HABEUS CORPUS BY Elizabeth Kwant
Howard Barlow - COMMON GROUND


PassionArt is pleased to be working with the Centre for Theology and Justice and graphic artist Micah Purnell to curate an arts initiative that explores the role the arts are playing in issues of social justice within our cities and communities and to explore how the arts enable engagement in theological reflection on issues of justice. The project aims to enable artists who are actively engaging in practical justice issues to reflect theologically on what they are doing and why and to broaden the understanding of theologians & the Church of how the arts are being used to re-imagine mission through listening and communicating compassion and forgiveness to the most vulnerable; enabling our cities to reflect on and engage with justice themes by the retelling of stories to relate meaningfully to the lives of its inhabitants through music, film, literature, drama, dance, art and it’s galleries, museums libraries and theatres. As the project is growing we are launching a new initiative called A BELONGING PROJECT that is partnering with Manchester Cathedral, St Anns Church and Methodist Central Hall. For more information click on the link above.

We are hosting a series of art exhibitions with our partners over the next 3 years that explore issues of social justice through our chosen theme of Belonging. To learn more visit our exhibition’s website  During 2019 we hosted three exhibitions, Habeus Corpus by artist Elizabeth Kwant was on display at Manchester Cathedral during July and August exploring the theme of asylum and displacement. Micah Purnell, one of the project leaders displayed Status Cages, an installation at St Anns Church throughout the summer that critiques the lie that to belong we need to consume. And press photographer Howard Barlow  exhibited Common Ground, a new exhibition featuring a large selection of his work taken over 40 years of working and living in Manchester, inviting the viewer to observe the social, political and cultural changes in the city and how identity and a sense of belonging to Manchester has been shaped and grown. This exhibition was on display at St Anns Church throughout October and November.

Our program has been interrupted by Covid 19 but we hope to resume our exhibitions in the Autumn of 2020.

We are commissioning a series of essays by both theologians and those working in the cultural sphere to encourage theological and cultural reflection on various issues of social justice and the role the arts play. Please visit our Resources page to read more.

We are hosting a series of ‘Conversations’ with artists, theologians from all faith backgrounds and those working within the cultural sector. I.e gallery and museum curators, composers, poets, writers etc. These recordings will be made available via Sound Cloud and will discuss creative practice, theological reflection and cultural & religious engagement within towns and cities.

We hosted a series of public evening gatherings with our exhibiting artists in panel conversations with theologians about their work and the ideas behind them. These evenings include music, food, an opportunity to visit the exhibitions and meet the artists whilst engaging in debate and theory. Our first evening took place at St Anns Church in April 2019 exploring the theme of Women and Violence with guests Rosie Dawson speaking on her #SheToo podcasts and singer songwriter Emma Mould who takes her moving songs that confront violence against women into the public bars and clubs of Manchester. The evening culminated in a creative Tenebrae service and a viewing of the exhibition How Did it Get so Dark?

For more information on this project please contact Lesley Sutton – project co-ordinator and curator at or Micah Purnell

….Because I long to belong   

We are using the theme of BELONGING as a way to consider a number of issues related to social justice. (I.e. diversity, gender, poverty, mental health, homelessness, refugees and many more)  To begin our research we would like to invite a number of people from a variety of backgrounds and contexts to tell us what belonging means to them.

Would you consider contributing your thoughts to our research?

We would like you to write between 300 – 600 words on a personal response or a story explaining what belonging means to you. You might want to use any of the following as a starting point for your writing.

          • Where do you feel you belong? This might be a place, a village, a community, a family, a nation, a faith/religion, a small group of friends, a job, a social grouping, an identity grouping, a social media group, and many more. It may be a number of things or just one or two.
          • What makes you feel you belong? It might be the shared rituals you perform together, the similar clothes you wear, the birth place you share, the ideals you share, the stories you share together, the life that you have experienced together etc.
          • What does belonging feel like? Can you describe the emotions that are associated with this word for you?
          • Do you have any objects that are special to you that signify your sense of belonging? These might be ornaments passed down to you through family, or a piece of jewellery, or an object you use in ritual, a book, a piece of cloth or clothing, anything that holds meaning and memory about your sense of belonging. Perhaps you can tell the story around the objects, or send us a photograph to help tell your story.

Please can you send us an image to accompany your words, it may be of a place, your community or an object, or perhaps an old family photo, but we will need to have copyright permission to use it. If you would like to contribute:

  • Please can you send your text and image by email to as a word document and a jpeg high res image.
  • Please also provide a one sentence short biography of yourself.
  • By agreeing to submit a reflection you are giving permission for PassionArt to publish and use it as a part of the project.
  • Can you visit our website and complete the sentence …..because I long to belong on our web wall? Please encourage your friends to join the conversation too.
  • You may want to visit us on twitter – @ilongtobelong
  • or at our Instagram page ‘becauseilongtobelong’