Deborah Harrison

It's time to make life boats by Deborah Harrison
It's time to make life boats

As the theme of the exhibition at St Stephen's Walbrook, London is 'Vision' I carved this sculpture. It is based an image I received while praying in June 1998. It was a panorama of the sinking Titanic. As I zoomed out of the scene I could see hundreds of people in the water and hear their cries for help. Instead of the wooden life boats there were modern inflatable life boats in the icy water. I was horrified at the sheer scale of those who were drowning and needed help. Then I heard the words, 'It's time to make life boats'.

What does the phrase 'it's time to make life boats' mean? The wikipedia definition of a lifeboat is:'a small, rigid or inflatable boat carried for emergency evacuation of survivors in the event of a disaster on board a ship.' Therefore, the lifeboat is essential for survival, although undignified and temporary.

I believe the Titanic is a metaphor for the mainstream church (i.e. Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, URC): It too, like the Titanic, is believed to be unsinkable. But the harsh reality is that there has been a 41% drop in attendance in the mainstream church from 1980 to 2015 ( and 'Methodism in numbers - statistics at a glance' states that, 'The majority of current members are retirement age'.

The challenge is, are we as Christians applying our limited energy into preparing ourselves for a different shaped church which will be able to survive beyond the organised religion of the large church building: One which is flexible and resilient although less dignified and perhaps smaller in size?

This sculpture also challenges our response to the asylum seekers crisis where thousands are drowning in the Mediteranian Sea trying to enter the west.
Date: 04.09.17

Carrara marble
Dimensions: 40cm x 35cm x 15cm