Sky Arts
6 x 55 minutes
August 2019
Download and streaming only

Art of Faith complete series

Art of Faith complete series contains volumes I and II of Art of Faith. Volume I includes three films on the architecture and art of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, with volume II exploring the architecture and art of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Religions of the Tao.

Art of Faith complete series is a sumptuous high-definition visual experience presented and narrated by the broadcaster John McCarthy who travels the world visiting the greatest and most significant religious buildings, exploring how the passions and complexities of religious beliefs have been expressed in architecture. Broadcast by Sky Arts and looking back over the last 3000 years, the series provides an insight into how we have celebrated art through faith. With contributions from architects, scholars and worshippers, the films explain the buildings’ genesis, laying down the brush strokes of the sites’ design, whilst looking at the shared elements and contrasts between religions and the aesthetics of the places of worship.

Art of Faith complete series is only available as a digital download and for streaming.

Art of Faith I

Judaism visits one of the earliest synagogues on the mountain fort of Masada, the Gothic Old-New Synagogue in Prague and nineteenth-century houses of worship in Budapest, Liverpool and New York, as well as Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece Beth Sholom near Philadelphia. The earliest identifiable synagogue buildings date only from around 70 CE when the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem. In the centuries since Jews have built synagogues – shuls in Yiddish – right across the Old World and the New, almost always employing variations of a singular layout but displaying an extraordinary eclecticism in decoration and detail.

Christianity locations include Saint Catherine’s monastery at the foot of Mt Sinai, San Vitale in Ravenna, the cathedrals of Durham and Chartres, St Peter’s Basilica, and the beautiful chapel decorated by Henri Matisse in Vence, France. More than mosques and synagogues, Christian places for praise and devotion have been created in every conceivable size and shape. And often their form is a function both of the historical moment when they were first built and of the particular beliefs of those who worship within them.

Islam explores the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, mosques in Kairouan and Cordoba, both the Haghia Sophia church and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the Taj Mahal at Agra and the madrassas of Samarkand. Millions of Muslims around the world glorify Allah when they pray five times every day. But for their obligatory prayers, although they must have clean clothes and a clean body, and to face towards Mecca, Muslims do not need a mosque. Prayer may be offered alone. Yet for nearly fifteen hundred years Muslims have built mosques both modest and grand.

Art of Faith II

Buddhism offers an introduction to the religion, a family of beliefs derived from the teachings of Buddha who died around 400 BCE. The emperor Ashoka Maurya (who r.272-231BC) was responsible for the first large-scale stone art in India and he also redistributed the Buddha’s relics among (supposedly) 84,000 simple stupas (or solid memorial mounds containing relics) across his empire. It is from this act that Buddhist architecture and art springs. Buddhism looks at the architecture ranging across England, India, Indonesia, China, and Japan.

Hinduism looks at the complex stories of its many deities and the architecture of this religion serves as an excellent place to understand the meanings of the major gods and their myths. Often spectacular, compelling in their details, exquisite and sometimes strikingly erotic and sensual, Hinduism includes numerous locations in its exploration of the art and architecture of the Asian religions, beginning in India with the colourful erotic carvings at the vibrant Meenakshi temple. 

Religions of the Tao examines the traditions of Taoism that include Shinto, Confucianism, and Chinese folk religion, which focus on the Tao, the origin and law of all things in the universe. These religions and philosophies are less well known in the West in comparison to Buddhism and Hinduism and by exploring these places of worship, Religions of the Tao teases the similarities and differences, going so far as to explore the very boundaries of what a religion actually is. History and meaning are explored via the sites in multiple locations in China and Japan.




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