Outdoor sketching group encourages members to explore faith more deeply

21st May 2024

Every week in Collett Park, at the heart of Shepton Mallet a community gathers to connect with nature and express their creativity through drawing. Drawing On is an outdoor sketching group initiated and led by Gill Sakakini, Pioneer Priest for the Arts. What started as a casual activity with a friend in January 2022, has blossomed into a regular event, with more than 45 signed up and a consistent group of more than twenty individuals meeting in the park each week to join Gill in drawing and sketching. “We gather and I give a drawing brief, then we go off and draw for about 40 minutes in silence. We try to look and engage; open up our imaginations and see what all around us. For some that has a spiritual aspect to it, the beauty of Creation, for others it has encouraged them to see more contemplatively and the way they draw reflects that.”

Gill will often encourages the group to reflect as they draw. She will print a line from a psalm or a spiritual reflection. She gives these to group members to take with them and think about during the drawing session. “I say if this is helpful for you as you are drawing today do you consider that. I also notice that every time I do it the drawing is qualitatively different. Certainly, the invitation for people to go deeper, to think that there might be something more is very inspiring for people.”

Additionally, Gill, through Drawing On, now works with Shepton Mallet Health Connectors which links with doctors’ surgeries to connect people to local community services and groups that can help to support their mental and physical health. A number of people have been referred via this route to the group.

Engaging with people through Drawing On has also served as a way for group members to explore faith more deeply.  Some regularly join Gill for creative vespers, held once a month, in the church on a Sunday. This experience offers them a way to connect with spirituality, one they may not have previously considered. 

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