Quakers and the Arts - some resources

These are a few publications about Quakers and the Arts, with personal comments from individual members of QAN. (These are not endorsed by QAN as an organisation). Most are available through the Quaker Bookshop. http://www.quaker.org.uk/quaker-centre

In due course we hope to expand this section of the website and include a wider selection of the arts, including poetry. If you would like to be involved with this developing project, please contact the QAN convenor.



Quakers and the Arts Frederick J Nicholson, 18968 Quaker Home Service Committee

A classic wide-ranging survey of the attitudes of British Quakers to the arts from George Fox's day to the 1960s. Stronger on history and on the arts of poetry, theatre and literature than on the visual arts (with very few pictures) it is a well-researched, landmark publication of its time.



A Speaking Silence: Quaker Poets of Today edited by Rosie Bailey and Stevie Krayer, 2013 A splendid anthology exploring the real world in all its light and shade, seen through a distinctively Quaker poetic lens. These are good poems, and thoroughly contemporary in their variety of topics, voices, approaches and styles, the formal as well as the more experimental. These are poems that disturb silence significantly, as W S Graham said all good poetry should. They are poems to move you, delight you - and make you think.


by John Ormerod Greenwood Signs of Life, Art and Religious Experience (Swarthmore Lecture). Friends Home Service Committee. 1978  

In this lecture, Ormerod Greenwood set out to address the view, still widely held in the 1970s, that "Quakerism has nothing whatever to do with the arts", and to explore how God can be discovered through the arts. It looks not only at aspects Christian art and theology but more widely at "great masters" in different artistic fields and how these can nurture the spirit and express religious experience, even if their form is not overtly a religious one.


Images and Silence (Swarthmore Lecture) by Brenda Clifft Heales and Chris Cook. 1992. Quaker Home Service.

A deeply-grounded consideration of the future of Quaker ministry and the role that images may play, drawing on their personal experience and on their wide knowledge of theology and the arts. They look at the role of "images towards God" and "the imagelessness of God", drawing on the ministries of Julian of Norwich and of Meister Eckhart, and of their own "Appleseed" ministry which uses the creation of images as a tool for responding to and exploring leadings of the spirit and for carrying God's silence into the world.

Seeding the Spirit: the Appleseed Workbook by Chris Cook and Brenda Heales.(Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, 2001. 

A workbook for individuals or groups wishing to explore themes of prayer, meditation, the mystics and the arts. The authors offer diverse ways of responding to these themes through simple creative activities and provide detailed instructions on how to do so, based on their many years of working in their Appleseed ministry at Woodbrooke and travelling widely. Distinctive, inspirational, enabling and impeccably presented.

Quakers and the Arts: Plain and Fancy by David Sox, 2000 

The author presents historical shifts in British and North American Quaker attitudes toward the arts as shown through short biographies of well-known painters, writers, poets and actors. Spanning the 18th to the 20th centuries, David Sox places their lives in historical context. omits much of what has been happening in the wider Quaker community.

Inspired by Worship: Quaker Arts Calendar 2014

This calendar publishes art works in a variety of styles and media inspired by Quaker worship from the 17th to the 21st century, making many of them accessible for the first time. An unusual visual resource for outreach, meeting libraries, and personal inspiration, the images can be used separately in displays or framed. Information the artists and about different aspects of Meeting for worship are included. Full colour, 30cm by 30cm.
Curated and edited by Linda Murgatroyd, Anne McNeil Pulati and Penny Robbins.
A few copies remain and are available from the QAN Treasurer, Nettlebank, Wootton Rivers, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 4NQ, UK. Please enclose a cheque for £4 per calendar to cover Postage and packing, payable to 'Quaker Arts Network'. 

Pictorial Guide to the Quaker Tapestry By Edward H Milligan, 1998

From 1981 to 1996 - 4,000 men, women and children from 15 countries have helped to make the Quaker Tapestry, a unique community work of art that tells and shows the story of Quakerism. The pictorial guide beautifully illustrates, in full colour with accompanying text, all 77 panels. For other publications about the tapestry, see the Quaker Tapestry Website .

Go Inside to Greet the Light by Yorkshire Quaker Arts Project (video)  

Short films inspired by James Turrell's Deer Shelter (2006) in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Evocative and contemplative. They are no substitute for visiting the installation but certainly whet the appetite and show something of its visual and spiritual impact on visitors.

See also their website http://goinsidetogreetthelight.com

Climb up to the Moor by Judith Bromley Nicholls. Beech House publications, 2012 

A beautiful journal in paintings and words of the artist's walks in the Dales around Askrigg, Yorkshire, celebrating the myriad forms of life, weather and evolution and ways of life. With additional contributions from Robert Nicholls and a number of local people. Full of wonder and also thought-provoking.

The Quiet Eye: a way of looking at pictures by Sylvia Shaw Judson, 1982  

A beautiful little book of images or artworks and short texts from many periods and traditions, which lead one into quiet reflective space.

The British Museum Christ by Rowena Loverance (2004) 

For this little book, Rowena Loverance has selected wonderful images of Christ made in many different times and places from the British Museum's collection. Alongside each is a deft commentary on both the artwork and its religious meaning, quoting the relevant biblical texts. An invitation to reflection and also an excellent introduction to the Christian story.

The Hoffnung Symphony Orchestra by Gerard Hoffnung 

Gerard Hoffnung was a musician, cartoonist and humorist, whose brilliant and absurd drawings, mostly on a musical theme, have delighted music lovers throughout the world. His deep concern for social justice and peace led him eventually to become a Quaker. This is one of many small collections of his musical cartoons, most of which date from the 1950s.

Sing in the Spirit  

A Quaker book of songs in many different styles. Published by the Leaveners . Reprinted 2013