Welcome to lookandhear.art, a website celebrating the way we can encounter God through the visual arts.

The heart of this website in the blog which I seek to update regularly. The latest posts can be accessed below. My posts model my belief that we can prayerfully look at art and hear God speak to us. Others demonstrate the way that my faith is nurtured by reading scripture and making artwork in response. I try to capture my sense of how God has spoken to me in my paintings. Each post provides a creative response idea for you to explore if you wish to. For more about the vision for this site visit the about page.

Visual Prayer

During lock down we have been producing online worship for our church community, This has…

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Starting Points

I am fascinated by the starting points that begin a creative journey. Today I read…

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As part of a recent 24hrs of prayer, here in Manchester Diocese, I created a…

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Elijah Encounters God

In today’s lectionary we read the story of the great prophet Elijah encountering the presence…

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Musings on Theology and Art

Creative Attentiveness

Image created by Revd Tom Studman

Mary Oliver was one of Americas favorite poets and has become one of mine. There is a fascination with beauty in her work. Her whole approach was shaped by awe and amazement responding to the wonder of the world around her. Victoria Emily Jones writes that despite never attending church she, like Whitman and Thoreau before her, “perceived an unseen, transcendental Presence within the natural world”. I first came across a section of Oliver’s poem, ‘Sometimes’ on retreat at Launde Abbey. I have been shaped by Mary Oliver’s personal manifesto, summed up by the fourth section:

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

These lines set the tone for fruitful engagement with the art we discover and the images we find all around us. I encourage you to join me in a posture that pays attention to all that we see, looking to hear God speaking to us. Together we can be astonished and like Mary Oliver be ‘praise poets’ or indeed ‘praise artists’, telling about it. I really enjoy sharing the art I make in response to paying attention and being astonished by what God says to me. Many of the blog entries I will post will be a way of me ‘telling about’ these encounters.


Hans Urs Von Balthasar called for Beauty to be, “the word that shall be our first”.[1] He lamented the loss of ancient thinking that understood itself through beauty. He regretted the way religion discarded beauty, “no longer loving it or fostering it” or “dare(s) to believe in beauty”.[2] He called for courage to allow beauty to stand with her sisters; truth and goodness. This call reverberates today. Balthasar warns that, “whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past — whether he admits it or not — can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.”[3]

I take from this that beauty is essential for intimacy with God. It is in our beholding of beauty that we are drawn into prayer and adoration of God. Art visualises Christs luminous form in the beauty of paint on canvas, poetry and music. Art radiates the essence of Christ, stirring our hearts to pray and adore our Lord. God has gifted us with the resources to daringly behold and encounter God through our art making.

[1] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Glory of the Lord VOL 1: Seeing The Form (A&C Black, 1982), 18.
[2] Balthasar, 18.
[3] Balthasar, 18.

Theme: Overlay by Kaira Keep looking to hear what God has to say to you
Manchester, England