This month, we sat down with illustrator and artist Meredith Schomburg to discuss her new work for SAINT, painted at Renaissance 2022. Alongside Meredith, the pictured mural was painted by attendees of Renaissance Conference in November 2022, as part of the collection of ‘Pop-ups’. Meredith planned, and drew out the structure of the mural, and guests completed the sections of block colours across the wall. This collaborative process, led by Meredith, brought people together to create a bright, bold, graphic mural that now adorns the wall of the hall in Hackney Church House.

Tell us a bit about you…

I think it’s wild I get to call myself a full-time artist… Something I genuinely laughed off as ever being an option for my life. I grew up painting and drawing (can’t remember a time I wasn’t making something) but chose the practical route of a graphic design education. For years in my career I bounced around all the ‘practical’ creative roles—tech, product design, marketing, branding. Illustration was a hobby that gave me something to do in the bored hours between projects or the lonely nights at home while trying to find my way in a new city. But then the unexpected happened in a series of what I can only describe as invitations of the Holy Spirit that led to quitting my full-time job, moving to New York and diving head first into working exclusively as a freelance artist. 

PICTURED: Meredith painting the mural alongside volunteers at Renaissance Conference in November 2022.

How does your background relate to the piece?

My personal style of illustration was born out of a love for depicting people through the use of bold colours, graphic patterns and expressive postures. Partnering with Saint on a piece for Renaissance centred around the mission, “For the People of East London” was a very easy yes. 

How does the piece link to the story and brand of SAINT?

For the design of the mural itself I wanted to incorporate nods to the SAINT brand and programs—from centering the composition around a large window based on the SAINT symbol, to smaller moments like the honey bee, pint of beer, musician, flower and pram. (Beekeeping, Hackney Church Brew Co., music events at Hackney Church, the Garden Project, Hey Baby!) Each of the characters were inspired by photographs of real people in the SAINT community as well. Every detail is intentional. 

Why did it feel important for you to be creating this piece at Renaissance?

What made this piece memorable though was the collaborative nature in which it was painted. Renaissance felt like the perfect space to play with this idea. Before the conference myself and another friend outlined the artwork onto the wall and throughout the weekend of Renaissance many hands picked up brushes to see the artwork come to life. The hope was to invite anyone into the creative process that wanted to, regardless of experience. Admittedly this was also an activation for myself to release a spirit of control and see what can happen when something is created not just by one person, but many. The result was not only a new, colourful display in the meeting hall but new friendships as well. 

Before a blank, white wall—now an expanse of colour and movement produced by the work of a collective community. Quite a shift in the feeling of the space. Which gets at the core of what I love about making art—the capacity to create fun and beautiful things that didn’t previously exist and literally shift your experience of a space. 

How does faith inspire your work and creativity?

I used to think for my work to be meaningful as a follower of Jesus the subject matter had to be serious and explicitly redemptive. But my work is far from serious, and I tend to balk at any overt religious imagery. More and more now I’m realising there’s power in my unique lens of playful illustration to reflect the delight in which God created the world from the beginning. I believe there’s so much joy in the heart of God and I experience that whenever I get to put pen to paper, sketch a new idea, paint a picture. I want my work to create opportunity for others to experience the purity of that joyfulness—whether they recognise the Holy Spirit behind my work or not.

What does Renaissance mean to you?

Renaissance was a playground to keep leaning into [creating an opportunity for others to experience the heart of God]. To wrestle with what it means to be both Christian and Creative. To have a whole lot of fun in the process, while also breaking down the limiting concept of ‘Christian art’ and stirring up the reminder that God wants to partner with each of us uniquely through the outpouring of His Creative Spirit. 

You can find Meredith Schomburg’s mural: For the People of East London in Hackney Church House.