Reli­gion al­ways in­spired art

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

THE Townsville City Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to refuse to place a $ 60,000 piece of art­work on the ba­sis that pub­lic art and reli­gion shouldn’t be mixed, raises some in­ter­est­ing ques­tions ( TB, 22/ 7).

The bronze ‘ Je­sus the Home­less’ by a Cana­dian artist de­picts a man in a blan­ket, sleep­ing on a park bench with his face and hands ob­scured. The only fea­ture that iden­ti­fies him as Je­sus are the cru­ci­fix­ion wounds on his feet. Eight sim­i­lar sculp­tures have been in­stalled around the world.

How­ever, the Townsville City Coun­cil’s arts com­mit­tee has re­jected the piece on the ba­sis of it be­ing ‘ par­tic­u­larly keen’ to sep­a­rate reli­gion from pub­lic art.

What an unin­spired world we would live in if our fore­bears had the same at­ti­tude. We’d be de­prived Christ the Redeemer over­look­ing Rio de Janeiro, the great Bud­dhist tem­ples of Thai­land and even the mon­u­men­tal pyra­mids of Egypt.

Reli­gion has in­spired art and co­ex­isted with it for centu- ries. It can be up­lift­ing, and it can be con­fronting. Some peo­ple would love the statue, some peo­ple would not. This is the point of art. The sculp­tor him­self said that he in­tended for the piece to be provoca­tive, ad­mit­ting, “It’s meant to chal­lenge peo­ple.”

In a world that seems hell bent on driv­ing reli­gion from the pub­lic sphere, it is a shame that we are de­priv­ing our­selves of this in­spi­ra­tion, or at the least, these dis­cus­sions.

JESS KEIR, Her­mit Park.

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