Clipping the Church

Baked Woman, Tereza Buskova

On Saturday 11 June, Birmingham-based Czech artist Tereza Buskova will revitalise a very old English tradition and bring it back to the city. Working with the local community, she will reinterpret the custom of ‘Clipping the Church’ in an event which will explore motherhood and investigate British identity through its traditions.

Derived from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘clyp-pan’ meaning ‘embrace’ or ‘clasp’, the ceremony is believed to have originated in the 16th Century. Clipping the Church took place once a year when young apprentices and women in service were allowed to visit their families. During the ceremony, the reunited families and local faithful would link hands to form an unbroken chain around the entire church. Facing out towards the world, members of this living circle would often sing hymns as they slowly moved around the symbol of their faith and belonging. Although there is evidence ceremonies took place in Birmingham, it is unknown where.

On 11 June this custom will be recreated with over one hundred locals at St Barnabas’ Church in Erdington. Buskova will explore motherhood through live performance, music and ornate baked goods, which will be paraded and affixed to the church as decorations.

Just a few days before the EU referendum, this event will also invite reflection on how the meaning of ‘community’ has changed from the days when Clipping the Church involved the people of a single village.

Full details and times of the performance can be found here. The finished film Clipping the Church (2016) will be debuted at Eastside Projects at an event exploring ‘Motherhood, maternal and art‘ on Thursday 21 July 2016


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