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Saturday, 11 May 2019

St George’s Anglican Church Venice, joins in the 58th Art Biennale

Invited guests for the private viewing before the opening to the public. The tall gentleman dressed in blue is the curator of the Khankhalaev Gallery in Moscow who put together the exhibition.
St George’s Anglican Church in Venice is ideally situated on the main thoroughfare in 'Gallery/Museum Mile’ in Venice. Recently the Chaplaincy Council took the decision to remove the pews in the nave. On doing so an ideal space for exhibitions, concerts, lectures, workshops and the like became apparent. 

Through a Venetian agent an art exhibition has now been installed focused upon the work of the emerging and acclaimed Russian painter Zorikto Dorzhiev. He has exhibited his work in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Zorikto is from the Mongolian Steppe land around Lake Baikal. His art is focused upon the life of the nomadic people of that region but not specifically Christian. Yet it most aptly illustrates the language of journeying, pilgrimage, or that sentence from the Letter to the Hebrews, ‘They acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens without fixed abode on earth’ (Hebrews 11.13) - language which is so much part of Christian spirituality. Interestingly the Moscovite curator who designed the exhibition made a point of placing four models of horsemen, seated on horseback and dressed in traditional Mongolian attire, as the centre pieces of the exhibition and riding towards the sanctuary – ‘looking for a country of their own’ (Hebrews 11.14).

The British Ambassador to Italy, Jill Morris (with back to the camera, brown jacket), converses with the team responsible for the exhibition. The younger man to her left and slightly in the background is the artist, Zorikto Dorzhiev. Later, the Ambassador used the church for a Town Hall meeting for British nationals focused on the issue of Brexit.
Thus, St George’s is now contributing along with many other galleries, exhibition centres and churches to the 58th Venice Art Biennale and is part of the ‘buzz’. The theme for this year’s Art Biennale is ‘May you live in interesting times’. It is notable that many exhibits are focused upon the issue of dispersed and marginalized people. One exhibit is a craft that sunk off the island of Lampedusa with a great loss of life.

Visitors to the private viewing. Note the statues of Mongolian horsemen. The title given them is ‘The Silk Way’. They are facing the sanctuary!
St George’s is already the focus of programmes other than worship such as the weekend concerts given by the Venice Music Project. This project makes a point of researching and performing early baroque music composed in Venice which has long been forgotten. The replacing of the pews with stackable but ergonomic chairs means that the use of the church can now be greatly widened for worship and cultural events. Such events are also a source of income which will help with the enhancement of the whole building. An appeal for a substantial renovation programme is about to be launched. The exhibition will remain open until 24th November 2019. 

An example of the art of  the artist Zorikto Dorzhiev now on display in the church. It is entitled, ’Elder Sister’s Fairytales’.


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