The latest show at the Side Gallery in Newcastle. This is a series of images taken by Liz Hingley of the bewildering number of different religious communities along a two mile stretch of one road in Birmingham. A mix of apparently staged and candid portraits with some internal and external views of the buildings within which the various communities worship, mostly within repurposed domestic settings. Most of the images are A3 prints but a few, grouped in clusters of four, are slightly smaller. A really nice touch is that they are all presented in dull gold coloured frames – bevelled with an internal row of little studs/beads (for want of a better word and without knowing the technical term for this sort of frame) – slightly incongruous in the context of a modern gallery but appropriate given the domestic nature of these places of worship.
Some of the images themselves are slightly incongruous, not least one of a couple of Thai Buddhist monks, in traditional robes (not perhaps ideally suited to the ‘climate’, if it could possibly be called that, of Birmingham! (The thirty-first picture in the sequence on the artist’s own web-site.)
I am not a religious person (though brought up – without much cooperation on my part – as a Catholic I am now what might be termed a non-theological or secular Buddhist: see Stephen Batchelor’s most recent book,(2015) After Buddhism. Yale: Yale University Press.) and am in many ways very anti established religion (not least established Buddhism!) but nevertheless I found this a very warm, humane, inclusive and welcoming view of religion in all its divers forms. A very welcome show in our increasingly intolerant and xenophobic times.