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Children take part in the ‘Human One’ exhibition

First published on: 2nd October 2023

Jeremy Thomas Human One

Throughout September, St Anne’s Royton hosted an exhibition by Welsh artist Jeremy Thomas. Named the ‘Human One’ exhibition, it represented scenes from throughout Jesus’s life through a series of vibrant and thought-provoking pieces.

Laura Tebay, Man Dio Growing Faith Deanery Enabler for Oldham and Ashton, led a group of school children to see the artwork. Here, she reflects on the powerful effect of the art on both herself and the pupils.

"When I first started in my role, I was so excited to hear that art was being used to draw people closer to God, and that’s just what this astounding exhibition has done. It depicts the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus through emotive and detailed paintings. The attention to detail from artist Jeremy Thomas means that everyone who encounters the pieces can see many different elements. All together there are 30 paintings to represent the 30 pieces of silver handed to Judas in return for Jesus.

"Rev Liz Devall and I had the great honour of guiding pupils from St Anne’s CE Primary School, Royton around the exhibition. As I spoke about each painting and told each story the children were captivated, speaking about particular sections and bringing the paintings to life through fresh eyes. Their Bible knowledge was incredible and they were helping each other, as well as us, to learn more as we looked at each painting.

"The pupils were particularly interested in the more poignant pictures, created with darker colours and depicting dramatic scenes. The children saw things that only a child would see, and one great example is when we encountered Jesus’s baptism painting. Amongst all the colours and details bursting out, one of the pupils pointed out a collection of rocks depicted on the sea bed. He deciphered that Jeremy had painted a skull; the skull of Golgotha, alluding to Jesus’s death even in this early and happier moment of his life.

"We also had the opportunity to hold a live Zoom call with Jeremy Thomas, where the pupils were able to ask him plenty of questions including what his favourite paintbrushes are, and talk to him about his paintings.

"God truly spoke to these children through the paintings. These weren’t on a screen or a phone, they were present in front of them to be properly appreciated and admired. It brings to mind one of my favourite films, ‘Inside Out’; we hope that this moment will sit proudly in their long-term memory bank, and who knows, they might be painting a similar story one day.

"The exhibition has inspired us to build on this creativity, and we hope to make a space for the children of the school using the church and eventually, the wider mission community to explore art as a means of worship.

"Thanks to Revd Liz Devall for all of her hard work and commitment to the showing of this art, and for asking Jeremy to bring such a large-scale exhibition to the small town of Royton. It has truly blessed the community."

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