Aesthetic life is as integral to being human as building sandcastles on the beach and giving your children names. Calvin Seerveld

Jake Flood: Reflection

ArtWay Visual Meditation June 27, 2021

Jake Flood: Reflection

Stillness and Turbulence

by Jonathan Evens

I was recently a judge for the Chaiya Art Awards, the UK’s largest awards exploring spirituality through the visual arts which for 2021 had the theme of ‘God is…’ From over 700 entries 50 visual artists featured in the winner’s exhibition explored the theme and encouraged us to look beyond, to discern what cannot be seen and grasp what cannot be described. Jake Flood’s Reflection is a profound expression of that encouragement.

Flood’s photograph is of Vesqua, a sculpture by British artist William Pye (b. 1938) which was among 70 contemporary sculptures installed in Gloucester Cathedral for Crucible 2 in 2014. Vesqua remained there until Easter 2015 when it was used as a font to baptise several people. Vesqua (2008) is from Pye’s series of Brimming Bowl water sculptures. Since the mid-seventies he has been inspired by the extraordinary qualities of water. A fascination with the natural laws of hydrostatics and how these can be manipulated has become an integral and crucial element of his sculptures, as with his font for Salisbury Cathedral.

Water is the predominant feature of Vesqua, its surface reflecting and extending the surrounding architecture. Surface tension maintains a flat disc of apparently still water at a level that is perceptibly higher than the rim of its bronze container. A significant flow of water enters the vessel and as this rises turbulence disappears to give an effect of stillness, despite the fact that some 135 litres of water per minute are slipping down the throat of a square internal weir that draws water down to a reservoir below. In this way, two contrasting aspects of water are woven seamlessly together: stillness expressed in the reflecting surface, and the flow and movement through the square edged weir.

Flood has said that: ‘The reflections edging the font mirror the ancient stories expressed in the surrounding stained glass. The centre is empty, offering a space to reflect and connect with God. I don’t believe in any deity, but working with survivors of slavery, moments of reflection, silence and stillness have expanded to enable community, cooperation and the beginnings of new stories – maybe that is God.’

Flood’s image sets the square edged weir at the centre creating a space that is empty and dark. The apophatic tradition in Christianity maintains that the place of emptiness – both personally and through the renunciation of images – is the place of encounter with God. As several Psalms suggest darkness can be a covering for God and, also, our closest friend.

Fringing the central space are reflections of the Cathedral’s stained glass which lie beyond the sculpture, but which the water’s stillness enables us to glimpse. Although the centre of the image is empty and monochrome, Flood’s image shares with us the surrounding diversity of colour. We cannot fully see the stained glass or read its story but can see sufficient to appreciate its richness.

Stillness and turbulence are core to Pye’s sculpture and feature, too, in Flood’s reflection. Turbulence, in working with survivors of slavery. Stillness, in moments of reflection during art therapy that enable connection.  

Flood has created an image that is both apophatic and cataphatic, negative and positive, which reveals that God is absence and presence, stillness and disturbance, central and beyond. In these ways Flood’s image encourages us to look beyond, to discern what cannot be seen and grasp what cannot be described.


Jake Flood: Reflection, 2021, photograph, 30 x 45 cm (h x w). Image ©The Artist.

Jake Flood is a British photographer and counsellor at Jake Flood Counselling, an Unseen ambassador and former manager of Unseen’s Men’s Safehouse, where he has led mindful photography sessions. Making photographs has enabled many survivors to begin to build confidence, heal wounds and find peace after their exploitation. He has more than 30 years of experience working in mental health, is a registered member of the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) and has spent the last five years working with male victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Unseen has its roots in Christianity, but this competition is open to people of all faiths, to those who have no belief in God, and to everyone in between. It’s about continuing an age-old conversation in a modern setting with contemporary eyes. It’s about asking big questions and looking for inspiration from the wealth of the UK’s creatives. These awards partner with Unseen to work toward ending human trafficking and modern slavery. The 2021 exhibition is showcasing some of the most innovative and exciting artists expressing their creativity in response to the theme ‘GOD is…’ View the exhibition online at

Jonathan Evens is Associate Vicar for HeartEdge at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, UK. Through HeartEdge, a network of churches, he encourages congregations to engage with culture, compassion and commerce. He is co-author of The Secret Chord, an impassioned study of the role of music in cultural life written through the prism of Christian belief. He writes regularly on the arts for a range of publications and blogs at



1. POETIC MEDITATIONS ON THE PSALMS COURSE BY MALCOLM GUITE - 28 June – 2 July, 8.30 – 11.30 h, Regent College, Vancouver, Canada, online: David’s Crown: Poetic Meditations on the Psalms. By Malcolm Guite. Embark on a poetic journey through the book of Psalms, exploring how these Scriptures both prophesy the coming of Christ and his kingdom and also give voice to our own inner life of prayer and longing for God, touching on topics like memory, hope, nature, justice, anger, and despair.

2. CROSSINGS 2022, A SCRIPTURAL STATIONS OF THE CROSS – A Contemplative Public Arts Exhibition in Various Central Toronto Locations, March 2 – April 14, 2022. Crossings will be a Journey to Easter Arts Exhibition and is one of a series of urban exhibits that began in 2016 and has taken place in London, Washington, New York, Amsterdam and Deventer Netherlands. In 2022 Toronto will host a uniquely Canadian version. The public will be invited to visit distinctive artworks created by Canadian artists specifically to capture the meaning of the iconic biblical story expressed in Scriptural Stations of the Cross. Outdoor visual art installations will comprise the exhibit and along with other artistic expressions will draw from the narrative its unique relevance for issues that confront us in our contemporary world. Major institutions, organizations and various places of worship have expressed interest in participating in this ecumenical project. Crossings (

3. 2022 MANDORLA ART AWARD, AUSTRALIA’S CHRISTIAN ART PRIZE – The theme for the 2022 Mandorla Art Award is: Metamorphosis – a profound or radical change. Reference: “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19). In our pandemic world people have been forced to change their behaviour, work habits, eating habits, socialising rituals, and many other aspects of life. In our contemporary world, environmental changes affect oceans, land and humankind. Artists can help us to understand the depth of these changes and open us up to new ways of seeing what is possible, what is abhorrent, what is virtuous, what is needed. The Mandorla Art Award for 2022 has chosen Metamorphosis as its theme so we can continue to develop our understanding of what these radical changes mean to us today. There are multiple layers in the theme for artists to explore, providing reflection and opening meaningful conversations for visitors to the exhibition, which a public program will explore further. Read more

4. SHOULD OBJECTS THAT GLORIFY OPPRESSION BE REMOVED? – In a recent Radio Ulster interview, Sarum College Trustee the Revd Chigor Chike argues that the starting point for dealing with publicly displayed objects which glorify oppression should be to remove them. Read the article 

5. VIDEO ABOUT GAUDÍ AND THE SAGRADA FAMILIA – Chiara Curti, an architect with the Eugenia Ballcells Foundation, was recently featured in a video that examines the works of the famous architect Antoni Gaudí on one of his most famous projects, the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain. Chiara shares with us the intimate and spiritual relationship between Gaudí and nature as she explores the cathedral. This video also gives a unique and never before seen perspective into one of Europe's most original and iconic religious heritage sites.

6. LA NUIT DES ÉGLISES, FRANCE - 25 juin – 5 juillet, La Nuit des églises 2021. Venez célébrer les 10 ans de La Nuit des églises lors de cette édition 2021 ! Evènement festif proposé par l’Église catholique en France, la Nuit des églises est une invitation à découvrir des centaines d'églises et leurs trésors, à travers les manifestations artistiques les plus variées. L'espace de la nuit est propice à ces rencontres en ces lieux si spécifiques que sont les églises, où s'établit naturellement la passerelle entre cultuel et culturel. A découvrir sans modération dans toute la France.

7. UPCOMING DIGITAL CONFERENCE CHURCHES IN TRANSITION IN GERMANY - 8 July – 10 July. A digital conference will examine the experiences of religious heritage sites going through the process of reuse in Germany. The digital conference “Churches in Transition - Experiences and Perspectives between the Eifel and the Lower Rhine” organized by the Research Group on Transformation of Sacred Space will take place on 8-10 July. The language of the conference will be German. The conference will offer a unique perspective on religious heritage reuse and foster a debate on what a proper transformation process should look like for religious heritage buildings. More information can be found on the organisation's website. Read more

8. EXHIBITION EDIN BAIRIĆ AND NIKOLA SARIĆ IN HANNOVER GERMANY - 25 June – 25 July, Zukunftswerkstatt Ihme-Zentrum, Hannover: Yes? Yes! Kunstausstellung mit Werken von Edin Bajrić und Nikola Sarić. Öffnungszeiten:

9. RENATO SANTAROSSA IN LINNICH GERMANY - 2 May – 19 September, Deutsches Glasmalerei-Museum, Rurstraße 9-11, Linnich: Licht Schatten Transparenz. Glasbilder und Glasskulpturen von Renato Santarossa. Der 1943 in Bozen geborene Künstler schafft mit seiner Kunst etwas, das eigentlich unmöglich ist. Er macht Licht sichtbar, oder wie der Künstler es beschreibt: Er malt mit Licht. Dabei ist Glas der einzige Werkstoff, der dies ermöglicht. Denn Licht, das wir im Alltag allenfalls als Helligkeit wahrnehmen, bleibt doch für uns wenig greif- und sichtbar. Und an dieser Stelle setzt Renato Santarossa mit seinen Glasskulpturen und Wandbildern an. In seinen Skulpturen und Bildern, streng sachlich in ihrer Linienführung, verbirgt sich eine innere Schönheit. Denn in ihnen bricht sich das Licht, zeigt Farbschatten, Formen, Strukturen und führt dem Betrachter immer wieder überraschende Effekte vor Augen. Dabei lassen sich die Kunstwerke ständig neu entdecken. Schon eine geringfügig veränderte Perspektive oder Lichtsituation führt zu einer völlig neuen Möglichkeit der Betrachtung. Di – So, 11 – 17 U.

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

ArtWay is a website with resources for congregations and individuals concerned about linking art and faith.


Other recent meditations:
- July 2021: William Blake: The Book of Job
- July 2021: Church of the Resurrection in Beslan, Russia
- July 2021: Mats Rehnman: Annunciation
- July 2021: Rick Andrew: Church of Blue Heaven

For more Visual Meditations, see under Artists