Wiltshire church ready to welcome On A Wing And A Prayer in the New Year

Our unique multimedia art installation On A Wing And A Prayer is set to take pride of place at St Sampson's Church in Cricklade, Wiltshire for a special Bat Weekend on Jan 14-15. Jane Eyles, parish administrator, explains why the church community is excited to welcome the artwork for a weekend.
Image of On A Wing And A Prayer, an art installation celebrating bats and churches

On a wing and a prayer – I can’t imagine a more perfect name for an art installation dedicated to bats in our churches….

The combination of flying bats and scary organ music is almost a cliché and as the organist at St Sampson’s I’ve certainly spent many solitary hours playing the organ with only bats for company! Those of us who look, spot them occasionally, roosting against the dark wooden ceiling in the choir vestry and in other out of the way nooks and crannies; during the night they flit about unseen in the cavernous space of the church.

I’ve never thought much about bats until my husband Tim and I sat with Ilene and her husband, Phil, in their back garden in the growing darkness of a late summer’s evening this year. Ilene and Phil are great bat enthusiasts and their enthusiasm was catching as we waited for the sound of those elusive little winged creatures to be captured on Phil’s ingenious bat detector which transposes their song by 4 octaves to make it audible to the human ear. It is unexpectedly beautiful, as they call to one another and hunt - and to think we never hear it.

Art installation1

I’ve known Ilene for many years; she is an artist with such creativity and drive and I have watched her turn her hand to all sorts of projects in that time. As she described her latest project for Bats in Churches that evening, I knew I had to see it and ultimately, try to bring it to St Sampson’s - the largest of the churches in the Upper Thames benefice and therefore most suitable for positioning the exhibition panels.

“On a Wing and a Prayer” will, I hope, be a wonderful opportunity for our congregations and the local community to discover more about this almost unknown, overlooked and sometimes feared creature and to hear their beautiful song after the millennia of silence we humans have only known from them.

Our vicar, Revd Canon Debbie Dewes, was instantly inspired by the idea and the Ministry Team and PCC followed suit. And so here we are, eagerly awaiting the 14/15 January!