Recent Projects

Text & Image Scheme (2021)

‘Art as Revelation’ collaborations and exhibition

This scheme aims to create a space for artists and postgraduate researchers in theology to collaborate, exploring the relationship between spiritual and religious text and art. This will deepen the research students’ understanding of the creation of text-inclusive art, and enable the making of original images for scholarly analysis.

Drawing on the previously successful University of St Andrews-led TheoArtistry scheme for poets (2018) and composers (2016/17), as well as the student-led collaborations (2018/19), the Text&Image collaborations will team artists with postgraduate researchers to explore areas of overlap between spiritual and religious text and art. The aim is to deepen our understanding of the process and the reasons that lead visual artists to include text in their compositions, in order better to understand art addressing religious and spiritual themes, and art more in general.

This TheoArtistry scheme is co-ordinated by Dr Nicole Ruta and Dr Rebekah Dyer.

TheoArtistry: Text & Image will be hosting a collaborative exhibition of artworks created for the scheme, to be held in St Andrews, Scotland in 2021.

Cancer Fiction Library Project (2019-2021)

This project aims to investigate how the arts can be used to meet cancer patients’ need and desire for spiritual care. New forms of care that help patients to find meaning in their experiences of cancer are urgently required, as patients’ spiritual needs are overlooked in contemporary healthcare practices. Designed and led by ITIA doctoral student Ewan Bowlby, the Cancer Fiction Library project has led to the creation and pilot-testing of new spiritual care resources for cancer patients.

Working in collaboration with Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres, Ewan has trialled two innovative, arts-based forms of spiritual care nationally across Scotland. The Maggie’s Fiction Library is a library of novels, films and television series, and an accompanying guidebook. This resource has been available to use in Maggie’s Centres in Dundee, Edinburgh, Kirkcaldy, and Lanarkshire since February 2020. The Maggie’s Fiction Library Guide invites people affected by cancer to use this library of fictional stories to explore their personal experiences of cancer. A series of guided group discussions has also been trialled in collaboration with Maggie’s Centres. These groups have provided evidence of the value of using popular artforms to initiate and enrich the communal discussion of cancer patients’ spiritual concerns. Through these trials, the Cancer Fiction Library project has shown how the arts can support and enrich a cancer patients’ search for meaning by reflecting and reframing patients’ experiences and introducing them to new perspectives on their situation.

During the first Covid-19 lockdown in England, Ewan worked with the Northumberland Cancer Support Group (NCSG) to explore how the arts could be used to sustain a sense of community and connection amongst cancer patients forced to shield. An online “Virtual Reading Group” was designed using research from the Cancer Fiction Library Scheme. Novels and television series provided a means of drawing support group members together to discuss spiritual concerns during the pandemic. This revealed how the arts can support a collaborative process of spiritual discovery amongst vulnerable, isolated patients.

Past Projects

TheoArtistry collaborative projects bring together the approaches of theology and the arts to produce innovative creative works and fresh theological insights through a variety of media.

Previous TheoArtistry collaborations have produced exciting new works of theologically-engaged music and poetry, led by Dr George Corbett.