1st Edition

Transforming Christian Thought in the Visual Arts Theology, Aesthetics, and Practice

Edited By Sheona Beaumont, Madeleine Emerald Thiele Copyright 2021
    266 Pages 49 Color & 43 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    266 Pages 49 Color & 43 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    266 Pages 49 Color & 43 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume explores how the visual arts are presenting and responding to Christian theology and demonstrates how modern and contemporary artists and artworks have actively engaged in conversation with Christianity. Modern intellectual enquiry has often been reluctant to engage theology as an enriching or useful form of visual analysis, but critics are increasingly revisiting religious narratives and Christian thought in pursuit of understanding our present-day visual culture.

    In this book an international group of contributors demonstrate how theology is often implicit within artworks and how, regardless of a viewer’s personal faith, it can become implicit in a viewer’s visual encounter. Their observations include deliberate juxtaposition of Christian symbols, imaginative play with theologies, the validation of non-confessional or secular public engagement, and inversions of biblical interpretation. Case studies such as an interactive Easter, glow-sticks as sacrament, and visualisation of the Bible’s polyphonic voices enrich this discussion. Together, they call for a greater interpretative generosity and more nuance around theology’s cultural contexts in the modern era.

    By engaging with theology, culture, and the visual art, this collection offers a fresh lens through which to see the interaction of religion and art. As such, it will be of great use to those working in Religion and the Arts, Visual Art, Material Religion, Theology, Aesthetics, and Cultural Studies.


    Sheona Beaumont and Madeleine Emerald Thiele

    PART 1: Re-working the Bible Beyond Symbolic Expression

    1 ‘The Hearing Ear and the Seeing Eye’: Transformative Listening to the Biblical Image

    John Harvey

    2 Photography as the Bible’s New Illumination

    Sheona Beaumont

    3 The Visual Commentary on Scripture: Principles and Possibilities

    Ben Quash

    4 The Virgin and the Visual Artist as Theologian: Examining Two Marian Images by David Jones

    Ewan King

    Praxis I:

    LAVANT 2018

    Sara Mark

    PART 2: Re-Shaping Institutional and Historical Cross-Currents

    5 ‘A Sacred Art of the State’: Public Commissions for French Churches, Abbeys, and Cathedrals

    Jonathan Koestlé-Cate

    6 The Chapel at Royal Holloway: Visual Theology and Women’s Education

    John Dickson and Harriet O’Neill

    7 The 'Sacred Pastoral' as the Manifestation of Spirituality in the Work of Bishop William Giles

    Marjorie Coughlan

    Praxis II:


    Maciej Urbanek

    PART 3: Re-Discovering the Church Space in Liturgy, Performance, and Installation

    8 Bin Bag Visions: Theological Horizons in Maciej Urbanek’s HS

    Jonathan A. Anderson

    9 Public Liturgical Theology Through Community and Public Art

    Martin Poole and Stephen B. Roberts

    10 Stations of the Cross & Stations of the Resurrection: Interdisciplinary Art Practice and its Implications for Visual Theology

    Lucy Newman Cleeve


    Sheona Beaumont and Madeleine Emerald Thiele


    Sheona Beaumont is an artist and writer working with photography. She was Bishop Otter Scholar (2017–2020) with the Diocese of Chichester and King's College London, and her doctorate on the Bible in photography was completed at the International Centre for Biblical Interpretation, University of Gloucestershire. She has written for History of Photography, Religion and the Arts, Art+Christianity, and the Visual Commentary on Scripture, and her artist books include Eye See Trinity and Bristol Through the Lens. She is co-founder of Visual Theology.

    Madeleine Emerald Thiele is an art historian whose research examines Tractarian aesthetics and the angelic form within British art c.1840s–1900s. She has presented papers internationally, taught at the University of Bristol, written for the Victorian Web, lectured at Marlborough College, and was the Visual Arts Editor for HARTS & Minds. Madeleine has published on the Pre-Raphaelite artist John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, and she is also co-founder of Visual Theology.