People in London didn't see the fog, until painters started painting it. Timothy Schmalz

Timothy Schmalz: Angels Unawares

 ArtWay Visual Meditation 3 November 2019

Timothy Schmalz: Angels Unawares

140 Refugees and 140 Saints

by Reinier Sonneveld

A bronze sculpture of a boat with 140 life-sized, contemporary and historical refugees, has been installed in St Peter’s Square in Rome for an indefinite time. It was unveiled on 29th September 2019. It makes quite a statement, also by Pope Francis, who oversaw the placing himself and gave it his blessing. 

The Canadian artist Timothy P. Schmalz is not afraid of robust, spiritual gestures. He is known for his Homeless Jesus, a bronze homeless man, who lies on benches in various cities the world over with wounds in his feet. It can shock us, but at the same time this is closely connected to how Jesus saw himself. He had no place to sleep, as he said himself. And he said that if you clothe someone, you clothe him.

And now we come to this monumental work with the title Angels Unawares. Schmalz alludes to the Bible text where it says that you should continue to be hospitable, because ‘by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it’ (Hebrews 13:2). It is a thought that is comparable to Homeless Jesus: the divine hides in the least expected places. The number of 140 refugees reinforces this: there are also 140 sculptures of saints standing around the square.

Perhaps this is what Jesus came to do: to win this world back for God, conquer every nook and cranny in the world and finally conquer even death with his death. He shone his light everywhere, in the most unexpected places, so that ever since we can expect God in the most unexpected places. 

A broader meaning of Schmalz’s call for hospitality is to be open to new wisdom, to changes in our life’s pathway, to insights that could, perhaps, be repugnant to us.

The political dimension of the refugee crisis is profoundly polarizing. Strangely enough what connects both poles is their standing up for the weaker ones. One pole sees the vulnerability of those who cross the border, the other pole sees the vulnerability of those who stay within borders. I see a measure of empathy shared by both poles. Perhaps the work of Schmalz offers a similar bridge. By his historical approach he suggests that we are all refugees.


Timothy Schmalz: Angels Unawares, 2019, bronze, Saint Peter’s Square, Rome. Illustrations: Angels Unawares:; Homeless Jesus:

Timothy Schmalz (1969) is a Catholic Canadian sculptor. His work is figurative and has been installed in many places in the world, of which a number of sculptures in churches in Rome and the Vatican. Schmalz describes his work as visual translations of the Bible. Although most of his work is based on a spiritual theme, he also creates large, complex, public sculptures in bronze without any religious themes. Some of these include monuments that honour veterans and fire fighters. He strives to create epic artwork that connects with viewers through design and details that not only touch the viewers on an emotional level, but also allow them to feel ‘part’ of the piece.

Reinier Sonneveld is a Dutch author and speaker. He is especially known for a number of books about the Christian faith and the controversial glossies Jesus! and Death, which he coauthored and developed. He also contributed to various much talked-about projects, such as7keer7, the Goot 500 and Denkstof. He has written more than 100 songs for children, a picture book and three musicals. He was one of the founders of the online magazine Lazarus and recently his graphic novel Song of the Butterfly was published.



1. ARTWAY – We posted Jan Krist’s song ‘Hope’ in the Art and Music section.

2. RELIGIOUS HERITAGE AND IDENTITY: RESURRECTION CHURCH IN KAUNAS, LITHUANIA. The meaning of religious heritage can go beyond that of a place of worship. The Church of Christ’s Resurrection in Kaunas, Lithuania, represents Lithuanian statehood and identity as Giedrė Jankevičiūtė, professor of art history in Vilnius, explains in the following article.

3. FOR KEEN WALKERS – A new revised edition of The Two Saints Way Guide will be published next month by Northern Eye Books. David Pott: The Two Saints Way. A pilgrimage route between the cathedral cities of Chester and Lichfield. Softback, laminated cover, full colour/ over 100 colour photos/ 148 pages, £12.99. The guide is packed with information both practical and historical. It is an attractive publication with OS map extracts and numerous high quality colour photos. The Two Saints Way has a symmetrical structure with the two cathedrals at either end, Stoke Minster in the middle and two churches dedicated to St Mary at the quarter points. With this in mind, the 92 mile route is divided into four colour coded sections - 1: Chester to Nantwich, 2: Nantwich to Stoke, 3: Stoke to Stafford and 4: Stafford to Lichfield. Each section is further divided into four stages of between 3.5 and 8.5 miles in length. The route is described in both directions. You can place orders now using ISBN 978-1-908632-92-0. Please note that all the royalties from the sale of the guide will go towards The Two Saints Way Project. If you know any keen walkers please consider buying this as a present for Christmas.

4. KÄTHE KOLLWITZ IN LONDON - 12 September – 12 January 2020, British Museum, Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London: Portrait of the artist Käthe Kollwitz. This show celebrates the humanity and enduring impact of one of the most influential 20th-century printmakers – Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945). Notable for the emotional power of her drawing, printmaking and sculpture, the display explores the printed works of the socially minded German artist through self-portraits and images of the poor and dispossessed. Kollwitz lived an intensely examined life, which is expressed in her numerous self-portraits, diaries and correspondence. At the core was her work as an artist and a mastery of graphic art which quickly established her reputation first in Germany – and then further afield as her influence spread internationally after the First World War. Establishing herself in an art world dominated by men, Kollwitz developed a vision centred on women and the working class. Her two great series concerned with social injustice, Ein Weberaufstand (A Weavers’ Revolt) and Bauernkrie (Peasants’ War), demonstrate an ever-present awareness of death, especially a mother’s grief, and finally the theme of war and remembrance powerfully depicted in her magnificent woodcut series Krieg (War), shown here in London for the first time. Hours :

5. VALENTINE ALEVTINA IN PARIS, FRANCE - 4 November – 4 December, Faculté protestante de théologie 83 bd Arago, Paris 14e : Exposition de peintures États d'âmes par Valentine Alevtina, peintre belgo-ukrainienne de l'intériorité féminine. Lu – sa. 

7 November, 19 – 21 h, Faculté protestante de théologie 83 bd Arago, Paris 14: Qu'est-ce que l'âme ? Soirée musicale & brèves conversations théologiques sur fond de tableaux d'Alevtina Valentine avec Violaine Kiefer, soprano.

6. THE RENAISSANCE OF ETCHING IN NEW YORK - 23 October – 20 January 2020, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY: The Renaissance of Etching. The emergence of etching on paper in Europe in the late 15th and early 16th centuries—when the technique moved out of the workshops of armor decorators and into those of printmakers and painters—was a pivotal moment that completely changed the course of printmaking. The Renaissance of Etching will trace the first 60 years of the etched print through some 125 etchings created by both renowned and lesser-known artists, displayed alongside a selection of drawings, printing plates, etching tools, illustrated books, and armor. The works are drawn from the collections of The Met, The Albertina Museum, and a number of European and American lenders.

For more exhibitions, lectures, conferences etc. inside and outside your country, click here

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