A new piece of art by Susannah Morgan is being exhibited in St Mary's Church, Boston Spa.
"2 Metres Apart - Diptych" features two large, monochrome oil paintings on canvas together with social distancing hazard warning tape, and reflects the experience of social distancing and the wearing of masks.
"I wanted to show how hard it is to have any real human connection in the strange world we now live in," explains Susannah, an art student at Leeds Arts University whose artwork portrays two young people in masks, separated by social distancing tape.
"We can’t physically touch and often we can’t even read people’s facial expressions, and although these measures are in place for our own health and public benefit, there is no denying that it creates additional barriers to try and make friendships and have meaningful conversations.
“The text on the tape then has a double meaning, not only showing our physical distance from one another, but also our emotional distance."
Susannah's father, Priest-in-Charge of St Mary’s the Revd Nick Morgan, describes the work as a helpful addition to the church environment for those who visit to worship and pray: "The way the work cuts across the intimate ‘mother and son’ windows featuring Mary and Jesus really does heighten the piece's theme of lack of intimacy and emotional distance.
Some people will find these large, impassive, monochrome, masked faces disturbing, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Art has an important role to play in helping us grapple with our own feelings about the ongoing challenge of living with emotional and physical distance from other people.
“It's something which churches everywhere are doing their best to help people to navigate for themselves already, so art like this is very welcome, and is another way the church can support people. Alongside the piece, we have offered spiritual guidance using Bible verses and a prayer."
"2 Metres Apart - Diptych" is a temporary exhibition in St Mary's Church Boston Spa (open daily 9.00am – 3.00pm) until the end of November. Visitors to the church must wear face coverings and follow public health guidelines which include using hand sanitizer, observing one-way directions around the building, and either checking in with the Serco Test and Trace app, or recording their name and contact details as they enter. Entry to the church is free of charge, but donations are most welcome. Susannah Morgan is a member of the congregation of All Saints', Thorp Arch, another church of the Bramham Benefice of which St Mary's is a part.
at this time of isolation, diminished human contact and lack of fellowship,
may we know your loving embrace and abiding presence with us.
We are not alone, for you are always with us.
Help us to draw near to you,
knowing that when we do,
you draw near to us.
In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
- The Revd Nick Morgan