Sputnik is the network of artists based in Catalyst and we’re presently changing shape.

Up until this year, we’ve run a couple of national arts projects and run a few artist gathering events, but we’ve been working hard over the last 12 months to encourage more local face to face interaction, collaboration and general creative camaraderie. The solution: Sputnik Hubs!


Sputnik Hub (SPUT-nik-HUB; collective noun)

Def: a group of artists connected to a local church (or more likely local churches) that meets up to encourage and challenge each other to excel in their craft and think through issues relating to art, faith and church.

I’ve been bandying this term around for a while but at the beginning of this year, I realised that I had no idea practically what such a group might look like. Therefore, since then, we’ve sought to make this idea concrete. Birmingham seemed like the natural place to start, so in March, we kicked off our Brum Sputnik hub and went from there.

The plan was as follows:

1) Meet once a term for a Saturday afternoon in a home. Aiming for between 10 and 20 people each time (we have a pool of about 50 who’ve expressed some interest in being involved)

2) Personally invite all the Christian creatives we knew who were (or at least were interested in) engaging with people outside the church through their art, who were: a) In Catalyst churches or were b) Christian friends any of us knew

3) Do four things when we met together: a) Eat food b) Discuss stuff that is particularly relevant to the intersection of our art and faith c) Give opportunity for everyone to share and talk about out own work d) Pray for each other

To achieve b), and kickstart c), we thought it would be great to invite in artists from different disciplines each time who are a bit ahead of most of the rest of us and/or have some particularly interesting projects to share. In our three Brum Sputnik Hub meetings so far, we’ve been blown away first by fine artist Ally Gordon, then by graphic designer Luke Tonge and last time by the tag team of Chris Donald and Stewart Garry who talked us through their exceptional Sojourner project.

The idea was that these gatherings could kickstart all sorts of other interesting connections and projects, and lo and behold, that’s exactly what has happened. We’ve done a few little field trips (outings to interesting art events in the locality to help us get to know each other a bit better), but most significantly, on the suggestion of Chris Donald, we’ve just started our first Brum Sputnik Hub art project. It’s on a theme, but most importantly requires people to work collaboratively, preferably with people who are from a different discipline. At February’s Brum Hub gathering, we will then showcase the work and see where it goes from there.

So, at this point in time, we have a working model on the ground of how to do church based, creative gatherings that are fun and purposeful. Therefore, it was brilliant to travel down to Bedford last Saturday to kick off our second Sputnik Hub, which Phil and Harri Mardlin are leading. A third one is in the wings too, as well as a possible fourth, which may take a slightly different form (I’ll keep this vague and intriguing for the moment).

Anyway, I thought I’d share this as we’re quite pleased with how this is all shaping up and we’d love to get you involved. If you’d like to connect in with our Brum or Bedford hubs, you’d be more than welcome and the best way to contact me is probably through Facebook or Twitter. If not, keep your eyes peeled for further developments, or if you’d like to start one of your own hubs in your area, I’d love to hear from you too.

I’ve seen the future and the future is Sputnik hubs!

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.