Acclaimed artist says gospel song ‘O Happy Day’ led him to seek God

Charlie Mackesy, artist residing in London.

Originally published in The Christian Post

Charles Mackesy, an artist whose work has been collected by the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Bear Grylls and Sting, says God used art to draw him away from his atheist beliefs.

It began a quarter of a century ago when Mackesy was at a Glasteonbury music festival where he first heard the gospel song “O Happy Day.” He was so overcome by the song that he, then an atheist, wept and wept.

He then concluded “there must be more to this than meets the eye.”

“Jesus quietly introduced me to a journey into finding people really beautiful, which is how my art really began,” said Mackesy during an interview with CBN.

“Because I felt inside me he was going, ‘Look. How beautiful is that guy sitting on that bench?’ And I would have never noticed him before.”

Artistic endeavours
Born in Northumberland in 1962, Mackesy began his artistic endeavours during the 1980s, with his first showcase being held in 1984 at a pub.

“I didn’t study art but just kept busy — working as a cartoonist for the Spectator magazine, as an illustrator for Oxford University Press, drawing ads for the daily papers and doing poster designs for the likes of Cockspur Rum,” recalled Mackesy.

“I am cautious to explain what I think the work is saying for fear of taking away from you something you have seen and I have not. I could conclude by saying that life is precious and faith is a journey and sometimes art can give a small glimpse of these moments, seen and unseen.”

Mackesy’s work includes paintings, sculptures and drawings, and have been featured in galleries in Edinburgh, New York and London.

Prodigal son
One of his more notable works was a bronze sculpture of the prodigal son returning to his father, inspired by the parable spoken by Jesus as found in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 15.

Showing the intimate embrace of the two from the torsos up, the passionate opus can be found at Holy Trinity Brompton Church, an influential multisite church in England.

Artwork is not the only thing that Mackesy has contributed to HTB Church, as he also occasionally guest preaches at the congregation.

“Charlie appeals to people outside of the church because he’s not what they expect,” said Nicky Gumbel, head of HTB Church, to CBN.

“You know, when you have the sort of picture of ‘the evangelist,’ you don’t picture Charlie Mackesy, and I think that’s what’s so wonderful about him.”

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