Hole In My Pocket mark Pope's Scottish visit by starting their own church
Eilidh MacAskill and the Parsonage choir appear at Arches event
Kirstin Innes finds out why Hole In My Pocket have turned the Arches’ café bar into a temple, and what it’s got to do with the Pope.
Inspired by the papal visit, Allistair Burt, more usually known as an architect and the brains behind Glasgow blog Southside Happenings, has just started his own religion.
‘With the Pope being in town, it just seemed like the perfect time,’ says the newly-ordained high priest of HIMPology, whose relatively young faith already has its own church, complete with impressive stained glass window (formerly known as the Arches Café Bar), where Sunday services will be conducted throughout October.
HIMP, as the blessed among you may have already worked out, stands for Hole In My Pocket, the art-ish duo Burt formed with fellow architect Scott Airlie in 2002. They’ve created work sporadically over the past eight years, usually projects that look at the way architecture affects society and social environments, and usually pulled off with the sort of lop-sided and utterly uncynical charm that makes delighted children out of the most serious grown-ups. The Arches faithful may remember that they took over the space before, five years ago, with an interactive exhibition designed to pull people together.
‘We really wanted to do a stained glass window last time we were in the Arches,’ says Burt. ‘This time it just seemed to fit, though – religion is such a divisive subject, especially just now, and a lot of our projects have been about things that either draw us together or pull us apart. Once we’d realised we wanted to look at that, we needed to create the environment. The key thing with churches is the way they use light to focus the worshippers – at the Arches you’ve got that huge shaft of light, which we’ve covered in coloured acetate so it draws the light in, makes you notice it. A lot of religions use stained glass, so we tried to be as non-denominational as possible in our design. Then, of course, we stuck a great big red H in the middle of it …’
So, what is HIMPology? According to its guru-in-chief, it’s ‘a celebration of creation, not creationism, and creativity, not deities. We’re basically stealing all the best bits from other religions – all the bits where you come together in one place, as a congregation, and discuss ideas. Our generation have grown up largely without religion, and I think we’ve missed out on that.’
Hence the Sunday Services of HIMPology, which will be presided over by performer/pastor Gary McNair, and at which people working in Glasgow’s creative industries will give five-minute sermons on aspects of their work, or things which inspire them. Like your average service, there will also be readings (of articles and passages from books that have inspired the readers) and music. Artists Kieran Hurley and Gregor Wright are among the preachers; Eilidh MacAskill and the Parsonage choir are among those leading the congregation in secular singing.
‘When people come in, all the seats will be arranged into pews and aisles; there will be organ music playing, and three communal songs each week,’ says Burt. ‘No hymns, though: we’ll sing karaoke hits. Wee bit of Frank Sinatra. Then we’ll all have tea and scones.’
HIMP Sunday Services: Arches, Glasgow, Sun 3 & 10 Oct, 1–2.30pm, free, www.holeinmypocket.com