‘Enshrine’ at the Florence Trust, St Saviours

Sadly, the time has come for the final show arranged by the Florence Trust at their old home, St Saviours Church at Highbury, Islington. ‘Enshrine’ is an exhibition featuring the work of Yuka Namekawa & Steven Allbutt, who met at the Florence Trust, on their year-long artists residency in 2008/09. They married in 2014 and in 2019 returned to the Trust to help manage the Charity and its home.

“Unless one says goodbye to what one loves, and unless one travels to completely new territories, one can expect merely a long wearing away of oneself and an eventual extinction.” (Jean Dubuffet)

This quotation inspired artist, Patrick Hamilton to found The Florence Trust, at St Saviours Church Aberdeen Park. ‘Enshrine’ was conceived as an opportunity for the viewer to say goodbye to St Saviours and hello to the Florence Trust, as it moves forward and away from its home of the last 33 years, in an attempt to avoid our own, “long wearing away” and “eventual extinction”. It is also a wonderful chance for visitors to see the interior of the church without studios obscuring the view of the interior as a whole.

The show features three works – “From the mundane to the sacred and back again” (Recycled studio timbers, recycled paper, wire & led lights); “Monumental Words” (Recycled studio timber, broken concrete casts of “Das Kapital” & “The Bible”, found box) and “Enshrined” (Charity bookshop copies of “Das Kapital” by Karl Mark. Text set in resin). This triptych explores how we make the mundane sacred and the sacred mundane, and is Yuka and Steve’s first collaborative artwork.

Founded as an educational charity by painter Patrick Hamilton. The Trust opened its doors to artists in 1990 with support from English Heritage and the Council for the Care of Churches. Hamilton had worked in a large communal studio in Florence, Italy and was inspired to replicate the beautiful surroundings and atmosphere of exchange that he had found so productive, in London. At the Florence Trust he created a place where exchange with other artists was productively encouraged and where the surroundings themselves added beauty and inspiration. Every year the Florence Trust provided a year-long residency for 12 international artists.

‘Over the last 2 years the Florence Trust has, like everyone, adapted to circumstance. Changing from the residency scheme to providing permanent, affordable studios and support, for around 20 artists, a programme of 15 shows over 2 years and a natural dye making and textiles outreach and education programme, based in its garden.’ Steve Allbutt

The Church of England’s decision to sell the building will hopefully be a means of securing its future, while preserving its past and its beautiful Grade 1 listed features. Sir John Betjeman, the poet Laurette, and one of St Saviours more famous congregation members, would no doubt have approved as he was responsible for saving St Pancras Station. In fact there is a small extract from his poem “St Saviours” set into the concourse marble floor of the rejuvenated building –

“Beyond the throb of the engines is the throbbing heart of all — 
Christ, at this Highbury altar, I offer myself to Thee.”

‘Enshrine – A collaborative work in 3 parts’ is at the Florence Trust (St Saviours Church, Aberdeen Park, London, N5 2AR) and is open daily 05/02 – 12/02 (6-9PM). You can follow the Florence Trust here on twitter and instagram: @florencetrust.

Images © Jonathan Dredge, text © Steve Allbutt and Jonathan Dredge

One Comment Add yours

  1. churchgate1 says:

    Thank you so much for this blog. It made us see our own work with fresh eyes with detail even we had missed. Beautiful images. Xx


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