St Patrick’s Studios – A Catholic Christian Centre for Art
We are a group of artists from different disciplines working alongside each other in a studio space in the heart of old Wapping in the Old School building of St Patrick’s RC Parish.
On the closure of the primary school in 2002, Fr Digby Samuels, the then parish priest had the idea to ‘evangelise the culture through art’ and invited artists to use the high north lit space for studios, to run workshops, to pray together and gather. A project with a clear Catholic ethos but welcoming artists of all Christian denominations and no faith began to evolve.
The main aims therefore are to create a space where artists can be mutually supported in a Catholic Christian setting and to share the Gospel of Christ through our inspiration and creativity with the wider world.
Fr Digby’s idea for ‘evangelisation of the culture through art was inspired by the 1999 Letter of Pope John Paul II to artists . In 2011 Fr Digby wrote the statement reproduced below. These words of Fr Digby, along with the letter of the Pope provide a point of reference for the artists and their developing practice at St Patrick’s.
“Since the Old School building became available for pastoral, spiritual and community use ten years ago, St Patrick’s has valued the presence of artists/parishioners in studio space which has enabled the use of creative gifts in the Christian tradition.
Rather than furthering commercial art, the understanding has been that our post modern urban culture would receive the benefits and challenges of the Christian artistic tradition with its deep and broad spirituality.
Generations of Catholic primary schooling has contributed to the building’s contemplative atmosphere. Whilst each artist’s life and faith journey is respected, the underlying ethos of the St Patrick’s Community of artists builds on the Catholic tradition.
The understanding of being part of the community is to meet every few months to pray and share our vision. We also plan for biannual half day retreats.
I support the invaluable contribution that the artists’ community makes to our parish life and beyond. Let us trust and pray that the Lord will be glorified by this usage of the building, and many more people both within the parish and beyond be included in the blessings already experienced.”
Fr Digby Samuels