Media Centre

Church of England launch guide to commissioning new art for churches

The Church Buildings Council of the Church of England will launch their Guide on Commissioning New Art for Churches today (Wednesday, October 19, 2011) at St Stephen Walbrook, London (EC4N 8BN), to encourage parishes to embark on the adventure of commissioning new art for their churches.

Much of the information in the guide is aimed at parishes, but it will also provide an insight for artists and other interested parties. It is not only promoting the Bishop of Guildford in Festal Copecommissioning of artwork such as painting, stained glass or sculpture, but also wants parishes to consider other options such as kneelers, processional crosses or vestments. 

The guide, richly illustrated with examples of recent commissions throughout England, has been developed through consultation with a working group chaired by artist Mark Cazalet.  It includes details on what parishes should consider, how to write briefs and commission and choose artists as well as the legal framework.  This is the first time that the Church of England has produced a guide of this type and it hopes that this will make parishes realise that commissioning artwork - both permanent and temporary - can be very straightforward.

To complement the launch of this innovative guide, the Church Buildings Council is delighted that the Jerusalem Trust has agreed to donate a prize for £10,000 to be awarded to the parish that makes the best case for commissioning a new artwork applying the guidelines.

Anne Sloman, Chair of the Church Buildings Council, said, "The Church has always been a significant Patron of the Arts in this country and we are determined that this tradition continues into the 21st Century. The Guidelines are intended to help our 16,000 parishes with this process. We are very grateful to the Jerusalem Trust for the Prize which will encourage parishioners to use the guidelines creatively to work with artists to achieve a distinctive legacy."

Mark Cazalet, Chair of the Working Group, commented, "The launch of Commissioning New Art for Parishes is an exciting and overdue initiative from The Church Building Council; it sets out clear, concise guidelines for getting the most out of the commissioning process, and ensuring the best results. The advice it contains was gathered from key figures at all levels and backgrounds in the field, representing the experience of: artists, commissioners, funders, Diocesan Advisory Committees, diocesan chancellors, clergy and parishes.  It aims to be the comprehensive single document for all those starting out on commissioning a new art work for a parish church.

Great Malvern PrioryBishop of Chelmsford Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell noted: "The word that was made flesh in Christ has also down the ages been made paint and stone. On canvas and cardboard and marble and glass, artists have delighted and disturbed us with their own interpretations of the Christian story. The tradition of commissioning art for the church is as important today as it ever was; not just for telling the story of Christian faith, and not just for adorning Christian worship and buildings, but for celebrating the endlessly inventive splendor of God. For it is in the image of this creative God that we are made, and it is when we turn our minds - and hands! - to beauty, as well as truth and goodness, that we most reflect this gracious God."

The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London and Chairman of the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division, also commented: "The unfolding drama whose author is God seeks artistic expression in every generation. The Church needs to engage with contemporary artists in order to explore afresh the forms which divine truth should be taking in the here and now.'


For further information and to download a copy of the guide, please visit


Notes The Church Buildings Council of the Church of England is a statutory body, which in 2008 replaced the Council for the Care of Churches. In addition to its advisory role to Chancellors and Diocesan Advisory Committees (DACs) under the operation of the faculty system the Council has a general duty "to promote the care and conservation of churches and greater knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of and artistic activity relating to churches both within the Church of England and more widely among the general public". A great deal of its work, both in terms of casework and wider policy initiatives, relates to the preservation of our remarkable heritage of 12,500 listed buildings. But they are also determined that the legacy that we leave to future generations is as worthy as that we have inherited.

The Jerusalem Trust was established in 1982 by Sir Timothy and Lady Sainsbury to "promote the Christian religion". It funds a range of projects, including those in the media, overseas (in Africa and Central and Eastern Europe), in education, in evangelism and mission and in the arts. Its recent funding in the Art category has included grants towards the Hew Locke work in St Mary & St Eanswythe Church for the Folkestone Triennial 2011, the Cross by Stephen Cox for St Anselm's Chapel in Canterbury Cathedral, a mural by Alison Watt in Old St Paul's Church in Edinburgh and the font by William Pye in Salisbury Cathedral, as well as support for organisations promoting Christian art.


  • Five Festal Copes for Guildford Cathedral's 50th Anniversary 2011. Polly Meynell Ecclesiastical Textile Artist 
  • Easterly Millennium Window, Great Malvern Priory, Worcester. Tom Denny, Painter and Stained Glass Artist

Daily Digest