God of Hope launch draws crowds

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Rose Marie Radley with artist Andy Collis beside her portrait on display on Level 4 of the San hospital.

Sydney Adventist Hospital’s Tulloch conference room was packed on Thursday night, December 12, for the launch of art exhibition “God of Hope”.

Crowds gathered in anticipation to witness a culmination of more than three years of vision-casting and planning, coordinated by artist and graphic designer Shelley Poole, and made possible by a collaboration between the San, South Pacific Division (SPD) and Adventist Media.

Guests enjoyed a healthy dinner provided by Life Health Foods and Sanitarium Health Food Company before hearing speeches from Adventist HealthCare CEO Brett Goods, Adventist Media CEO Dr Brad Kemp and Adventist HealthCare director of Mission and Culture Dr Branimir Schubert, among many others.

A 28-minute documentary produced by Adventist Media entitled “God of Hope” was premiered on the night, which followed the artistic practice of three photographers featured in the exhibition: James Bennett, Heath Bennett and Felicity Thomson.

“I was really encouraged by the response of the audience,” said God of Hope coordinator Shelley Poole. “They were really warmly embracing it. This is a very innovative thing for the Adventist church.”

God of Hope documentary producer Mariana Venturi believes the film truly encapsulates the concept of hope. Having interviewed people from diverse contexts, she was inspired by their true stories.

“I will never forget the powerful, peaceful beauty of Denise Murray’s words as she shared and prayed with us in the studio. I’ll also never forget the warm smiles, simplicity and joyful heart of the Tongan people as they sing through their difficulties, praising God with authentic gratitude for life,” she said.

After the documentary premiere, groups enjoyed a guided art tour around the hospital and were able to meet some of the artists and people featured in the artworks. Guests also took with them postcards, maps and printed materials to remember the experience.

Dr Schubert, who was involved in bringing the exhibition to the San, was encouraged by the positive response.

“It’s early days, but we’ve already had many positive reactions to what is on display. Some like the art, others are challenged by it, but it’s designed to generate thinking and reflection.”

With more than 14 artworks featured, the exhibition is designed to bring hope to patients, guests and staff that walk through the hospital’s doors.

“Being at the SAH is a very unique context, a lot of people are going through difficult circumstances,” said Mrs Poole. “We’ve tried to grapple with the question of how a loving God can allow suffering, [in a way] that genuinely gives you a sense of hope.”

“To trust God—no matter what—is my take-home message from the [documentary],” said Mrs Venturi. “Karen Muirhead summarises it [in the film] so well when she says, ‘Living without hope is worse than dying.'”

You can view the exhibition in person by visiting Sydney Adventist Hospital in Wahroonga (Sydney). The full documentary is also available at godofhope.org.au.