These four paintings carry the title 'My Back Yard'. So often we practice 'NIMBYism', being keen to keep certain people at a distance, or not realising how important they are to us. Others are simply not part of our awareness, yet fulfil a vital role. I count myself privileged that those represented through these paintings have been important influences in my life, and that I have been led to recognise the fact.
These paintings relate to Seafarers, homeless people, those who live with impaired intellectual capacity (learning disabilities, dementia), refugees.
A period as a Director of the Sailors' Society (chaplaincy to seafarers around the world) made me aware of our dependence on these folk who sacrifice much of family life etc. to bring 90% of all we consume to the UK by sea.
Working with Solihull Churches Action on Homelessness highlighted the fact that street-sleepers, whose situation challenges us when shopping, are only a small percentage of the issue, with many others in refuges or sofa-surfing. They are all around us and not always 'down and out'.
The pianists are from the L'Arche Community for people with intellectual disabilities and assistants. The scene begs the question, who is guiding who? We all have gifts to give or receive - relationships are always 2-way.
Work with RESTORE in Birmingham and in helping to settle Syrian refugees in Solihull has put faces to the thousands more represented in news bulletins. It is too easy to consider Calais as none of our business.
In these ways I am conscious of the place of these in my life, but continue to be challenged by the teaching and example of Jesus in the light of which I am aware of my failings.