Architecture, Arts, Ethics

Virtues

Detail of fresco in the Chapter House of Santa Maria Novella, Florence. The highest central angel is Love.

Angouleme

Cathedral of St-Pierre, Angoulême, France. 1125-50.

Coming out of particularly the medieval theology and philosophy is an old formulation of pragmatic ethics—the cardinal virtues. The spiritual virtues are love, faith, and hope (and ‘the greatest of these is love’), but they only really work with support from the four natural virtues.

In the fresco of Santa Maria Novella, Florence (see larger picture in MEDIEVAL THEOLOGY), the upper realm has seven angels serving the whole company below. The topmost symbolize the spiritual virtues with Love at the apex. Below are the natural virtues—Prudence, Justice, Temperance, Fortitude. They guide the works of Wisdom, and give rectitude to all endeavour in a culture. Neglect of this tool of thought and discipline of action contributes to nihilism, self-obsession, hedonism, and such disorders.

These virtues can be translated into terms which connect with architecture and art, doing and making anything. It is a formulation of ethics which can lead to a rediscovery of goodness in things. This is also a sound tool in the exercise of critical judgement—for instance of the merit of a building. Attention to the moral dimension opens up fresh appreciation of work, and it empowers the artificer and artist.

The thesis on love in theology and architecture in the Middle Ages (see ACADEMIC & WRITINGS) provides the big picture. Flowing from that, the applications in the mode and qualities of things we do and make are across the board, and need to be explained. We can see them in European medieval architecture. They are in New Zealand vernacular building. There are applications in our attempts to discern goodness and judge beauty.


Virtue and meaning

Snadler
‘Tower of Wisdom’, in Psalter of Robert de Lisle. France, c.1310.
Ronchamp
Chapel of Notre-Dame-du-Haut, Ronchamp, France, from north-east. Le Corbusier, 1955.
Reims
East chevet, abbey church of St-Rèmi, Reims. Begun c.1170.
Verneuil
St Barbara, and tower. Church of the Madeleine, Verneuil-sur-Avre, France.

In my first week as a student at the School of Architecture at Auckland University, in 1960, our group was introduced to the library by the impressive librarian Lillian Cummings. It was her chance to impress some principles of architecture on our open minds, and in the middle of the old library she delivered a lecture on Sir Henry Wooton’s formulation—‘commodity, firmness, and delight’. It seemed to set a benchmark.

I have never heard a lecture on the cardinal virtues. But Josef Pieper’s Leisure the Basis of Culture introduced me to his writings, including The Four Cardinal Virtues, an excellent exposition, grounded in medieval philosophy. (See POETRY & LITERATURE forum.) These are ‘the four hinges on which the gates of life swing’—the business of ethics. Yet nowadays even most well educated people seem not to be able to name these four key virtues.

In the ‘Tower of Wisdom’ drawing (typical of this common allegorical subject in the 14th century) the four virtues are the archways upon which the whole structure depends. The width is ‘Love’, and the height is ‘Perseverence in the Good’. To build works of integrity love and pursuit of what pertains to true goodness are the measures of action. They are thus involved in all works of art.

There are several images in literature for the cardinal virtues. Most ancient probably is that the gates of life swing on these four hinges (L. cardo = hinge). Another is given by William Langland in Piers Plowman (14th C.), where Piers is given these as four seeds to sow, which will come to harvest in his life. In Dante’s Paradiso, the cardinal virtues are epitomised by four of the angelic hierarchies—Powers, Virtues, Dominations, and Thrones. They call for our attention.

At the end of my time at the School of Architecture, Prof. Richard Toy conducted a quite informal examination of my Masters thesis—just a chat in his study. Pursuing some religious ideas traversed in the thesis, he asked whether it followed that a religious architect was able to do better work than one who was not, for instance Le Corbusier, referring to his design of the Ronchamp Chapel. The simple answer was surely, ‘no’. And certainly there can be bad work done by people of high morals (and, seemingly, vice-versa). Yet there may be a subtler theory involving some deeper kind of work. A recent article by Theodore Dalrymple (City Journal, 19:4 (2009) gives an unequivocal negative take on Le Corbusier’s work. The pertinent point may be in the article’s title, ‘The Architect as Totalitarian.’

In the Middle Ages, the works of art and architecture seem to flow much more directly from general participation of the society in the culture. Similarly there was a tradition of building, and design, which developed slowly by experiment and response to intellectual ideals, which themselves were grounded in theological and metaphysical imperatives. In the abbey church chevet of St-Rèmi, in Reims, there is nothing arbitrary or superfluous in the achievement of a wonderfully illuminated sanctuary—everything shows fitness to purpose, order and economy of means, and clarity or glory in its goal.

  • St Barbara of Heliopolis (3rd century) became the patron saint of architects, and is represented with a tower. Legend tells that her possessive father, not wishing her to marry, built a tower with two windows and richly furnished, in which she was shut away from the world. She managed to hear of Christ and was converted. She ordered workmen to add a third window, because, she said, the soul received its light through three windows—the Trinity. Thus medieval architects were to have regard in their work for the illumination by God. The feather signified the phoenix which was the symbol of Heliopolis.
 
GAPS ARTS Lectures

LOVE EMBODIED IN BUILDINGS

Tony Watkins  •  7.00 pm, Sunday, 1 August, 2010

The speaker, Tony Watkins, is ‘Urban Designer, Vernacular Architect, Maritime Planner, Owner-Builder, Educator, Author, Revolutionary, Peacenik’ – well-known for his passion for building, for the city, and the Earth, for Karaka Bay, Piglet, and life – yet most of us don’t get the chance to hear him in person. His topic reflects the core interest of the GAPS ARTS. Tony has supplied this outline:

The beginning of theology is found in Genesis. God looked at creation and observed that “it was indeed very good”. From this everything follows.

The world today is deeply divided between those who love the natural world and those who fear it. For architects this division is between those who see the very purpose of the built environment as strengthening our relationship with a natural world which gives us life, and those who see the purpose of the built environment as sheltering us from an unfriendly natural world which seeks to do us harm. In simple terms this division is between those who fling open their doors to embrace the day, and those who huddle behind triple glazing worrying whether they are going to be comfortable.

Love in Brickwork

Another distinction is between those who seek for happiness in things and those who seek for happiness in doing things. This is the distinction between a materialistic consumer society and a society where people love life and embrace it in all its fullness. Love is concerned with doing, not possessing. Involvement in the doing is an essential first step before the manifestation of love in building is possible.

Love makes all the difference

Loving life makes all the difference in many practical aspects of our lives. Our Building Act assumes that buildings are nothing more than materialistic objects, and the Act is concerned with consumer protection. All this is negative. What we need is a creative, positive Building Act. We need an Act which helps to make love manifest in our built environment. John Key and those who only love money might find this to be a very strange idea, but there is more to life than money. Rather than talking about economic recovery we should be talking about love recovery. We need to go about building in a completely different way. Creation is indeed very good and our built environment needs to embrace that goodness. Love is the key.

If I might return to our Building Act. It assumes that the bricklayer lays bricks only to make money. The Act degrades not only the act of building but also everyone involved. Human beings are reduced to human resources in an economic system which is devoid of love.

God began it all by loving the natural world. We look in wonder at the love which built the Mediaeval cathedral. All we need to do now is to once again build with love. There is no cost involved beyond falling in love with the natural world, and the benefits seem limitless. - T.W.

House
  • Tony Watkins is the author of two very special books: Piglet of Karaka Bay, and The Human House: Sustainable Design. Copies will be available for purchase at very reasonable prices.
 

EARLY TWENTIETH-CENTURY GERMAN GRAPHIC ART

Anthony Blaschke  •  7.00 pm, Sunday, 24 July, 2011

The late Alfons and Marie Blaschke left Germany in 1939 as refugees from the Nazis, and managed to smuggle out a valuable collection of early twentieth-century graphic art. This collection, consisting mainly of etchings from the period from 1910 to 1935, was augmented, around 1970, by a further collection of prints belonging to the late Volker and Maria Heine.

German graphic art

The Blaschke Collection

The collection is of considerable interest and significance for its superb choice of works by some of the leading German artists of the Weimar period, among them Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth, and Käthe Kollwitz. The talk will describe the collection and discuss a selection of its most important prints.

  • Anthony Blaschke, B.Arch., son of Alfons and Marie, studied at the School of Architecture in Auckland. He has recently completed the cataloguing and recording of the collection, which now numbers some two hundred works and is administered by a Trust.

TIME AND PLACE:
VERNACULAR VILLAGES, HUMANE HILLTOWNS

Peter Sheppard  •  7.00 pm, Sunday, 21 August, 2011

This presentation of traditional town and village architecture of England, south France, Italy north and south, Greece and the Cyclades, is part of an extensive record of vernacular building, made by Peter Sheppard during many visits to Mediterranean countries in particular.

The examples span many centuries, and the photography is superb.

Hilltowns

Mainly medieval villages and townscapes

The morphology, relationships, context, landform, nature, spaces between, serial vision, local identity, materials, expression and evocation, time—layering, sense of belonging, community, and human qualities, will all be given attention. Implications and further material relevant to planning and architecture will be discussed.

  • Peter Sheppard, B.Arch (Hons), FNZIA, is an architect who has long involvment in heritage and restoration work, and was a Senior Lecturer at the School of Architecture, Auckland.

TIME AND PLACE:
VERNACULAR VILLAGES, HUMANE HILLTOWNS – PART 2

Peter Sheppard  •  7.00 pm, Sunday, 29 July, 2012

A presentation of traditional town and village architecture of parts of Europe, mainly ‘medieval’ in character. The talk in 2011 showed some examples from England, the south of France, and northern Italy. This session continues with warmer climes. In our winter, enjoy visiting sunny Puglia in the south of Italy, the Meteora in central Greece, and Cycladic Greek islands.

The examples have evolved with strong sense-of-place over the centuries: dry-laid conic trulli houses and the urban unity of Ostuni hilltown; monasteries of the Meteora perched on high rock columns in the late Middle ages; whitewashed clustering of communities fitted to sun and sea of the Aegean.

Pretty pictures

More than just pretty pictures for their own sake

Think of the morphology, relationships, context, landform, spaces between buildings, nature, local identity, materials, expression and evocation, time-layering, community, and human qualities. We can learn from those earlier peoples whose development wasn’t necessarily determined by poverty but by a valuing of what’s important. Furthermore, for architectural environment, the results become not dull, trite, or faddish, but significant.

Some traditions may indirectly inspire the form of future sustainable cities. And a primary challenge of our civilisation is to construct a lasting human society of quality.

This is an opportunity to discuss implications—not with a view to style imitation, but perhaps agreeing on human values, cultural lessons, for here today. In the meantime, you can view the photographs on Flickr.

  • Peter Sheppard, B.Arch (Hons), FNZIA, was a Senior Lecturer at the School of Architecture, Auckland. As an architect he has had long involvement in heritage and restoration work. He travels widely and makes stunning photographic collections.

A PLACE TO DWELL: ARCHITECTURE AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF THEOLOGY

Dr Murray Rae  •  7.00 pm, Sunday, 23 September, 2012

 

A place to dwell

In contrast with the attention given to time and history, space and place in the constitution of created, human existence has received relatively little attention in theology. I will explore how spatial experience and habitation of particular places has profoundly shaped our conceptions of what it means to be human.

Beginning with Vitruvius and his account of the origins of architecture, then tracking back through the Old Testament, I explore the ways in which humanity’s conception of the world and of our place within it finds spatial expression in architecture.

I take the patriarchs’ building of altars as a paradigmatic instance of the way human beings construct spatial representations of their understanding of the world, and then trace the working out of that principle through the architectural tradition.

I conclude with some consideration of the importance of space and place in the New Testament. In this concluding section, I will offer a counter to the oft-heard contention that whereas Israel’s understanding of its covenant relationship with God was intimately bound up with the promise of land and their habitation of particular places, the New Testament shows no interest in such things.’ – Murray Rae

  • Murray Rae, B.Arch (Auck), BD (Otago), PhD (London) is Professor of Theology at Otago University. He trained first as an architect, and then studied theology and philosophy. He is the chair of an International Colloquium on Theology and the Built Environment, and is very interested in connections between the visual arts/architecture and theology.

LIVING AND LEARNING WITH ART

Warwick Brown  •  7.00 pm, Sunday, 17 March, 2013

Apart from being a cliché, to not know much about art but to know what art one likes is something of a contradiction in terms. To be worthy of consideration, a piece of art must be able to keep its head above water in the river of art history. To truly appreciate such a work, the viewer must jump into that river and also keep afloat. It is a swift-flowing river with many sources, many braids, many destinations. –Warwick Brown

Well-known art commentator, Warwick Brown, now 72, has been navigating this stream of creativity since he was six years old. In his talk he will attempt to explain how art has affected his life in a positive way and how it can do the same for anyone who is open to its influences.

Living with art
“Own Drum”, by Don Driver, 1967.

Some questions will be posed and some answers suggested: What is art? Why is it important in human life? How does one discern quality (or the lack thereof) in a purported work of art? Does spending time with an artwork pay off? Some specific works will be analysed, but this is not a slide show. It is an attempt to investigate the mysterious process whereby some of the contents of one person’s mind can be transferred to others by the medium of art. – W.B.

Warwick BrownWarwick Brown, LLB (Auckland), practised law for 30 years, while collecting contemporary N.Z. art, having a key role in Art New Zealand, and writing the art column for the Dominion Sunday Times, as well as playing the jazz clarinet. In the 1990s decade he ran his dealer art gallery in central Auckland, and taught Continuing Education courses on Contemporary N.Z. Art. He has written six books – surveys of N.Z. art and monographs. Since 2000 he has been a practising artist.

AUTHENTICITY AND ART

Elizabeth Brookbanks  •  7.00 pm, Sunday, 17 May, 2013

The topic for my Master’s thesis in Art History (2010) was Issues of Authenticity in Contemporary Art. Given the complexities around authenticity my thesis has since generated exponential interest. Following the completion of my Master’s I created a body of paintings as a means of putting theory into practice. In 2012 I had an exhibition of works entitled Birds & Men, thus further illustrating my research findings.

My Creative Practice PhD at the University of Auckland will continue investigations into aspects of authenticity. The focus will be on the significance of drawing within contemporary art practice. I will investigate the fundamentals of drawing across a range of disciplines including architecture, botany, medicine and general science. The research will study a range of methodologies informed by various practical and theoretical processes.

Authenticity and art
St John the Evangelist 155 × 245 mm (R.H. icon by E. Brookbanks). Gouache, enamel, gesso, 21-carat yellow gold leaf, meranti panel. From Birds & Men exhibition, nkb Gallery, 2012.

This GAPS ARTS presentation traces my research interests grappling with the challenges of authenticity in art. It begins with a synopsis of my Master’s thesis and ends with an evaluation of my recent exhibition Birds & Men. There are many nuances and avenues raised for discussion by the topic of authenticity. Opportunity for debate, feedback and reflection will be given throughout the evening. – E.B.

  • Elizabeth Brookbanks BA (Art History) Otago, BFA (hons) Auckland, BA (hons) Auckland, MA (Art History) Auckland. In conjunction with Fine Arts Elizabeth has studied Theology, Teaching, and Architecture. She is currently enrolled in a Creative Practice PhD at the University of Auckland.

ARCHITECTURE, MEMORY AND HOPE

Prof. Murray Rae  •  7.30 pm, Wednesday, 23 July, 2014

GAPS ARTS invites you to a lecture by Professor Rae visiting from the University of Otago

Jewish Museum, Berlin

‘In this lecture I consider the architectural expression of remembrance, redemption and hope. Starting with some consideration of the challenges posed by evil and terror, I move to a consideration of the architectural schemes developed for Ground Zero.

I then consider Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin before returning to some theological observations about what is being done at Ground Zero.’

– Murray Rae

Murray Rae
  • Murray Rae, B.Arch (Auckland), BA, BD (Otago) PhD (London) is Professor of Theology at the University of Otago. He trained first as an architect, and then studied theology and philosophy. He is the chair of an International Colloquium on Theology and the Built Environment, being very interested in connections between the visual arts/architecture and theology.

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CORNERS OF ITALY WITH AN ARCHITECTURAL EYE

Peter Sheppard  •  7.00 pm. Sunday, 22 February, 2015

Peter Shep
Colourful houses
Praise
Church service
Italian cathedral

Come and share visual sample snippets with colourful photos to start the year with cheer.

Italy: A rugged landform with mountain spine, and largely surrounded by sea, with earthquakes and volcanoes the result of tectonic edge interface. Sounds like New Zealand. But utterly unlike us, Italy has had say 3,000 years of developing civilization, ancient Greeks in the south, Etruscans in the upper-middle, later the Middle Ages with independent hilltowns and city states responding to their individual settings. And a cross-flow from Europe to the north, as well as the Mediterranean. Rich over-layerings of history. Then the Renaissance further influencing the world. Yet Italy only became a united country at beginning of the 1860s. It has produced more community Place response, art and architecture than any other country. A depth for us to learn from and enjoy. Wonderful!

Liguria: Landform response, historic tradition of ochre colours. Fusion of arts and human values. Camogli wives’ houses. San Fruttuoso hidden. Portofino horseshoe harbour and edge-alignment. Pedestrian portici of Chiavari. Cinque Terre, steep-cleft fishing villages long inaccessible, clustered to tight-fit around community.

Tuscany: Florence: fusion of art with philosophy—painting, sculpture, townscape, architecture in the centro storico. Including Uffizi bursting of Renaissance, Michelangelo, Ponte Vecchio bridge alive including Vasari’s hidden corridor, Bardi Giotto frescos, and Brunelleschi’s Pazzi Chapel. Also Brunelleschi’s double-shell dome of Santa Maria, and perspective of baptistery doors. San Gimignano: Medieval clustering, towered skyline, interlinked piazzas and streetscape. Dante emissary from Florence. History-cultured art of Tuscan countryside including Val d’Elsa and Val d’Orcia—cypress landmarks and pinus pinaster parasols. Siena: Rarely-uncovered graphic design of the duomo great inlay floor. Lorenzetti’s “Good Government” fresco in the Palazzo Pubblico reminding the Council of Nine of their civic fundamentals. And the Campo, world’s most civic and human urban living-room piazza.

Southern Tuscany: Montalcino, Pienza Early-Renaissance architectural development, Montepulciano elongated hilltop climaxed by Piazza Grande with High-Renaissance palaces. Traditional copper-artisan to go with the historic fabric layerings. Sant’Antimo—purest Romanesque—space, light and stone-crafting.

Umbria: Orvieto: mesa platform of tufa rock high above vineyard valley. Etruscan town of their confederation, but later becoming papal stronghold. Most dramatic, defining, town siting, with the great cathedral and medieval interlinked surrounds saved by the landform. Maitani’s glittering west-end duomo facade. And Signorelli’s San Brizio frescos which so influenced Michelangelo. Pitigliano: Another Etruscan-origins landform-perched tufa town; lessons of humanity as it crumbles. Assisi: Expressive response to the spur of Subasio. Transition of level links. Bursting from lower church to that above. Giotto’s frescos. In contrast, the very humble and earlier S. Stefano hidden in the town away from tourist commercialisation.

Campania: We head south. South of Naples to the Amalfi peninsula. Ravello, Atrani, and Pathway of the Gods. Out-of-the-ashes Pompei – preserved Roman planning, architecture and frescos.

Lazio: Rome: with the great Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and Giordano Bruno in the Campo dei Fiori.

A dozen sets/albums in flickr – links will be provided at the GAPS gathering. Yet these are just samples to enjoy. There will shortly be many more photos on the internet to explore. Join us!         —Peter Shep.

  • Peter Sheppard, B.Arch(Hons) FNZIA, was a Senior Lecturer at the School of Architecture, Auckland. As an architect, wide traveller and photographer, his focus for many years has been on his photographic recording.

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THE ART CRITIQUE: COMPLEXITIES INFORMING THE EVALUATION OF CONTEMPORARY ART PRACTICES

Elizabeth Brookbanks • Sunday, 9 August, 2015, 7.00 pm.

One and Three Chairs
IMAGE: Joseph Kosuth, One and Three Chairs, 1965

‘I can’t tell you what to think, but I can perhaps suggest how to think about contemporary art practices. The appreciation of contemporary works of art does not begin, as it once did, in front of the object to be admired. Much Contemporary Art is intentionally devoid of object and unable to gain appeal based on aesthetic merit. Contemporary Art moves beyond any preconceptions of aesthetic understanding and challenges the very ontology of ‘Fine Art’ as it has been known.

Therefore, appreciation of Contemporary Art starts at the dawn of aesthetic objectification. We will begin our evaluation of ‘art now’ by tracing its origin from the world of the Early Roman Christian Empire through to the dissolution of aesthetic values in European Modernism.’ —E.B.

Elizabeth BrookbanksElizabeth Brookbanks BA (Art History) Otago, BFA(hons) Elam Auckland, BA(hons) Auckland, MA (Art History) Auckland.

In conjunction with Fine Arts Elizabeth has studied Theology, Teaching, and Architecture. Elizabeth is a practising artist; and is pursuing post-graduate studies.

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EASTER DARKNESS: COLIN McCAHON AND THE COLOUR BLACK

Dr Judith Brown  •  Sunday, 6 September, 2015, 7.00 pm.

Cross
‘Cross’, 1971

This presentation will focus on the colour black as an element used by Colin McCahon in his religious paintings.

It will explore the iconography of the colour black, including its use as a representation of darkness—and that darkness as a form of the most absolute light.

It will touch on the association of black with night and death and sin in the Christian tradition, and suggests that McCahon's use of black includes this but at the same time understands it as a ground from which life becomes possible and light itself is made visible. In doing so some resonances with specific twentieth-century theologies are noted.

  • Judith Brown B.A. (Hons); B.D; M.Th; PhD (Otago) has been a lecturer in theology and culture at Laidlaw College and St. John the Evangelist College, and is a part-time Minister in the Presbyterian Church. She has also created courses for distance learning programmes and has a number of articles published on topics that include theology and the arts.

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CORNERS OF ITALY WITH AN ARCHITECTURAL EYE – II

Peter Sheppard  •  7.00 pm. Sunday, 4 October, 2015

Italian cathedral
Houses on a hill
Fountain

In the February lecture (Part I) we recalled that over time Italy has produced more art, architecture and civic space than any other country. We looked at examples in the north-west and noted characteristics such as local-culture colours, landform response, community counterform, sense of Place. Human, positive, creative, responsive, and layers of time, whether grand architecture or local vernacular.

Enjoy visual riches as Peter Sheppard, intrepid traveller and architectural photographer takes us further south.

Umbria: Orvieto on its high rock platform, with the great cathedral and medieval environs. Maitani’s glittering duomo west facade. Signorelli’s San Brizio frescos which influenced Michelangelo. Pitigliano, another Etruscan-origins town. Assisi, expressive landform response; Giotto’s frescos; in contrast, the older S. Stefano hidden away in the town.

Campania: South of Naples, the Amalfi peninsula; the steep sun-catching slopes of the Amalfi coast. Ravello, Atrani, and the Pathway of the Gods. Pompei – in the shadow of Vesuvius – source of much of our knowledge of ancient Roman society; preserved Roman planning, architecture and frescos.

Puglia: A glimpse of another world way in the south-east: Alberobello and wonderful Ostuni.

Lazio: Rome, with the great Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Giordano Bruno in the Campo dei Fiori, and more recent Renaissance.

 

  • Peter Sheppard, B.Arch(Hons) FNZIA, was a Senior Lecturer at the School of Architecture, Auckland. As an architect, wide traveller and photographer, his focus for many years has been on his photographic recording.

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FREEDOM AND LAW
IN ARCHITECTURE AND
IN THE MORAL LIFE

Professor Murray Rae
Sunday, 15 May, 2016 7.00pm .

Donato Bramante, Tempietto at S. Pietro in Montorio, Rome. Begun in 1510.

GAPS ARTS is privileged to host a lecture by Professor Rae of Otago University. In this topic he will tease out big ethical issues and applications, as he outlines:

Construals of freedom in the modern world are typically individualistic, self-centred, and suspicious of the 'alien' authorities of tradition and law.

Through a consideration of the relation between freedom and rule in the classical architecture of Greece and Rome, I will endeavour to develop a construal of freedom in which tradition and law are seen as the conditions allowing a true and fruitful exercise of freedom rather than imposing unacceptable constraints.

Comparisons will be drawn with the Jewish understanding of the freedom afforded by allegiance to the Torah, and with the way freedom is construed in Christian tradition.

Murray Rae Murray Rae, B.Arch (Auck) BD, BA (Otago) PhD (London) is Professor of Theology at Otago University. He trained first as an architect, and then studied theology and philosophy. He is the chair of an International Colloquium on Theology and the Built Environment, and is very interested in connections between the visual arts/architecture and theology.

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THE PROMISED LAND IN
COLIN McCAHON’S PAINTINGS

Dr Judith Brown
Sunday, 7 August, 2016, 7.00 pm.

Takaka: Night and Day (1948)

This presentation will consider our relationship to place by reflecting on the Scriptural notion of the Promised Land. It will consider the use of this term in relation to New Zealand, and Colin McCahon's appropriation of the concept.

Many of McCahon's works bear the title 'Promised Land' but there are also many of his paintings that address this in less direct ways. The talk will look at a selection of these works and suggest connections between his works and the biblical and nationalistic notions of the Promised Land, especially the ways the paintings critique these.

Judith Brown Judith Brown B.A. (Hons); B.D; M.Th; PhD (Otago) has been a lecturer in theology and culture at Laidlaw College and St. John the Evangelist College, and is a part-time Minister in the Presbyterian Church. She has created courses for distance learning programmes and has a number of articles published on topics that include theology and the arts.

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One of the cloisters within the University of Milan - originally, before renovation, the Ospedale Maggiore designed by Antonio Filarete. (Photo - Murray Rae)

PLACES FULL OF TIME


Professor Murray Rae

Sunday, 21 May, 2017 7.00pm .

The nature of time has often puzzled the Western mind. Time keeps slipping through our fingers, it seems: the present dissolves relentlessly into the past, and is lost, while the future is not yet. Saint Augustine is one among many who has confessed his puzzlement at the nature of time.


In this lecture I will explore the capacity of architecture to resist the elusiveness of time. Our experience of architecture will be interpreted both as an encounter with the past, and as bringing the future into view. The resistance offered by architect-ure to the constant flux of time and to the relentless erasure of the present thus provides a basis for conceiving of time as a capacious realm for the living of human life.


Murray Rae Murray Rae, B.Arch (Auck) BD, BA (Otago) PhD (London) is Professor of Theology at Otago University. He trained first as an architect, and then studied theology and philosophy. He is the chair of an International Colloquium on Theology and the Built Environment, and is very interested in connections between the visual arts/architecture and theology.