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What are you looking for?

18 November – 2 January 2024 10:00am to 4:00pm
Category Art
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About the Exhibition (written by June Hill)

"What Are You Looking For?" was first shown at Melbourne Parish Church, Derbyshire during Lent 2022. The exhibition brings together the work of two artists, Michael Cook and Michelle Holmes, who have each responded to questions asked by Jesus. The artwork is shown as paired responses: a painting and a textile collage sitting alongside one another, with the stitched wording on the latter acting as a shared caption.

The works differ in scale, style and approach, yet act as companions. In this, they reflect how the same question can resonate differently, from person to person and in the varying seasons of life. Michael Cook has spoken of being struck by how direct and powerful the questions are, while Michelle Holmes has described their very human nature and universal relevance. These responses are entirely consistent with the artists’ work.

The bold colours and imagery of Michael’s paintings fill the frame. There is no escaping the impact of the question. It confronts us, asking questions of the viewer as well as the subject. Michelle’s textiles, by contrast, proffer a quiet posing of the same question. Smaller in scale and more muted in colour, her work bids us to be still and contemplate what is being asked. There is difference here, but no dissonance. Neither artist seeks to present an answer. They have chosen rather to live with the question, and to use the storytelling qualities of their work to encourage the viewer to do likewise. There is no rush to answer. This is an opportunity to dwell in the place of not knowing.

Each question used has been a collaborative decision, the specific wording determined after careful deliberation. Equal care has been taken with the placing of works. Note where you encounter a particular piece. This is part of the conversation. The movement from place to place, pair to pair, is an invitation to share a journey.

-Why are you so afraid? - Michelle Holmes, stitched textile

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