The Church of the Martyrs dates back to 1890, which means this year they are celebrating their 125th anniversary. We missed the centenary as we weren’t yet going there: in fact, this time in 1990 Mark and I had not known each other long and I had started teaching in Spain. Makes you think…
The exhibition is gathered from photos people have sent in from their own collections. They range from very recent to the 1920’s as far as I could see. There were, naturally enough, lots of weddings. Many people who still come to the Martyrs grew up in the area and had parents who married in the church: Gwyneth, possibly the longest-serving member, loaned a photo of her parents standing, as Chaucer had it, ‘at churche doore’ *. There were a lot of corporate events, too, such as Guides, Brownies and Tomatoes – and as you go in you are assailed by Gail shrieking and covered in paint at Soul Survivor. There were church holidays, picnics and days out – and also articles from the Mercury when the church had figured in the local news.
And it all made me think about what we take photos of. Which events do we want to record? There were weddings and baptisms, but no funerals. It hadn’t occurred to me until now, that no-one takes a photo of a funeral. But why not?
Well, obviously because it’s a sad occasion. It’s not something you want to remember. But perhaps there’s something more personal in the kind of remembering a funeral entails; with each person recalling how the deceased impacted on their own lives. Plus, the funeral is in itself a remembering; a memorial.
Loads of people were there who I haven’t seen for ages, and still more on the Sunday, though I couldn’t make it then. There was a video message from Rob Freeman, who was apparently on another planet (he’s a bishop now, though anyone less Bishop-y could hardly be imagined; he’s quite like Rev, in a way – small, weedy and unassuming. Hard to picture him in the House of Lords…) Also Brian Robertson was there – Brian went on to be vicar of St Peter’s in Oadby, where my parents went. So it’s a shame I missed seeing him and Viv.
Such exhibitions are a heartwarming antidote to the modern trend of taking selfies. I don’t like selfies: to me they smack of individualism and a lack of communal experience. Why do people take so many selfies? Is it the modern equivalent of writing ‘Liz woz ‘ere’ – like people used to do in my youth?
Maybe. But I never did write ‘Liz woz ‘ere’ on a wall. And I’ve never taken a selfie.
Anyway, it was an interesting exhibition and kudos to Tony for putting it together.
*not that I’m suggesting Gwyneth’s parents go back to the Middle Ages!