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Elli Masterton

Relay Blog: Engaging with the Arts

Fresh from my fine art degree, I wasn’t sure what to do next. Just like the cap I’d thrown into the sky on graduation day, my prospects felt a bit ‘up in the air’!

What do you do when you’re creative and a Christian?

I knew that I wanted to seek support as I continued my art practice outside of the comforting arms of university. So I decided on Relay, with the Arts Network Elective, which promised the opportunity to focus on what it means to love Jesus as someone involved in the arts, to work on my own projects and be mentored by Christian artists.

Three months into the elective, what’s happened so far?

The first of three arts conferences

A writer, illustrator and painter walk into a bar… but that came later. First, we gathered to present our work to each other, discuss goals, and Ali Gordon, founder of Morphe Arts, lead us in a Bible study for artists.

Honestly, now that I’ve graduated, there are times that the idea of being an artist can feel like just a pipe dream. While my friends are starting ‘real’ jobs, I’m in my garage applying paint to a panel, comparing light from light. 

But at the conference, I learnt that God is the Ultimate Artist and being creative is just as much His work as bandaging limbs and teaching literacy. Looking around at the other artists at the conference, I was struck by the reality that we aren’t alone – because we’ll be encouraging each other throughout the year to make, make, make. And the Creator of the universe promises to provide for His children!

Falmouth Arts Network

Down in Falmouth I’ve been working with a film student named Michael to establish an Arts Network. Logically the first thing to do was eat together! As a collection of arty Falmouth students we gathered around a meal. Some members shared with the group an essential part of who they are – their artistic convictions, musings and makings. I think it was fair to say that everyone present had felt the pressure of being a Christian on a creative course at university.

What does it mean to be a Christian artist?

The Arts Network students assembled again at the Falmouth CU weekend away.  This time we pondered ‘the sacred/secular divide’. The actors, writers, musicians, dancers, painters in the barn responded to cues like ‘dust’, ‘freshers’ week’ and ‘Psalm 40’.  I can’t explain how moving it was looking around the room watching students freely use the creative skills God has gifted them with.

I’ve heard that

One is nearer God’s heart
in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth
– Dorothy Francis Gurney

In the same way, I could feel that God so delights in His children’s creativity.  And when each person shared the artwork they’d made: a song, poem, drawing or sculpture, it became even clearer to me that creative Christians are meant to be the best artists they can; glorifying God by using their skills thoroughly, engaging in the culture and passionately speaking about the difference Jesus has made in their lives.

Elli Masterton is a fine artist who paints cosmic, cloudy scenes on found surfaces like metal and mirror. She says: 'I'm passionate about making awe a part of everyday life and reflecting on concepts such as the sublime. Whether this be God or His creation.  (Also, I like food and long walks on the beach).'

Find out more about the Arts Network Relay Elective. 

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