Clipping the Church for Erdington

Czech artist brings long-lost English tradition back to Birmingham.

An English custom dating from the 16th Century will be brought to Erdington next month. Working with the local community, Birmingham-based Czech artist Tereza Buskova will reinterpret the tradition of Clipping the Church in an event which will explore motherhood and investigate British identity through its traditions.

Derived from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘clyp-pan’ meaning ‘embrace’ or ‘clasp’, the ceremony is believed to have originated in the 16th Century. Clipping the Church took place once a year when young apprentices and women in service were allowed to visit their families. During the ceremony, the reunited families and local faithful would link hands to form an unbroken chain around the entire church. Facing out towards the world, members of this living circle would often sing hymns as they slowly moved around the symbol of their faith and belonging. Although there is evidence ceremonies took place in Birmingham, it is unknown where.

On 11 June this striking custom will be recreated with over one hundred locals. Buskova will explore motherhood through live performance, music and ornate baked goods, which will be paraded and affixed to the church as decorations. In the weeks leading up to the main event, Buskova will hold a series of baking workshops, open to the public, where participants can work with plaited dough. Communal preparation and display of ornate baked goods is rooted in the harvest and marriage celebrations of Buskova’s homeland.

The artist chose to work with St Barnabas’ Church because of the extraordinary role it plays in its community, which has a sizeable Central and Eastern European population. Just a few days before EU referendum, this event will invite reflection on how the meaning of ‘community’ has changed from the days when Clipping the Church involved the people of a single village.

Clipping the Church is organised in close collaboration with the St. Barnabas’ Church and its congregation, located at the heart of Erdington High Street. Since its renovation the church has become a thriving cultural hub and its building now fuses original historic design with contemporary architecture.

Artist Tereza Buskova said: “This project will bring together Birmingham’s diverse communities including some of its fresher arrivals from Central & Eastern Europe, like me. It will help us to see how people from various backgrounds can experience and enjoy British traditions.”

The finished film Clipping the Church (2016) will be debuted at Eastside Projects, Birmingham on Thursday 21st July 2016.

Tereza Buskova is a multi-disciplinary visual artist who celebrates and reinterprets long established customs with performance, print and video. Since her graduation from the RCA in 2007, her work has been exhibited, among others, by David Roberts (Rituals, 2008), Anita Zabludowicz (A Tradition I Do Not Mean To Break, 2009) and the Newlyn Art Gallery (Rituals Are Tellers Of Us, 2013). Her films were most recently shown at Whitechapel Gallery, London in Reality Czech: the Czech Avant-Garde Now, (2015).

For more information on the project and associated events please visit: