1st June, 2016. About noon. The last of the Festival exhibition has been packed into the van. Bleary eyed and still slightly wired on adrenaline, I wave goodbye to the Catalyst Festival. A disquieting question suddenly looms over me: how can the Sputnik team follow such a packed programme of live art, creative workshops and artist meet ups? It is that question that the Sputnik crew have been pondering, on and off, for the last two years. But now the pondering is over. The Festival Magazine is at the printers and plans have now been laid out.


We’ve got arts workshops (as usual) and a Sputnik exhibition (standard) and there’ll be loads of opportunities for artists, whatever their discipline to meet like minds, connect and spark (of course). However, we’ve got some new stuff too. The most important development is that we have our first ever Catalyst Festival ‘Artist in Residence’. Alastair Gordon is a fine artist and art lecturer and he leads the Christian arts network, Morphe. He’s a legend, and it’s such a privilege to have him at the heart of this year’s festival, showcasing his work, furthering our understanding of how Christianity can interact with the arts, and basically being a living, breathing example of how to make work, as a Christian, that meaningfully enters into the cultural conversation. With his help, we’re going to have more arts seminars than in previous years, discussing everything from ‘what is God doing in the arts today?’ to ‘how to start a creative business’


Art is not just to be talked about though, and because of that we’ve upped the ante on our live art programme. Alongside Alastair’s ‘Travels in Hyper-reality’ exhibition, which will be on display for the whole festival, we’ve got two nights of live music, featuring neo-soul band Strange Ghost, rapper Mr Ekow, as well as singer songwriters Philippa Zawe, Joanna Karselis and Elisha Esquivel. Huw Evans will be launching his poetry collection ‘Minor Monuments’ in an afternoon of live poetry, alongside Tanya Chitunhu, Bernard Davis, Sharon Clark and several other talented poets and spoken word artists.


Oh, and there’ll be a craft fair. And a couple of family magic shows. And a one man show about how to live with cancer.


Overall, our aim is to inspire artists and connect them to other artists, and at the same time, give you guys who don’t consider yourself artists a chance to find out about the arts and explore why this area might be more important to the church than you’ve previously thought. Well, that’s the plan anyway. Now, to make it all actually happen. Is it really only two and a half weeks to go? I’d better stop writing blog posts and get to work. See you at Stoneleigh!

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.