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Make Good Lecture: Material Thought

Alastair Gordon, Jorella Andrews & James K.A. Smith

An applied conversation exploring embodied imagination, sensibility and the process of making.

How does an embodied imagination help us in this time of all times? Conversation with Jorella Andrews, James K.A. Smith and Alastair Gordon.

In the past year the creative arts have suffered greatly as a result of the pandemic crisis. We see glimmers of hope but still grieve the absence of our theatres and galleries, and the long-term impact of these closures.

In this applied conversation we hear from artist Alastair Gordon, and two leading academics working in the fields of art, philosophy and theology: Jorella Andrews & James K.A Smith. Jorella and James have a shared interest in the study of phenomenology and its theological implications. The evening began with a performative presentation of recent paintings and sketchbook work created by Alastair. This work was developed in response to Jorella and James’ recent discussion at Morphe Arts, ‘Material Futures: how an embodied vision of the new creation cultivates our imagination’. From here, Jorella and James responded and developed their thinking on matters of embodied imagination, sensibility and how they relate to the process of making.


Jorella Andrews is a Reader in Visual Culture at Goldsmiths, University of London. Having trained as a fine artist and then as an art theorist, her academic work focuses on the relations between philosophical inquiry, the image-world, and art practice, with a particular emphasis on phenomenology, notably the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. She has published two monographs on this topic, Showing Off! A philosophy of Image(2014) and The Question of Painting: Re-thinking Thought with Merleau-Ponty(2018) both published by Bloomsbury Press. Her current book in preparation has the working title of How to Turn Around Trouble: Aesthetic Strategies for Real Change. She has also written books on Cézanne and Rembrandt for non-academic audiences, edits an ongoing series of books on visual culture published by Sternberg Press, and advocates for art and art history in various contexts – professionally as a Trustee of the Association for Art History and also at grassroots levels though involvement in community-based and church-based arts activities.

Website: https://www.gold.ac.uk/visual-cultures/j-andrews/

Instagram: @jorellaandrews


James K.A. Smith is professor of philosophy at Calvin University and serves as editor in chief of Image journal, a quarterly devoted to “art, mystery, and faith.” Trained as a philosopher with a focus on contemporary French thought, Smith has expanded on that scholarly platform to become an engaged public intellectual and cultural critic. An award-winning author and widely-travelled speaker, he has emerged as a thought leader with a unique gift of translation, building bridges between the academy, society, and the church. He is author of a number of books, including Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? (2006), Desiring the Kingdom(2009), Imagining the Kingdom(2013), How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor(2014), You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit( 2016), Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology(2017) and, most recently, On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts(2019).His popular writing has appeared in magazines such as Christianity Today, First Things, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.

Jamie and his wife, Deanna, have four adult children, and live in the Heritage Hill neighbourhood of Grand Rapids where they attend Sherman Street Christian Reformed Church.

Website: http://www.jameskasmith.com

Twitter: @james_ka_smith


Alastair Gordon is an artist and a founding Director of Morphē Arts. His paintings feature in collections, art fairs and exhibitions around the world. Most recently in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Dentons Art Prize and Aleph Contemporary. He lectures in painting at the Leith School of Art in Edinburgh and was artist in residence for the City and Guilds of London Art School last year.

Alastair is author of God Art: Signs of Faith in Contemporary Art (Morphē 2019), Beyond Air Guitar (Piquant 2010) and his latest book, Why Art Matters will be published by IVP in June 2021. He works from his London studio which looks over a garden which he has been converting over several years from it’s previous function as a metal yard.

Website: https://www.alastairjohngordon.com

Instagram: @alastair_gordon

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