian design for the City of London that was never realized. The performance of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah is an annual London tradition which began in the composer’s lifetime.  For the novelist Emmanuel Litvinoff, the East London of the late 19th and early 20th Century, all but obliterated during the Blitz, was both a grimy a Jewish ghetto and a Garden of Eden.  In the Lonely Londoners, Sam Selvon gave us the figure of Moses, the leader of a ragtag group of Caribbean immigrants making their way in 1950s London.  More recently, the young British artist Mark Wallinger filmed himself reciting backwards the opening lines of the Gospel of John on the escalator of the Angel tube station.  These are only a few of the various ways in which London has been both the site and subject of the religious imaginary.  In this conference, we invite participants to explore the unique intersections between art and religion in a city which has increasingly become not only a new Jerusalem but also another Mecca, Benares and Amritsar. 

Public lectures:

The Revd Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields
Turning All into Alleluia: Arts and the Renewal of St Martin-in-the-Fields
Tuesday 8 July, 6.30pm St Giles Cripplegate, Fore Street, London EC2Y 8DA

Professor Alison Milbank, Associate Professor of Literature and Theology 
at the University of Nottingham
Visualising London through the Eyes of Dante
Wednesday 9 July, 6.30pm St James Piccadilly, 197 Piccadilly, London WC1J 9LL

The conference included specialist guided tours to the National Gallery, the V&A, churches and places of worship in central and east London.

The ACE/Mercers' International Book Award was also announced during the week at the prize-giving ceremony at St Giles-in-the-Fields.

The ACE / ASK Artists’ Talks series

‘Investigating the Shadows’ – Anna Freeman-Bentley in conversation with Professor Ben Quash

Anna Freeman Bentley is a London-based artist whose painting and site specific work employs images of architectural environments that explore the emotive potential of space and its associations with longing and memory.

6-7.30pm, 2 February 2015, Room VWB3.01 in the Virginia Woolf Building, 22 Kingsway, London WC2B 6LE.

James Hugonin – Contrary Rhythm

The painter and joint winner of the current ACE Award for Art in a Religious Context talks about his work in glass for St John’s Church, Healey

Thursday 20 March 2014, 6.30 – 8.30pm
St John's Church, Pitfield Street, Hoxton, London N1 6NP
Wheelchair accessible, nearest tube Old Street and Hoxton Overground
Free | refreshments served afterwards

Co-hosted by ASK (the Research Centre for Arts and the Sacred at King’s) and AICA UK (the International Association of Art Critics)

Download a flyer here

Susie Hamilton – Riddled with light

Susie Hamilton is a highly acclaimed figurative painter represented by the Paul Stolper Gallery whose work is in the Methodist Art Collection as well those of Deutsch Bank and Bernard Jacobson. In her talk, she related her work to ideas of nature, art and God.

26 November, 6.30pm at St Mary-le-Strand, Strand, London WC2R 1ES

Download the flyer here

Blue Like Me – The Art of Siona Benjamin

Siona Benjamin is a painter originally from Bombay, now living in the US.
Her work reflects her background of being brought up Jewish in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim India. In her paintings she combines the imagery of her past with the role she plays in America today, making a mosaic inspired by both Indian miniature paintings and Sephardic icons.

Thursday 13 June 2013
6.30-8.30pm in the Council Room, Strand building, King’s College London

An event hosted by Art & Christianity Enquiry (ACE) and the centre for
Arts and the Sacred at King’s (ASK) and in association with AICA UK.

ACE bus tour! Discover how architecture and art have shaped contemporary church communities

On the morning of 29 May, ACE ventured from the Hay Festival on a guided bus tour with the Rt Revd Dr David Stancliffe of Abbey Dore, Kilpeck and Clodock churches ending at Peterchurch for lunch and Pimms.

ACE/Mercers' Book Award lecture

14 May, 6.15-8pm in the Council Room, Strand building at King's College London, Margot Fassler, winner of the ACE/Mercers' International Book Award will give a lecture on Hildegard and the Virtues:
The Visual and the Musical in the Ordo Virtutum’.

Download a flyer for this event

ACE international conference 2012 – Art and Christianity in Revolutionary Times
9 – 13 July, Boston, Massachussetts

A full conference report has been published in Art & Christianity no71. Visit our A&C Journal page for more details.

Q&A – Urban Dialogues and the visual arts
28 November, 2012 Red Gallery, London

An ACE event to explore the dialogue between faith, art and identity organised in conjunction with the 3FF Urban Dialogues exhibition

Speakers included Aaron Rosen (lecturer in Sacred Traditions and the Arts, KCL), Nina Danino (artist and lecturer at Goldsmiths College) and Rosalind Parker, curator of the Urban Dialogues exhibition.

A special screening of Nina Danino's latest film Communion took place.

ACE and the Three Faiths Forum – Faith and the City
21 Nov – 5 Dec 2011, London

For the second year running, the Three Faiths Forum together with the ACE, JCC for London and Maslaha delivered a vibrant contemporary arts festival celebrating intercultural friendship during National Interfaith Week.

Over the past year, artists from different backgrounds have been collaborating on visual art projects, creating works that explore faith relations and how people from different communities can bring about social change. This provided the stimulus and backdrop for two weeks of events including workshops, seminars, women-only days, school linking days, and social action events.

Collaborating artists: Soraya Syed Sanders, Francesca Ulivari, Orly Orbach, Edward Johansson  Mukhtar Sanders, Hannah ‘Habibi’ Hopkin, Emer Costello, Mo Negm, Camilla Howalt. Curated by Victoria Burgher.

Tracey Emin's For you, 9 December 2010, Liverpool Cathedral

A reception open to all to mark the Award given to Liverpool Cathedral for their commission by Tracey Emin and to launch ACE's publication Contemporary art in British churches.

The Challenge of the Permanent Commission
16 November 2010, All Hallows on the Wall

A panel discussion between contemporary artists and 'commissioners'

The panel includes artists Mark Cazalet, Iain McKillop and Victoria Rance and Director of Modus Operandi, Vivien Lovell, Revd Canon Anthony Cane from Chichester Cathedral.
In the chair, Paul Bayley, Art in Churches Officer for Art and Christianity Enquiry.

Prof Mia M Mochizuki – The legacy of iconoclasm for the image
19 November 2010, The Courtauld Institute of Art

Winner of the 2009 ACE/Mercers’ International Book Award for 'The Netherlandish Image after Iconoclasm, 1566-1672; Material Religion in the Dutch Golden Age' (Ashgate, 2008), Dr Mochizuki considered the legacy of iconoclasm for the image. By taking the long view of cast off or 'thrown away' objects and the objects they stimulated she explored the rhetorical performance of doubt that iconoclasm interjected into the realm of the visual and what this anxiety offers the criticism of the material manifestations of belief.                              

Interfaith Arts Festival
November 2010, Candid Arts

The Three Faiths Forum hosted a vibrant contemporary arts festival celebrating inter-cultural friendship and collaboration. Bringing together a wide range of both interfaith and single faith organisations, and featuring everything from an exciting opening night with live music and performances to workshops and dialogue during the week, the festival at Candid Arts Gallery in Angel was part of National Interfaith Week 2010.

ACE International conference 2009 – Image(s) and Ethic(s)/L'ethic de l'image
6 – 10 July 2009, Strasbourg, France

The conference programme included keynote lectures by Jérome Cottin and Sarah Wilson; excursions to Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, Colmar and museums and places of worship in Strasbourg.

Icons of the absence of God: A symposium on Rothko and spirituality
24 January 2009, King's College London

Does Rothko offer consolation to a godless world? Where lies the enigma of Rothko’s paintings?

To coincide with a major exhibition of Mark Rothko’s work at Tate Modern, this symposium critically reviewed different interpretations of these works, and how they speak to their social and cultural context, from the perspectives of cultural history, neuro-science, art history and theology.

Chaired by Ben Quash, Professor of Christianity and the Arts, KCL.

Click on papers below to download a pdf

Aaron Rosen: Finding Rothkowitz: The Jewish Rothko

Jonathan Harris: Mark Rothko's good paintings about nothing

Daniel Glaser: Can neurobiology tell you how you feel about a picture? (unavailable)

George Pattison: After an end: unsaying painting>

ACE Awards events 2008

Stephen Cox in conversation with Robert Willis (Dean of Canterbury), Stephen Bann (Professor of Art History at the University of Bristol) and Christopher Irvine (Canon Librarian at Canterbury Cathedral). 12 Sep, 7.30pm at the ISC, Canterbury Cathedral. Read a transcript in issue 56 of 'Art and Christianity'.

Rose Finn-Kelcey discussed her work and the award-winning installation Angel with ACE's art in churches officer Paul Bayley. Ellard and Johnstone also presented a film work. 25 Sep, 6.30pm at St Paul's Bow Common, London E3.

Book award winner Jules Lubbock gave an illustrated lecture on Stories of Justice in 14th-Century Art. 20 Oct, 6pm at the Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Strand, London WC2.

Peter Doll (Team Vicar of Abingdon) and Peter Newby (Priest of St Mary Moorfields, London) on Building a temple for the third millennium; new directions in church architecture. 25 Oct, 2.30pm at St Bede's Basingstoke.

2007 International conference: Art, Faiths and Culture – Convergence and Conflict
2 – 6 July, Trinity Hall, Cambridge

The conference programme included contributions from Duncan Robinson (Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum), Edmund de Waal and Eamon Duffy; an interfaith forum; visits to Ely Cathedral and the Henry Moore Foundation; and an evening reception at Kettle's Yard.

A full report of conference papers was published in no 52 (Oct 07) of Art and Christianity. Download the pdf here.

Faith and Architecture in a multi-faith world
13 March 2007, Ladywood ARC, Birmingham

A seminar exploring Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Muslim places of worship, and buildings that are shared by people of different faiths.

Morning Session: Religious buildings in Ladywood; new build for 4 different faith communities

Afternoon session: Under one roof; tackling the challenge of multi-faith buildings

See issue no 50 (Apr 07) of ‘Art & Christianity’ for a report.

Velázquez and Religion
9 December 2006, National Gallery, London

The session was introduced by Dawson Carr, curator of Velázquez and speakers included David Jasper from the Dept of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Glasgow, Sara Nalle from William Paterson University, New Jersey and Ronald Truman, Christchurch, Oxford.

Abstraction and figuration in religious art
20 August 2006, City Art Centre, Edinburgh

This event marked the success of Still by Alison Watt, the painting that won the ACE Art Award 2005/6. Prof David Jasper gave a paper on the above theme.

Art, Religion and Community – an interfaith perspective
1 May 2006, National Portrait Gallery

How do the Abrahamic faiths use art and architecture to create a sense of identity? What are their distinct features, and where are they similar? Can their art and architecture foster a sense of belonging today? How do contemporary artists use (and abuse) religious themes?

Speakers: Rachel Garfield has a PhD on contemporary Jewish identity in the visual arts in Britain. She is herself an artist currently making interview-based work that explores the cultural narratives of Jewish people in the community.

Thalia Kennedy is a lecturer and writer who focuses on the architecture of the Islamic world. She recently completed her PhD in which she explored issues of identity and religion through the buildings of medieval South Asia.

Charles Pickstone is an Anglican parish priest who is also a writer and art critic, with a particular interest in the ways that Christian communities use art to develop their theology and in the use that secular artists make of Christian themes.

See our listings page for current exhibitions and events.