Many people’s spiritual journeys recognise and embrace the creative and there is a diverse range of creative Quakers scattered across Australia. Meeting houses and gatherings are often enriched by the creative offerings of Friends whose contributions enrich the Society and the world at large. For many people, appreciating beauty and being creative are part of their spiritual expression and enhancement.
As well as the visual arts, there are Quakers who are involved in writing (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, playwriting, screen writing), film making, multimedia art practices, music, dance, theatre and performance. Many of these artists are often low-key about their Quaker connections, living out their lives in harmony with the Quaker practice of simplicity. However, most are quite passionate about their art, whatever form it takes, and are willing to share insights into their practices and inspirations.
In Britain in the 1800s, Quaker women gave kits of fabrics, threads and other materials to female convicts as they boarded the ships on which they would be transported. These kits enabled the women to be able to pursue something creative during their long voyage to Australia and gain skills and lift their spirits by making items of beauty and usefulness. Learn more about this history here.
Telling stories in embroidered fabric panels has been part of Quaker tradition for a long time. Our Friends in Stitches group has been producing beautifully embroidered panels which depict stories from Quaker history--early and modern. Similar embroideries are being made in several countries around the world - such as the Kendal Tapestries in the UK.
Quaker inclusion of the arts demonstrates the importance of maintaining joy in what we do, and keeping the spiritual in harmony with good works.
Australian Quakers are involved in many arts practices and world-wide Quaker arts communities:
The Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts has as its purpose "to nurture and showcase the literary, visual, musical, and performing arts within the Religious Society of Friends, for purposes of Quaker expression, ministry, witness, and outreach. To these ends, we will offer spiritual, practical, and financial support as way opens."
Quaker Arts Network (UK)An informal group of Quakers with interest in the arts (broadly defined), run on a voluntary basis.
Loving Earth Project (UK and worldwide), celebrates people, places, creatures and other things that we love but which are threatened by growing environmental breakdown. It offers a way in to help people engage with the issues without being overwhelmed. Read Linda Murgatroyd's article Perhaps textile art can be a form of prophecy