Introducing Catalyst Festival’s First Ever Artist in Residence…

Catalyst Festival 2018 will feature our first ever artist in residence: Alastair John Gordon (or Ally to his friends). We caught up with Ally to find out what he’s up to at the moment and what he’ll be bringing to the Festival.


So, what is an artist in residence?
An artist in residence brings a bit of colour and creativity to the week. We know God is invested in the creative arts as all acts of making are born from his character. The arts shape the way we think and act. The job of an artist in residence is to bridge the gap between the church and the arts to open possibilities for understanding and dialogue. Through the week I’ll be exhibiting my own paintings, running a few seminars on art and opening the doors for you to come and make something as well.


There are obviously some people who wouldn’t say that they are particularly artistic. How do you think an artist in residence can serve them at the festival?
Aren’t we all made in the image of a creator God? When people say they’re not artists it often means they’re lacking in confidence, need a little instruction or just aren’t interested. With just one week, I can’t do much about the latter (but you’re missing out on the most glorious expression of God’s grace through his creation!) but I can certainly help with the first two.


On the other hand, there are a growing number of artistic practitioners in Catalyst churches who’ll be joining us at the Festival in 2018. What will you be doing for those guys at the festival?
There’s so much we can say here. We’ll be discussing the role of the artist in contemporary culture and signs of faith in the creative arts. We’ll also discuss some of the nitty gritty around making a living in the arts, working with integrity and paying the bills without selling out. I work in the art world. I don’t work for a church. I’m looking forward to meeting fellow practitioners, especially those who are out there in the workplace and real art worlds.


What are you up to at the moment?
I’m working on paintings for a show here in London in the new year. The studio is full of drawings, spreadsheets and empty coffee cups. I have a show that opened four weeks ago in New York which is very exciting and runs until early January. Praying for good follow up on that.

In Morphe, we just launched a new lecture series about the good art can serve in society. Check out the MAKE GOOD Lectures on the website. God has been very kind and I’m thrilled so many people come who don’t identify in the Christian tradition. It’s been very encouraging and a challenge as we think about what God might want for us next. The regular crit groups, group shows and gigs carry on as usual. I also lecture in painting at the Leith School of Art in Edinburgh. We’re running a new course this year on professional practice which has prompted me to pull up my socks a little before I start lecturing on being professional!


So, yet another reason to book your tickets! Check out the ‘Festival’ tab at the top of the page for more information, and to stay up to date with the creative and artistic stuff going on at the festival, keep an eye on

By Jonny Mellor

Jonny Mellor

Jonny is an elder at ChurchCentral in Birmingham, and leads Sputnik, a project dedicated to showcasing and supporting art with a Christian worldview. He is married to Jemma and they have three children.