Symposium of Art at Surry Hills Parish during February

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St Peter's Surry Hills
A full orchestra and choir led an afternoon of solemn commemoration of the end of the War to end all Wars including the 114 parishioners from St Peter’s who served. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Open to all lovers of art

Those who love art and reflecting on its unique power to communicate profound things have a real treat in store.

St Peters parish Surry Hills will be hosting a weekly symposium of Catholic aesthetics open to all lovers of art in the month of February.

The forum, titled Festival of Beauty, aims to foster a Catholic oriented space where the transcendentals of beauty – and implicitly goodness and truth – are examined and explored at leisure after 10.30am sung Mass on Sunday morning.

The glory of medieval architecture: this photograph shows part of the interior vaulted ceiling of Canterbury Cathedral. Photo: 123rf.com

“When something is beautiful there is inherent order that lifts the spirit towards the divine”

“What we are trying to do in the festival is to reach out to those missing out on the exposure to beauty and need something to rejuvenate that,” said The Festival of Beauty organiser and St Peter’s parishioner John O’Brien.

“The absence of beauty is chaos. Beauty, essentially, therefore has to include the transcendentals because when something is beautiful there is inherent order that lifts the spirit towards the divine,” said John.

John, a specialist architect in ecclesial design with projects in New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, Canberra, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, is no stranger to the importance of beauty intersecting the physical and spiritual realm.

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel the Creation of Adam PUBLIC DOMAIN

John hopes that the Festival of Beauty will ferment a culture of art in Sydney that is focused on physical communities as opposed to abstractions on screens.

get away from social media and computers and let beauty speak

“I feel as if this forum will lead to other things- perhaps other talks and other things that will help go along the same lines and expand thinking,” John said.

“The more people are exposed to beauty and more people that allow themselves to be exposed to beauty – to get away from social media and computers and let beauty speak to oneself.”

Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris celebrates a Mass in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

The Festival of Beauty will begin on Sunday 31 January and end on Sunday 21 February. Keynote speakers will be, in chronological order:

  • Professor Renée Köhler-Ryan from the University of Notre Dame who will discuss beauty in art on Sunday 31 January
  • Harry Stephens, former lecturer in architecture at UNSW speaking on beauty in architecture on Sunday 7 February
  • Dr David Larkin from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music speaking on beauty in sacred music on Sunday 14 February
  • Fr Stephen Hackett speaking about the beauty of the liturgy on Sunday 21 February
The Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral, directed by Thomas Wilson, lead worship in song at the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening 20 April. Photo: Giovanni Portelli.

Final Mass of the forum will be celebrated by Bishop Richard Umbers

The final Mass of the forum will be celebrated by Bishop Richard Umbers – a keen supporter of the forum – along with Fr Hackett and parish priest Fr MacDonald.

To register or for more information visit the St Peter’s Surry Hills parish website at www.stpeterssurryhills.org.au

Attendance is free and open to the general public. However, registration is essential due to the COVID-19 pandemic.