Sheffield minister creates clay men to illustrate Lent

A clay man created by Richard Stott The 40 clay men were placed around the Sheffield area for 40 days and nights

A Methodist minister from Sheffield sculpted 40 small clay men as part of an exhibition to explore the idea of the wilderness in the modern world.

The Reverend Richard Stott, who works as an artist and art psychotherapist, then hid the clay men around the Sheffield area.

They were left out in the wild for 40 days and 40 nights for people to find.

Mr Stott chose not to fire the clay so that the figurines would be susceptible to the elements.

The project was a modern representation of the Temptation of Christ, when Jesus fasted in the desert.

Mr Stott said the theme of wilderness was not just part of the Christian story, but was a part of every human experience.

"I suppose for me it is something about the fragility of human existence, exploring what the world does to us, how it damages and changes us and makes us an individual," he said.

'Intensely spiritual'

During the experiment, most of the figurines disappeared completely, others came back missing various parts or were worn away. Only two survived completely intact.

One spent 40 days and 40 nights in a church and remained completely unchanged.

Mr Stott was a circuit minister for six years and now works for the Sheffield District of the Methodist Church exploring creative arts and spirituality. He says art and spirituality are closely connected.

"The process of art making is such an intensely spiritual experience. Almost any artist, whatever faith, or whether they would say they have got a faith or not, they would say it is some sort of spiritual experience," he said.

The Wilderness Exhibition runs until Good Friday at the Wesley Hall Methodist Church in Sheffield.

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