("Bowl of Roses" by Georgina Kinch-Lawson)

Just what is "Christian Art"?

In the purist of terms, a piece of Christian Art is a work physically created by one who identifies himself or herself as a Christian, and who acknowledges that such work was inspired by the Holy Spirit and dedicated as a form of worship to God.

That leaves it wide open as to choice of subject matter.

Currently there are very few well-recognised "Christian artists" in Australia, however, those who do exhibit, and are known as Christians, are being more widely known.

Most ancient works can only now be identified as "Christian Art" if the subject is a recognised Christian icon or depicts an event in Christian history or clearly symbolises a Christian theme. Today most Christian Art is unrecognisable as such, unless the artist ensures that his or her work has a title which places it clearly in that category, or else it is accompanied by an artist's statement clearly identifying the work. The obvious downside to this fact of modern Christian Art is of course that, as time passes, its categorisation is lost unless the title or statement always accompanies the work. This cannot be ensured. Does this mean that modern Christian Art will lose its significance in the years ahead? Perhaps so. Does this mean also that the old symbolism is the only subject matter that will guarantee the author perpetually correct identification of the work? Maybe so, but that will, according to contemporary Christian artists, like Pro Hart, not stop artists depicting any possible subject matter to reveal in art form the feeling of the heart that this work is an inspired act of Christian worship.

If that is so, then presumably those who attend a "Christian Art" exhibition will not be able to see beyond the dimension of the work itself to the spiritual input of the artist and his or her God. Not so, say Christian artists.

A committed Christian artist will tell you that no such work is commenced before all necessary prayer is undertaken to prepare both the artist and the canvas for the work of art and the work of worship. One also gets the feeling that more time can be spent in prayer than with the brush throughout the creation of the artwork.

The humble dedication of the piece to God is the finale to the art, which can then be truly called "Christian". But that is not where it ends. That is where it begins. The Christian artist has not only created a work dedicated to God to be hung in a room just to match the decor or complement the view. The work is part of the artist's Christian Ministry.

Many a Christian artist throughout the centuries, such as the great Michelangelo, created their greatest works so that the peoples of future times would see Christ in some way through the gifts the Creator had given them. Rembrandt, Rubens and Da Vinci all did the same.

Some Christian artists knew that the artwork itself, and not how it was created nor to whom it was dedicated, would be all that survived the passing of time. So the subject was carefully chosen with this in mind. Others knew, however, that the Holy Spirit of God would remain with their work long after they were gone, and would somehow continue to fulfill the purpose for which it was created.

One way to guarantee that a Christian artist's work never loses its impact as such, is to ensure that when these works appear in the artist's own exhibition, the artist's profile includes a clear reference to the Ministry behind both the art and the artist; or to make certain that the one who is to own a piece, well knows before purchasing, that what is being acquired is much more than an expression of the artist's creative gift.

Another, increasingly popular method of approaching this art form is to show in Christian only Art Exhibitions. In that way, the visitor is already prepared for the artists' ministry. Many times has someone come to an advertised Christian art exhibition looking for Christ in the artworks and been astounded when He reveals Himself in a painting of a bowl of flowers or in a sketch of a dying gumtree.

Many a Christian artist feels that art is "the gift" that God has given them, and from this belief often arises an artistic passion and an almost uncontrollable drive to reveal God in ways that match the proliferation of speeches of Christian evangelists and the books and articles of Christian authors. Pro Hart, probably Australia's most popular contemporary artist is, it seems, driven in this way, if the amount of art he produces is any indication. "I don't consider myself anything", he has often said, "It's only Jesus in me. I truly believe in my heart that God has allowed me to reach this place of success to honour Him. All this fame puts me in a great place and position to bring glory to God."

("The Joggers" by Pro Hart)
And just so there's no doubt about his commitment as a Christian artist, Pro Hart (a member of the Gideons), and his wife Raylee, give away hand-painted copies of the New Testament. Each of their five children is also an artist in their own right and each is a committed Christian using the common family gift of art as part of a growing ministry. There is a growing, non-denominational and ecumenical movement calling together people with similar gifts in music, performance and art to further spread the Christian message in Australia, through means which are far less threatening to some than the more traditional methods.

But Christian Art exhibitions are not only for the professional artist. They are a ministry in art form for everyone to be part, and more often are an invitation to anyone who feels moved to create a work in this way, to do so, and to offer it for display in such an exhibition, even if such a person has only ever created a single work.

Christian art, when driven by people with the fervour of Pro Hart, viewing from history the enthusiasm of the likes of Michelangelo, will increasingly become an integral part of the Christian ministry in Australia as it continues to grow in these times when many in our nation are looking to things such as art to soften the harsh realities of our time.

Georgina Kinch-Lawson: profile of a contemporary Australian Christian Artist

Georgina Kinch was born and educated in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Georgina's artistic career began at the age of ten years when she won both first and second prize in a local art show for two traditional landscape paintings.

As the years passed Georgina's yearning to be a fulltime artist drove her to quit the legal profession where she acted as a managing law clerk and move to Queensland to study with a former student of Sir William Dargie. It was there that she developed and refined her "Max Meldrum" style of subtlety of colour and use of light and shade.

"A Gastronomic Delight in Pastels" was the description of her first major exhibition in Mosman, Sydney in 1985, its success being a springboard for Georgina to move to Paris, France, then on to the small town of Chatenay-Malabry, the home of D'Artagnan the Musketeer, where she lived and painted her favourite subjects of chateaux, forests and fields of flowers. The magnificent Musee D'Orsay proved to be another potent source of inspiration for Georgina.

Soon after returning to Australia, she fulfilled a life-long dream by setting up her own art gallery in Paddington, Sydney, and was thrilled when eighteen of her works were sold on opening night.

Georgina keenly promoted both local and overseas artists by holding many successful exhibitions at her "Georgina Kinch Gallery" where she regularly conducted classes in the "Meldrum" method of painting.

ln 1991, Georgina was invited to hold a solo exhibition in New Zealand where every one of the thirty paintings exhibited was sold. This is a rare occurence for any artist. Sellout exhibitions in Bowral, Sydney, "Peppers"in the Hunter Valley and Auckland, New Zealand have led to her works being featured in National magazines such as "Country Style", "Interiors" and "House & Garden". Commissions for still-life paintings of fruit, flowers and vegetables keep her very busy, her topiaries being in great demand.

Georgina has become a specialist in oils, acrylic, gouache and the beautiful and luminous medium of pastel. Her style has evolved from French Provincial to a stylised Realism.

A fine selection of reproductions of her paintings is now featured on beautiful glossy-print Greeting cards and gift paper which are regularly updated with her latest works. These cards are collectors' items in themselves.

Georgina Kinch-Lawson's paintings are included in private collections throughout Australia, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, Holland and the United States. Her works will continue to appreciate in value.

She now combines painting with a hectic family life and a greater application to her Christian ministry.

Georgina, like Pro Hart in Broken Hill, firmly believes that no matter where she is geographically, God can and will use her if she continues to commit all of her art to her Christian ministry. Georgina, an artist today with regular national and international clients, initially believed that she had to move to where the market was for her product to be more readily sold. But God told her to stay where she was. Now she says that if you are obedient to what God is calling you to do, God can bring the market to you or else create one right where you are. She has learned the value in the Christian ethic "grow where God planted you."

A simple marketing tool like the Internet has dramatically increased her international market while she continues to enjoy the lifestyle of country Australia. Georgina continues to see that God has a reason for wanting her to stay where she is.

Like many artists, Georgina is naturally gifted and she regularly reminds herself of the words in 2 Timothy 1:6 to "..keep alive the gift that God gave you.." This keeps her continuing to produce works despite a busy life as wife and mother, but there is no doubt that to her Christ is first, art is second.

Georgina knows that God's gifts are not all the same. She does know, however, that her gift is art and to be able to express in artform her love of fine cuisine, nature's produce and her country surroundings. She knows God wants her to reach people, and if He needs to do it through their senses, He will.

Georgina prays in the spirit before, during and after painting, and before each painting is delivered to a client, she prays again that her work be anointed and that it may minister to all who view it. She has had many non-Christian people comment to her on how in a deep sense her work affects them; comments such as "..there is just something about your work that draws me to it" or "...when I look at your work my heart feels so peaceful." Georgina is firmly convinced after years of hearing such comments that our Creator is reaching out to others through her artwork.

Her passion for Christ is so evident when you speak to Georgina. "I want so much to share the fact with people that my exhibitions are spiritually based", she said, as her last exhibition was opened by internationally acclaimed Australian evangelist Eddie Coe. "That evening was so blessed", she states with girl like effervescence, "Many persons were ministered to that time by the Holy Spirit. Many unsaved people had their first real taste of the anointing of God. One lady suffering from cancer shared how she so desperately needed to hear the words that were spoken that night at the opening, where people came to hear about art but instead heard about Jesus."

"Cabbage on Pine Table"(by Georgina Kinch-Lawson)

To be a Christian artist does not mean only painting Christ or other icons of the faith. "What it does mean is that you paint with a renewed perspective", she says in the humble but vibrant lounge room of her Taree home in which hang two of her grand examples of inert subjects brought magnificently to life. "God is in everything, whether it be the view from a kitchen window or sitting on a rock in a rainforest marvelling at His creation, or a simple rosy red apple. Each thing is such an individual creation, never to be repeated. I try to help people to appreciate the ordinary: a cabbage sitting on a kitchen table; a pot of flowers; a bowl of lemons."

Georgina's enthusiasm goes beyond her own personal desire to minister with her art. She is keen to encourage other artists to use their gifts for purposes far and beyond the sale of a painting. "May I encourage all Christians, who have some gift in the area of art, to join me in praying for your work and let the Holy Spirit of God lead you so that others may sense from your work your desire to give glory to God in a way that perhaps you have never done before."

A founding member of the Godfest Christian Exhibition and Art Prize, Georgina has again seen how God has provided her with yet another wonderful opportunity to develop and expand her gifts and to share them to untold numbers of people into the exciting years ahead.