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’
and is a collective field of trust shared between faiths, generations and cultures, with hope for a sustainable future.
Commissioned by Art and Christianity, Call to Holy Ground is made in collaboration with, and features women elders from the communities of St Andrew’s Church and Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu temple in Leytonstone in north-east London. Postponed from January, Call to Holy Ground opens on 17 May, the week leading up to Pentecost, and closes just after Ratha Yatra, a major Hindu festival associated with Lord Vishnu.
Situated in a side chapel of St Andrew’s Church, in the area 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 stories from the community of elders.
Also within the side chapel at St Andrew’s Church, a video projected on a waxed surface shows a series of ritualistic gestures, songs and sounds performed by individual elders and the artists in the ancient woodland, heaths and waterways of Epping Forest. Bridging spiritual and ecological practices, the work draws together the processes of ‘forming the new scripture’ and the importance of the everyday sacred act, in a larger constellation of actions.
Across a corner of Epping Forest, in the Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu temple is an installation in the form of a portable shrine comprising an object made from fabric, wax and other materials, on top of which is a glass vessel 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 work whilst walking through the woods between the two sites. The piece creates a collective sacred experience as a meditative action spoken by the artists, alongside echoes of stories, chants, songs and poems collected from the elders.
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.
Call to Holy Ground is made with support from Tara Khare of Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu temple and Fr Paul Kennington of St Andrew’s Church. Holy Ground is an interfaith art project commissioned by Art and Christianity that develops relationships established with churches and artists in the London Borough of Walthamstow, Year of Culture in 2019.