Programme Rhythm

SAW’s programme of exhibitions and events is expansive, and always goes beyond simply displaying artworks. Our programme seeks to embody our commitment to explore all aspects of Art, Community Activism and Hospitality as important forms of enquiry and art practice.

We are committed to using art as a means of enquiry – this enquiry is two fold; we encourage enquiry into art itself as a useful and rich activity, but we also affirm the use of art as a tool and means of enquiry into the world. Art has the power to ask questions, formulate ideas and point to the joy, complexity and brokenness in the world. Art enquires in a unique way, asking questions in subtle, humorous and confrontational ways. It can be a tool for self-expression, or a means of mass protest. Art is a unique and universal human expression, and at SAW we believe this becomes richer when matched with the human gifts of discernment and investigation. This does not mean we believe art for art’s sake is without merit, rather that we have determined the importance of placing art and enquiry together as partners, and that the richness of discussing art, and its connection to all of life, including community, politics and theology, should be of equal standing to the artwork itself.

Below are details of our yearly programme rhythm, which gives an idea of what you can expect from SAW’s programme throughout the year. As part of this, we also have a commitment to Rest & Rhythm, which is an acceptance that we should not continually produce exhibitions and events for production’s sake, but rather focus on quality. This means we have periods in the year when the building is closed to visitors, to allow the team to focus on the next exhibition.

Our programme Rhythm

Feb – Mar: ‘Take Over’ – showcasing artwork by talented emerging artists; each artist invites you to look at, experience and discuss their work. Part of SAW’s commitment to support artists through open call opportunities. Click here to find out more.

May – June & Sept – Nov: Exhibitions and accompanying events which respond to issues affecting people’s lives both locally and nationally. Previously we’ve explored the housing crisis, hospitality and sustainable food production. Look out for separate flyers and information on our website to see what this year will hold.

July: Annual summer exhibition showing artwork produced by our brilliant Painting For Fun group. Sold paintings help raise funds for the group’s materials.

Sept/Oct: Each year we celebrate the produce grown in our garden with a Harvest Festival gathering and feast.

Dec: Activities and community get-togethers that celebrate the Christmas story. 

Throughout the year:  PROCESS – Outdoor gallery consisting of seven large-scale posters which compliment our current programme.

Most parts of our programme embody more than one of these aspects, playing on the intersection of contemporary art, theological reflection and community activism. However we have divided the programme elements below into the categories they most strongly embody.  


OPENINGS – Most of our exhibitions open with a Bring & Share meal/picnic. We want this to be a real celebration of both the art and artist and so have moved away from the often alienating wine and chat previews.

DISCUSSIONS – For each exhibition or project at SAW we host a discussion evening which always includes sharing food together. These are developed in collaboration with each artist and take a personal format, encouraging artists to think about how they talk about their work in a more holistic way. These events are always informal, and allow participants to explore exhibitions more deeply. We encourage participants to engage in these events by bringing their own questions, knowledge and viewpoints. We very much discourage any sort of divide between artists and audience, and seek to make SAW a non-hierarchical space that encourages enquiry into different ideas and viewpoints.

HARVEST FESTIVAL – Our yearly Shieldfield Harvest Festival collaborating with our local friends to celebrate the local community flourishing.  

Art and Enquiry

EXHIBITIONS – We use art as a mode of enquiry to explore all of life, including different viewpoints of theology, church practice, society and politics. Part of our enquiry includes written text within an exhibition context in the form of labelling, exhibition interpretation and publications. Another part of our enquiry is through conversation, making and action at programmed events. 

SAW REFLECTSEvents at SAW where we gather to reflect and discuss, either on our exhibition programme or the wider world. It’s a relaxed space for a bit of creative nourishment, space to think and ‘be’. When looking at a particular artwork we consider how the work and its themes relate to ourselves, our world and our beliefs. Through informal conversation with the artists involved and with each other, we explore the works on a deeper level in a way that can benefit both the audience and the artist in understanding what has been created, the thinking behind it and how it fits within our worldviews.

BLOG – We think that it is important to listen to and engage in the conversations happening in contemporary culture as well as thinking through every aspect of life. Therefore, we write blogposts to respond to contemporary and local issues.

LIBRARY – A growing collection of writing on the theoretical, theological and historical grounding to our work. A comfy area of learning for all visitors to SAW.

Community Activism

PAINTING FOR FUN  – Every Tuesday morning and afternoon, Shieldfield Art Works hosts free oil painting sessions for anyone – whether you have painted before or not!  The sessions are free and all materials are provided. Just come prepared (in old clothes) to have lots of fun! The sessions run every Tuesday 10.00am – 12 noon & 2.00-4.00pm. Click here to see more about Painting for Fun.

SHIELDFIELD GROWS – A programme of activity that seeks to promote sustainable food production, fair land usage and community flourishing. Shieldfield Grows enables people to grow vegetables, fruit and herbs in their homes, on balconies, gardens and allotments. Together we are also developing part of SAW’s garden as a space for growing. This is a collaboration between Dwellbeing Shieldfield and Shieldfield Art Works.

CRAFT ACTION COLLECTIVE Craft Action Collective seeks to think deeply and respond to injustices in a gentle, careful way through craft and printmaking. With courage and care we talk, discuss and make together. It’s quiet activism for everyone, including introverts, where we’ll focus on actions of solidarity.