Bearable Mystery of Anticipated Birth
1 – 25 December 2013
Liverpool Hope Chapel, Liverpool Hope University,
Hope Park, L16 9JD

Year after year, Christians gather around the Advent wreath bringing their longings for Emmanuel, the God-is-with-us, praying to be prepared for the coming again of the Messiah, testifying to the faithfulness of God through the years, and bearing the sorrows of the present cross so as to share in its triumph. This communal rite is a pro-active anticipation of Christmas being awaited in Advent.

This year, Liverpool Hope University Chaplaincy through Fr. Stephen Pritchard, Associate Dean (Hope Residential Life and Chaplaincy) has commissioned the priest and artist Jason Dy, SJ to make the Advent Wreath at Hope Chapel.


Up is Down, Down is Up 
5 January – 2 February 2014
St. Margaret’s Church, Princes Road, 
Liverpool, L8 1TG 

The Mission in the Economy (MitE), chaplaincy providers in North West, UK, together with the Parish Church of St. Margaret of Antioch, an Anglican church built in the mid-19th Century, collaborates with Filipino Jesuit Priest and Contemporary Christian Artist in the site specific installation work entitled “Up is Down, Down is Up.” This work is set up in the former chancel (choir) area of the newly refurbished church of St. Margaret’s acting as an alternative chandelier with its seven 40-42 watts LED clear bulbs.

This installation is part of “The Real Christmas,” an annual participative Christmas appeal for prayer intentions during the Advent as well as Christmas season that culminates in an ecumenical prayer service and thanksgiving dubbed as “Prayers of the City,” organized by the Liverpool City Centre Chaplaincy.

Witnessing the participants of this bidding prayer appeal writing their personal desires on Christmas tree décor paper tags and hanging them on the barren branches of some winter tree, Dy was inspired to create a three-layered work exploring the paradox of divine revelation, incorporating an innocence of child’s play, and offering a communion in secular urban space.

The upside-down Christmas tree formation of suspended colored, glittering, and hand-made prayer tags proposes a different view of beholding its mystery, perhaps as G.K. Chesterton suggests of viewing it by “standing on one’s head.” According to Horacio de la Costa, SJ in his homily:

“Chesterton said it for us all: the only way to view Christmas properly is to stand on one’s head. Was there ever a home more topsy-turvy than Christmas, the cave where Christ was born? For here, suddenly, in the very heart of earth, is heaven; down is up, and up is down; the angels look down on the God who made them, and God looks up to the things he made.”

The over-all installation is reminiscent of the popular children’s game pabitin (literally, suspended, for grabs) as known in Dy’s local Filipino culture. Toys, candies and other goodies are strung suspended on bamboo lattice for children to freely grab.  Could this allude to human desires suspended on faith (as represented by nylon threads bearing its light weight) or divine providence buoying them up (as suggested by the aroma of incense rising from the earthen clay pot)? Or just really a child’s innocent try to either enjoy the play or continue the plea?
However ephemeral and industrial the materials employed by Dy, it is worth discovering the “linking element, principle of agglutination” in his installation as suggested by Nicolas Bourriaud beyond the artist’s usage of this kind of material form.

Viewing by appointment. For walk-ins, the church is open on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: from 9:30 AM to 10:00 AM Sunday: from 9:30 PM to 11:30 AM

Photographs taken by Rafael Cammayo


40-day Durational and Autobiographical Documentation/Performative Art Project 
5 March - 17 April 2014
Jesuit Presbytery, St. Francis Xavier's Church
Salisbury St., Liverpool L3 8DR

As the Lenten observance commenced with Ash Wednesday, whereby the Christian faithful queue to be imposed with ashes and are reminded of their mortality and frailty as well as the paschal mystery and divine mercy, Jason Dy, SJ, in his new art initiative entitledForty, continues his interest art and religion interface. In his attempt in exploring their common ground, Dy engages the Christian traditions with various communities in his creative practice as an artist and employs site-specific art collaborations in his pastoral ministry as a priest.
As the title of the exhibition suggests, forty is the number of days of Dy’s exploration into a more solitary pilgrimage of Lent. This durational and autobiographical documentation/perfomative art initiative, though created within the confines on the pages of a square sketchbook, is not a deviation of the artist’s usual way of informing his art practice through collaborative art in public spaces. It is more of a subtle performance of the everyday engagement with people, events, places and objects with his intent of searching for the sublime, either in its grand and/or terrible manifestations, in Rudolf Otto’s sense of mysteriumtremendum, in the mundane. But is this possible?

Not for sure, but Dy insists that at the end of the day, distilling residuals of these encounters (whatever form they may take e.g. a prayer, an insight, a found object, a feeling, an aura, a dialogue, etc.) are documented in mixed media drawings regarded as daily journal entries. For him, these entries attempt to document the steps/missteps of the pilgrim on the road as he pays close attention to the inner stirrings of his person triggered by the ineffable presence (or its nonpresence). As a religious, it is a spiritual journey into the desert with his God. It is one of seeking the “wounded beauty that saves” as Fyodor Dosteovsky suggests in The Idiot.

These documents and processes maybe Dy’s “itinerary more than a map” (Miwon Kwon, 2002, 29) as henavigates into the road to Calvary, cross and an empty tomb. It could also be a sort of anticipation of the dawn of Easter Sunday.

Some of the images may be posted on-line in Dy’s social network but most of it will be mainly bounded on the pages of the sketchbook kept in private (but awaiting for an opportune time for public display). 


Breakfast By The Lake
Two Sites Specific Installation

Site 1
St. Francis Xavier's Church
Salisbury St., Liverpool L3 8DR
19-20 April 2014

Site 2
Two Painted Wrought Iron Stands, Bisque Fired Clay on Aluminum Rod, Charcoal, Coal, Pebbles, Found Objects, Grass on Polypropylene Woven Floor Mat
Hope Park, Liverpool L16 9JD

Most Easter gardens in churches have always been depicted as an open cave with a rock rolled on the side or an empty cross drape with white cloth. These depictions allude to the account of the first witnesses of an empty tomb and the incidents surrounding the first eastern morn as recorded in the Bible and as passed on in the Christian tradition.

In his recent simultaneous art installations at St. Francis Xavier’s Church and Liverpool Hope University Chapel, Jason Dy, SJ proposes another view of an Easter garden from Johannine post-resurrection account (21:1-25) of Jesus’ apparition to his disciples in the Lake of Gennesaret (or Lake Tiberias).

Jutting out from the circular lump of charcoal, a pair of painted welded iron bears the suspended bisque dried clay fish (inscribed with texts either from direct quotation of John’s Gospel or paraphrased dialogue of Peter and Jesus). The graduated colors of black, red, yellow and gold suggest the transformation of life’s dark despairing to illuminating joy—reflecting Christ’s triumph over death.  The Zen-like lake-scape of pebbles, found objects and lakeside grass provided a backdrop for a poignant scene of disciples fishing in vain at night, of hauling a net full of fish at the suggestion of unrecognized Risen Lord at dawn, of Jesus preparing breakfast consisting of charcoal grilled fish and bread in the morning, and of Peter being questioned three times on his love for the Christ whom he denied thrice.

In a way, Dy presents in his installation an essay on negation and faith-conviction as well as site and interaction. Like Paul Thek, Dy has been engaging the church’s religious rituals as a site for his installation works. This Easter garden completes his engagement with the Christian liturgical seasons from Advent, Christmas to Lent.  He invites the viewers to take a walk around and enter into the tableau of apparition, communion and mission.

Though his installation negates from the conventional Easter garden, he nonetheless keeps the faith-conviction of narrative of the resurrection offering the Christian theme of ineffable love that overcomes the evil of the cross and the curse of death.

In another sense, Dy seems to highlight the idea of food for spiritual nourishment. Woven palm fronds shaped like hearts have provided another layer of meaning. This additional element reconnects him to his local tradition of woven puso as container of cooked rice as staple side dish with the grilled fish. Here, he taps into the theological insight of artist and theologian Masao Takenaka that God as rice, as bread in the western world, in Japanese culture. As for Korean poet Kim Chi-ha:

Heaven is rice,
When we eat and swallow rice,
Heaven dwells in our body.

Indeed, Dy offers a food for thought and of soul in this Easter season especially for the parishioners of SFX Church and participants of the Association for Catholic Institutes for the Study of Education (ACISE) at Liverpool Hope University.

First two photographs taken by Rafael Cammayo

O R D I N A R Y  T I M E

Flores de Mayo
These site-specific installations are created during the engagement with the Santacruzan organised by the Filipino communities in Ipswich, Norwich and Merseyside Area (Liverpool, Whiston and Fasakerley).

St. Luke’s Church (The Bombed Out Church)
Leece Street, Liverpool, Merseyside L1 2TR
31 May – 21 June 2014

Our Lady and St. Walstan's Catholic Church
Costessey, Norwich, Norfolk NR8 5AA
24 May 2014

St Pancras Catholic Church
1 Orwell Place, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 1BD
25 May 2014

In the Philippines the month of May is dedicated to commemorating Marian devotion known as Flores De Mayo.

Several Filipino communities in Merseyside (Liverpool, Fasakerley and Whiston), Norwich and Ipswich recently held their respective Flores De Mayo activities. These programs varied from communal recitation of the rosary, the Eucharistic celebration in honour of Mary to the traditional procession of the Santacruzan.
Philippine artist Jason Dy, SJ participated in the respective Flores De Mayo activities with these various Filipino communities in the UK. As a priest, he led them in prayer and devotion by presiding at their religious rites. As an artist, he collaborated with them in filling up barren spaces with potted plant blooms.

Site-specific interventions have revived lost spaces, one of which was the backyard at Our Lady and St. Walstan’s Church. This forgotten space cleared of grass and adorned with a tree and derelict plaster statue became a promising flower garden. On another site, colourful blossoms placed on the mound of the century-old wooden crucifix contrasted with a grey concrete ground at St. Pancras’ Church.

Initially, at St. Luke’s (also known as the bombed out church), a corner was filled with a cluster of bamboo canes with synthetic sunflowers comprising complete beads of the rosary used during prayer services Flores De Mayo activity held last May 31.

Inspired by these engagements on how his compatriots practiced their Filipino religious culture in UK, Dy conceptualized a participative art installation project by filling the whole nave-garden of the church with bamboo canes and synthetic sunflowers. He pounded more than 200 pieces of 90-cm bamboo canes on the ground and uniformly lined them up in interspersed rows. Visitors were requested to insert the flowers at the tip of the thin poles and invited to make a wish, say a prayer or offer them to/for somebody.

This art project is Dy’s attempt of synthesizing his engagement with the local Filipino communities he met here in UK.  For him, continuing these homegrown popular devotions in foreign land signified a longing of some Filipinos to root themselves in their inherited religious traditions as well as their attempt to transplant these in a new context for succeeding generations to value. This project is an art intervention articulating Filipinos uprooting experience, transplanting and blossoming both as a community and as a church.

The visitors are invited to walk around the field of assembled sunflower plants, to ponder on local traditions such as Flores de Mayo being continued abroad, and to consider the interplay between religion and culture within in popular devotions.

Special Thanks to:

Ambrose Reynolds, Friends of the Bombed Out Church, Filipino Communities in Ipswich, Norwich, Merseyside area (Liverpool, Whiston, Fasakerley and Blackpool), UK and Philippine Jesuit Provinces, St. Francis Xavier’s Church, Art in Liverpool, Faculty and Staff of Liverpool Hope University Fine and Applied Arts Department, MA in Creative Practice 2013-14 Colleagues, Independents Liverpool Biennial, Circuit Studios