Call to Holy Ground by artists Fourthland (Isik Sayarer and Eva Knutsdottir) is a call to create a new scripture of the earth between faiths, generations and across cultures, an alternative ‘common ground’ or collective field of trust, sanctuary in nature and hope for a sustainable future.
Commissioned by Art + Christianity, Call to Holy Ground is made in collaboration with women elders from the communities of St Andrew’s Church and Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu temple in Leytonstone in north-east London. Call to Holy Ground opens on 14 January, on Makara Sankranti, a festival dedicated to the deity Surya celebrating harvest time in India and Nepal, and closes just before Palm Sunday on 26 March.
Situated in a side chapel of St Andrew’s Church, the area in churches usually reserved for holy relics, hangs a large-scale installation, a cloak-like sculptural cosmology in three parts made from fabric, hide, oak, wax, mirrors, scrolls and seeds. Referencing the elemental connections between faith and nature and given a formal blessing, the piece contains offerings of intention in English and Sanskrit, from fragments of conversation and story from the community of elders. In the Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu temple, an installation in the form of a portable shrine comprises clay and glass vessels containing water from the rivers Ganges and Lea, inspired by ceremonial water offerings. Like the Ganges, the nearby river Lea also has ancient mythical associations linked with Celtic deity worship.
Connecting church and temple, across an outlying fragment of Epping Forest, visitors are invited to participate in an immersive sound ‘pilgrimage’ whilst walking through the woods between the two sites, each footstep creating a new holy ground. The piece weaves a collective sacred experience as a meditative action spoken by the artists, alongside echoes of stories, chants, songs, poems collected from the elders.
Fourthland’s online video work for Call to Holy Ground presents a performance of ritualistic gestures filmed in Epping Forest, and elemental expressions such as waterfalls, stone gateways and fire. The work becomes a bridge between faiths, generations, spiritual and ecological practices and bringing together the processes of ‘forming the new scripture’ and the importance of the everyday sacred act, and its role in a larger constellation of acts. The video is a pilgrimage through the elements, with elders and artists, exploring the sacred essence, and the connection with the inner landscape.
Fourthland use their process led research and commitment to social practice to reposition marginalised knowledge in order to form new modes of social and environmental consciousness with diverse communities and cultural groups. Since 2008 their work has sought to merge art and life to collectively develop the myths that are essential to enchant and reposition forms of kinship to foster a deeper connection to the land and each other. These methods produce transformative collaborative projects, choreographed rituals, sound work, storytelling and improvisations that weave together human and non-human communication. Fourthland have presented recent exhibitions and performances for Kestle Barton, PEER, SPACE, Somerset House, Arnolfini, Barbican, Errant Bodies, UCL, South London Gallery, with other projects in UK and internationally.
Art and Christianity is the UK's leading organisation in the field of art and faith. Their projects encourage and support high quality contemporary art in churches, demonstrate best practice in commissioning and installing art in churches, and foster links between visual artists and churches. Past projects include installations at St Paul’s Cathedral and numerous parish churches, and feature artists such as Yoko Ono and Rebecca Horn.