Archive | March 2012

April’s Stunningly Intricate Art Exhibition

Detail from 'sophie'

Close up detail of 'Sophie'

Art and poetry converge to create stunningly intricate artwork at the hands of Jamie Poole.

The piece above, called ‘Sophie’, is made of thousands of lines of poetry. Individual strands of hair are single lines of poem, while one of her eyes could contain a whole stanza. Click the large image above to see the incredible detail in full.

Jamie was born in Northampton and now teaches art at Northampton School for Girls. In recent years he has been an active member of the arts event known as ‘Open Studios’ in Northamptonshire and has produced commissioned works for private clients.

He has exhibited widely around the UK with mainly landscape paintings and a hand printed ‘Landscape Sofa’ in his portfolio, but April sees his landscapes and poetry collage artworks coming to the Northampton Jesus Centre’s Circle Café. ‘Sophie’ will be the centrepiece of this exhibition.

Painting with poems

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Visit for more on Jamie Poole’s work.
Of course, you can come and see this piece and many others by the Artist for yourself in the Circle Café and the vestibule exhibition space on Wednesday and Friday evenings and most Saturday mornings.


Tailored Tutoring Time To Teach Travellers To Travel

Horse and cart in front of the Jesus Centre

As you can imagine, learning to drive is essential for Gypsy Travellers. And we’re not talking about horses and carts here!

Paul Veitch of the Northampton Jesus Centre heads up a driving theory skills and support group for this often marginalised population. We interviewed Paul to find out the group’s ‘why’ and ‘how’.

Hi Paul. Where did the idea for this group come from?
When we first researched services available in Northampton to identify a few niches which we at the Jesus Centre could fill we realised that there were hardly any services for Travellers. Not only were they on the margins in the eye of the public but their transient lifestyle meant they were also marginalised from charitable services. Also, we already had friends in the Traveller community and one Gypsy woman came to learn English with us for a short time. The last piece of the puzzle was a recommendation by a health visitor who had visited Travellers who suggested we offer help to Travellers with reading & writing, driving theory, form filling and help with getting into colleges.

If I was a Traveller visiting the group for the first time, describe what I’d find.
After parking your cart and horse in the car park a volunteer would show you to one of our upstairs classrooms! You’d meet volunteers who understand Traveller culture and laptops would be available for tutoring. I think you’d find it a friendly and informal time.

Northampton Mayor and Mare at NJC

The Mayor and the Mare - Supporters and friends we've helped at a Jesus Centre open day

So is this a formal teaching program?
We run through the DSA complete theory test kit one-to-one, the whole shebang – revising the highway code, mock tests and hazard perception. We also help with form filling, letter writing and we can refer visitors to other services, both Jesus Centre services and other charitable organisations.

Do you have any specific examples of how the group’s helped visitors?
To date all nine students have passed their theory tests and all but one have passed their practical driving test. All students grow in confidence, not just in their grasp of driving theory but in using computers and filling in forms.

What do you enjoy most about running the group?
Making friends and seeing their joy at finally passing their test, and helping them to become independent. It’s thrilling to see justice carried out as Travellers who are often illiterate often don’t know what they’re entitled to. We help students to sign up to vote; it’s fulfilling to see a marginalised community being empowered and receiving rights to live as citizens fo the UK.

If you know anyone who’d benefit from this service please call the Jesus Centre on 0845 166 8202 or email Paul Veitch to arrange a meeting.

Find out what you can do to support the work of the Jesus Centre or give directly.

Part funded by

Comic Relief Grassroots Grants NCF logo

March Circle Café Exhibition

Artwork - When the Saints go marching in

Yvonne Bell‘s dramatically rich artwork is set to feature as the Circle Café‘s March exhibition.

Her canorously vivid creativity is infused with stories of faith that give her work a unique edge, a far cry from any stereotypes of Christian art as insipid and clichéd.

Yvonne wasn’t given the best start in art at school. Being taught art in a Roman Catholic school Yvonne was told she wasn’t talented enough to be an artist; they recommended she should just teach art instead! Furthermore, her interest in art as an expression of faith was discouraged as art was seen as a purely secular pursuit; art was “unchristian” and art and faith should not mix, she was told.

After a full conversion experience a minister recommended she join the Anglican Church because of their openness to artists. There Yvonne discovered stained glass windows and their rich cultural heritage of the exploration of faith through art.

Yvonne’s first venture into making her own art started with a two-year college design course. She asked a friend to give her a title for a painting, and her friend’s response was “urban mission”. Initially puzzled by the title another friend pointed her to Isaiah 61:1-3, and her first painting took shape.

Artwork - Urban Mission

Urban Mission

Her design project became a spiritual adventure. However, her college disliked it as they said it was “pushing a message”. Christian art is still not accepted in many galleries.

As Yvonne explains, the professional art establishment loves impressionist art but often fails to tell meaningful stories. Artists can charge vast amounts for art that shocks but doesn’t enrich. We’ve all heard a friend or stranger bemoan what the art establishment calls ‘great art’, with the public often estranged from the frivolous fashions of modern art. The colour that faith can add to art can be perceived as more virtuous than extortionate market ‘values’ endowed by the auctions of art fashion. Art that is filled with depth and meaning demands engagement.

Yvonne’s art is enjoyed by a few well-known people, including the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, for whom she is also a vestment dresser.

Colour copies of her artwork are used in schools to teach RE, and they adorn the walls of theological students’ studies. She has also illustrated various Christian books, gives talks on Christian art, silk painting, vestments and icons. A number of her banners have been featured in books and on TV, including a few recently filmed episodes of ‘The Bill’.

Why not pop into the Circle Café for a coffee and to browse the whole exhibition for yourself?

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To see more of Yvonne’s artwork visit and if you’d like to buy prints go to

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