A prestigious art exhibition is coming to the Focolare Centre for Unity during Lent and Easter 2024. Paul Gateshill reports.

[New City Magazine – July 2023, page 20-21]

When I was the Religious Education Adviser in Surrey, I became involved with an art exhibition that came to Woking. It was the Methodist Modern Art Collection (MMAC) and I was asked to involve Surrey primary and secondary schools, through visits to the event and workshops with a local artist in residence. It was a great success, so when the opportunity came to host it at the Focolare Centre for Unity in Welwyn Garden City, we welcomed it with open arms. This was set to take place in 2020… However, Covid struck.

What is the Methodist Modern Art Collection?

One of the art world’s unexpected treasures, including some of the most powerful and arresting religious art of the 20th and 21st centuries.
— Tim Marlow, Chief Executive and Director of the Design Museum, London, and former Artistic Director of the Royal Academy

MMAC was put together in the early 1960s by Dr John Morel Gibbs, a Methodist layman and art collector. It contains paintings, limited edition prints and reliefs by key figures from British 20th century art, such as Edward Burra, Elisabeth Frink, Patrick Heron and Graham Sutherland.

In more recent years the Collection has acquired works by artists from the world church, including Jyoti Sahi from India, Sadao Watanabe from Japan and John Muafangejo from Namibia.

Still expanding, works by contemporary artists such as Craigie Aitchison, Peter Howson, Susie Hamilton, Clive Hicks-Jenkins and Maggi Hambling have been acquired, and today the Collection comprises 50 works.

The Collection, in whole or in part, is available as a touring exhibition. It has travelled widely and has appeared in town and city galleries, cathedrals, churches and schools over the years.

So why have the MMAC at the Focolare Centre for Unity?

Having the exhibition at the Centre will be an opportunity to open the doors to the general public – to people who have never been to the Centre. Alongside the exhibition there will be weekly lectures and a community café. There will be a particular focus on schools and church communities with workshops and retreats. It is an ambitious undertaking and the organising committee has been working on this for the last 18 months.

Date of exhibition:

1st March – 7th April 2024

Focolare Centre for Unity, 69 Parkway, Welwyn Garden City AL8 6JG

Picture: ©Richard Bavin, The Empty Tomb, ©courtesy of MMAC


March 1st, 2024|0 Comments

Over the last three months, Pat Kane has explored some of the works of art from the Methodist Modern Art Collection which is being exhibited this month at the Focolare Centre for Unity.

The Empty Tomb by Richard Bavin

January 2nd, 2024|0 Comments

Over the next three months Pat Kane explores some of the exhibits coming to the Focolare Centre for Unity in March 2024. These form part of the impressive Methodist Modern Art Collection.

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