Finding sanctuary when you don't talk to jesus.
The solitude and sanctuary that can be found in places of worship, is one aspect of religion where I find myself envious of churchgoers. Whilst I know many cathedrals are open to anyone, card carrying member or not, to come and use the space for personal reflection, I still need to turn elsewhere to find a true and genuine place of sanctuary. For me, that space is an art gallery.
It might sound strange, but I feel a tremendous sense of comfort and security in the vacuous open spaces of a gallery. The ceilings are high, and the rooms wide, yet I feel as if I am engulfed in the space. The minimal interiors with vast walls of white, allow my mind a certain level of clarity, whilst silently guiding me to what it wants me to see. It’s the perfect example of how architecture can impact the mind and (without getting too hippy-dippy) the soul of a person in its presence. It’s a very positive place for me.
When I’m in this space, my actions can match that of a parishioner in a pew. When I find a piece I particularly like, it often stops me momentarily, and I find myself asking questions. But, while people in prayer often ask for assistance and answers, my questions are usually that of fascination; less ‘why?’ - more ‘how?’.
“How did they paint with such small brush strokes?”
“How do they create a sense of light?”
“How long did it take them to do that?”
These questions come from a place of wonder and inspiration, rather than desperation or sadness, so whilst I may not get the answers I’m looking for, I can still leave with a level of fulfillment and rejuvenation.
I can't say that an art gallery can always substitute a place of worship for everybody, but for me, it’s a place of clarity, sanctuary, peace and inspiration. If that’s not a holy place, then what is?