2007 06 19 (b5)

This is the fourth of a series of symposia and conference strands jointly organised by the Centre for the Bible and the Visual Imagination, University of Wales, Lampeter and the Centre for Studies in the Visual Culture of Religion, University of Wales, Aberystwyth. The aim is to: stimulate discussion and study; facilitate the publication of academic scholarship; and promote public awareness and participation at the crossroads of  Biblical Studies, Art History and Practice, and Visual Cultural Studies.

Valuable insights into the narrative of the Bible are often gained through an appreciation and critical study of the cultural afterlives of its characters, events, imagery, and doctrines. Artistic expressions of biblical themes and ideas can convey the essence of the biblical text and involve the viewer more personally and vividly than a purely literal reading of it.

Moreover, visual expressions of the Bible can draw the viewer into the very subject matter itself, serve as an interpretative or exegetical tool, illuminate the text (in the sense of adorning, illustrating, and casting light upon it), as well as provide a commentary upon the religious and theological values of the producer, percipient, and social and cultural context of the artwork. Conversely, the study of biblical texts can illuminate the artwork, helping to establish, for example, its iconographical and narrative significance, and didactic, liturgical, and devotional intent and function.

With this in mind, this interdisciplinary symposium makes use of existing methodologies in the disciplines of the History of Art and Visual Culture and Biblical Studies and explores new approaches that encourage the systematic investigation of visual expressions of biblical subject matter. The symposium is structured around paintings held at the internationally renowned Manchester City Art Gallery.


Professor John Harvey is Director of the Centre for Studies in the Visual Culture of Religion at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He is an historian of art and visual culture and a theorist through art practice.

Dr. Martin O’Kane is Director of the Centre for the Bible and the Visual Imagination at the University of Wales, Lampeter, and lectures in Biblical Studies.

Professor Cheryl Exum is Professor of Biblical Studies at Sheffield University, and has a particular interest in the interpretation of biblical characters in painting.

Professor David Jasper is Professor in Literature and Theology at Glasgow University. His research areas include interdisciplinary approaches relating to the Bible and the visual arts.

Salley Vickers is a well-known contemporary author whose novels include Miss Garnet’s Angel and The Other Side of You. She is particularly drawn to the power of the biblical narrative and its depiction by artists (evident in many of the storylines running through her novels). Formerly a lecturer in English Literature, she is also an analytical psychologist and lectures widely on the connections between literature, psychology, and religion.

The Shadow & the Real Programme