What have I actually been doing as an artist-theologist-hospitaliter?

Okay, so 2016 has been my first year mostly freelancing, and freelancing as an artist-theologist-hospitaliter nonetheless. So what have I actually been doing? Here’s what:

Making images
One of the things that’s occupied a fair bit of my time the second half of this year has been illustrating for Victorian Council of Christian Education’s new Join the Dots resources. Join the Dots provides some activities for each Sunday, which church groups can use to engage the whole congregation with some of the lectionary Bible readings – rather than sending the younger members out for a separate program. I’ve really been enjoying working on these with Beth Barnett and seeing where the texts lead our reflection.
I’ve also done a few smaller one-off illustration jobs for groups like Love Makes A Way and Incedo (formerly Youth for Christ NZ).

Making room
Another thing I’ve been involved in is hosting spaces. That’s what we do in our home with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospital guests from day to day. We’ve also been making space for other more local visitors through learning circles, irreverent Bible discussions over dinner and inviting comrades (old and new) around to share a pot of tea.
During winter I also got involved as a volunteer at the Welsh Church’s community dinner, which is in some ways new and in other ways very familiar. That’s also been about making space for others. In March I also hosted some morning contemplative spaces at SURRENDER’s Melbourne conference.

Is this really three different things? Or is it just one thing?
Yes and yes. In a lot of ways making images and making room is about creating opportunities to reflect with others or encourage others to do their own private reflection. Often reflection is on how we do a better job of hosting or making room for others. All these things go together and if I try to separate them too clearly they stop working. Hence the hyphenation in artist-theologist-hospitaliter.

Reflecting with folks
The last thing (or more of the same thing) that I’ve been doing is reflecting with folks. Early in the year I got to spend some time with our friends in Footscray who often meet informally on a Sunday night. We spent three evenings reflecting on practises of hospitality – cooking, cleansing and sharing tea. I’ve also done some more formal speaking at a few churches on Sunday mornings – Armadale Baptist Church, Melbourne Welsh Church and Moreland Baptist Church – but have each time tried to make sure there’s some opportunity for reflection and or discussion so we can all learn together.
In the second half of the year I spent some time working with Murrumbeena Baptist Church, helping them start to analyse the stories being told in their neighbourhood. We learnt a fair bit about the Boyds, a family of artists who lived in the area, and how the Boyds’ story might be calling that community to participate in their neighbourhood.
Throughout 2016 (and over the past few years) I’ve also been working on Labyrinth (formerly known as Space Stations) a project that’s about teaching people in Melbourne and other places to uncover the hidden stories of their cities. We’ve hosted two City Hacks and one Labyrinth tour in Melbourne, and we’re also on the cusp of releasing an app that showcases some of the Melbourne stories.


What’s next in 2017?
Well, would you like to hire me? I’m open to requests. I’m particularly interested in

  • doing illustration
  • facilitating reflection on the significance, purpose and meaning of everyday practises
  • hosting contemplative spaces
  • teaching local communities to uncover the sacred stories of their neighbourhoods
  • leading Labyrinth tours in Melbourne CBD

If you’re interested in talking about any of these offers, feel free to send me an email – christop@gmail.com

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