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Pilgrims and Pilgrimages

Sunset Sermonette  (2018) by Emil Lillo

Sunset Sermonette (2018) by Emil Lillo

Last weekend, i took part in a one-day conference in Govan Old Church with the title Pilgrims and Pilgrimages: Sights and Sounds of the Sacred. The conference was arranged to start off an exhibition with entries from artists, poets, musicians and theologians. I heard about the conference via email and was immediately drawn to the topic as I went on a pilgrimage myself back in 2016. Since then, I have been very fascinated with why people choose to go and how journeys of searching influences us. The week before I read an article recommended by a friend about a musician, Dane Johansen, walking Camino de Santiago with his cello, playing concerts along the way documented by a film crew. 

The first part of the conference was a talk by Ian Bradley on Pilgrimage and the Celtic Tradition, explaining how humans have a tendency to be wanderers and restless with no real aim. He believes this is why people are attracted to pilgrimages, more so in modern times, where the difference between analogue and digital connections have become clearer. Through this difference, more people seek an active involvement in their faith rather than a passive, which is why in places like Scandinavia, church participation has rapidly decreased, whereas pilgrimages rapidly increased. He highlights how people, such as Dane Johansen, have different aims for pilgrimages, ranging from religion to spirituality and creative purposes, all rooting in human restlessness. 

Many of the experiences mentioned in the article, lecture and portrayed in the exhibition resonate with my own experience in Spain. Many of the realisations, limitations and influences played such an important role in my experience and I want to explore this further. How do different people experience a pilgrimage differently? What is their focus? How can you document this in the best way and share it with others? I hope to some day venture out on another pilgrimage, this time with loads of questions and a sketchbook in my backpack, to document my journey and others'.