Contemporary sculpture takes over Gloucester Cathedral
Works by Damien Hirst, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi and the late Lynn Chadwick will be installed in the medieval building
By Cristina Ruiz. Web only
Published online: 30 August 2010
London. A major exhibition of contemporary sculpture opens in Gloucester Cathedral this month.
Over 70 works by artists such as Damien Hirst, Marc Quinn, Sarah Lucas, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi and the late Lynn Chadwick, among many others, will be scattered throughout the soaring medieval spaces of the building.
The show, entitled “Crucible”, has been organised to mark the retirement of the Dean of Gloucester, Nicholas Bury, who describes it as “the sculpture exhibition of the decade.”
“We’ve never attempted anything so ambitious,” says the Dean who has set up a programme of contemporary art shows and launched an artist in residence programme during his 13 years in charge of the Cathedral. He says he asked the founders of Pangolin, a Gloucestershire foundry with links to the cathedral, to curate the exhibition.
“The Dean gave us carte blanche to choose the sculptures,” says Rungwe Kingdon of Pangolin who runs the foundry with his wife Claude Koenig, and who cast many of the works on display.
Their selections include a monumental bronze sculpture by Damien Hirst entitled St Bartholomew Exquisite Pain, which shows the saint, who is said to have been flayed alive, holding his own skin. It will stand in the middle of the choir. “It’s a very beautiful work but also a very painful one and that’s exactly what you see on the Cross,” says the Dean. “Giving your life for your faith is very painful but it is also very beautiful.”
A sculpture by Antony Gormley, Close V, which shows a man lying flat on the ground with limbs outstretched will be placed in a side chapel.
The Dean describes the Gormley work as “spiritual” and says having works like it on display inside the Cathedral helps promote a “conversation” between those who believe in God and those who do not.
“I have never believed that artists who speak to Christian churches should believe. In fact very often artists don’t,” explains the Dean who says the church should “champion” contemporary art regardless of what the artists believe.
“Large numbers of people coming to a cathedral will see contemporary art that they would otherwise not see. Not everyone visits galleries, far from it, and our footfall is very much larger than most galleries.”
“Perhaps we are emerging at last from our iconoclastic era and actually coming out and saying that great works of art should be in cathedrals. The church has in past centuries been a great champion of the arts and would like to be today but simply doesn’t have the money to commission as it once did.”
“Crucible” is at Gloucester Cathedral from 1 September until 30 October. For info see: www.crucible2010.co.uk
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