An exhibition which spotlights silenced women of the Bible has taken place in Calne Baptist Church in Wiltshire
#shetoo is an exhibition by self-taught Trowbridge based artist Jen Ford, featuring a range of women who have been ‘wrongly shamed, blamed and accused’ in the Bible. Panels of commentary explaining the thinking behind the images accompany the paintings.
In profiling Eve, Tamar (pictured), Vashtar, Hagar, Bathsheba and others, Jen hopes to shine a new light on these women their stories, how God sees them, and how the Church views women.
‘Misogyny and sexism have played a great part in the way that we read the Bible and teach others from it, and as a result women have suffered greatly and often in silence,’ Jen, of Bethseda Baptist Church, explained.
‘Domestic violence, bullying, spiritual, physical and emotional abuse, continue to happen to women within church communities, and very often the Bible is used to keep them silent and oppressed.
‘This series of paintings aims to change the way in which the church views women, by reintroducing those women in the Bible who have been wrongly shamed, blamed and accused, providing the same freedom, vindication, options and purpose to all.’
The exhibition took place at Calne last weekend. Baptist minister the Revd Dr Helen Paynter, author of God of Violence Yesterday, God of Love Today? Wrestling honestly with the Old Testament and director of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence at Bristol Baptist College, spoke on Hagar at the launch. She observed, ‘I think there is something around in the #MeToo movement which means that these texts (on rape and abuse of women) are now reaching a wider audience. It’s important that Christians are equipped to deal with them.’
Following the event she added, ‘The exhibition launch was a real success. The room looked stunning, with the paintings and accompanying commentary beautifully mounted and displayed with spotlighting. About 40 people were there. This is such an important subject and it was very encouraging to have so many local people engaging with it.
‘Sadly, gender-based violence is an issue today as much as it was in biblical times, and it is important to understand that the Bible is a valuable, liberating resource, rather than being – as it is sometimes considered to be – a part of the problem.
‘Jen Ford’s magnificent art helps us to engage with the stories of some of the women who were silenced by their abusers but whose stories are precious to God.’
The exhibition came about after Calne minister the Revd Sam King saw a collection of the original paintings at Jen’s church in Trowbridge earlier in the year (where Jen’s husband David is minister) and felt strongly that they warranted a wide audience. The Bible Society agreed to sponsor the event. The church reported that many were moved by the exhibition, and felt it was relevant in the context of today’s #MeToo movement.
The exhibition images having been printed on large formal (90cmx60cm) all weather “HD Metal” (Chromalux process) are available for wider exhibition showings.
Interested parties should contact the artist (pictured) directly at email@example.com
Find out more about the exhibition, including an interview with Jen and and a recording of Helen’s address, on the Calne Baptist Church website