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What is heaven? 27 Jan 2018

Heaven discussed

A fantastically broad mix of people attended our first Conversation event on 27 January 2018, ranging from students to local residents and an ex-Bishop. Nathan Coley’s artwork ‘Heaven Is A Place Where Nothing Ever Happens’ elicited a passionate response that forced viewers to address fundamental issues about their identity, place in the world, ideas about the afterlife and their hopes and fears for the future. For some people, the work was inherently negative, for others it was comforting and even liberating.

Elisabeth Gerle, Professor of Ethics at Lund University was invited by Lena Sjöstrand, Chaplain of Lund Cathedral and member of Råängen Steering Group to moderate the event, which created lively debate amongst audience members, many of whom walked or cycled past the artwork every day.

This selection of quotes conveys the diversity of responses to the work:

“This is a hopeless statement – it makes me feel quite sad.”

“There is no message in the work. It is up to us to interpret it. I view it as inherently positive. It refers to something in the Old Testament about eternal rest.”

“The work goes beyond the commonly held belief that when you die, it’s over. It hints at the concept of the eternal life, which is fascinating in itself.”

“The idea of ‘nothing’ is liberating – a kind of open emptiness and silence.”

“It taps into our deepest fears about what will happen to us when we die.”

“For me, this links to Eastern faith and theology: it is a warning that we must be wary of what we wish for.”

“Relationships, meeting places and emotional states – these are the most important elements of our time. This artwork forces us to think about these things and to consider what it is we really know.”

“This idea of ‘emptiness’ is essentially positive – it’s the type of emptiness I experience in churches and galleries. It’s hard to find spaces where nothing is required of us or we aren’t asked to perform a transaction (financial or social).”

“The role of art in the city is so exciting when it spurs us on to think in different ways. It’s interesting to see how this will be developed in Brunnshög.”


Elisabeth Gerle

Lena Sjöstrand


Photos of the event:

Henrik Rosenqvist

Photo of the artwork:

Peter Westrup

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