Thu, 06 Aug 2020
Our local parishes come under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Salisbury. Iconic and important pieces of contemporary art by notable artists such as Henry Moore and Grayson Perry, are currently being exhibited both inside and outside Salisbury Cathedral, especially chosen to illustrate the changes in thought and creativity over the past eight centuries and to honour the achievements of the ordinary people who built a city and a cathedral of such distinction. BRIEN BEHARRELL reviews the show.
Work No. 2663 MUMS DADS KIDS GODS, 2016', white neon, by Martin Creed
IF ever there was a prize for an exhibition title suiting time and place, Spirit & Endeavour at Salisbury Cathedral would surely be in the running. Originally chosen for a multi-media experience staged to mark the 800th anniversary of the cathedral’s move to its present city site, the words and works of Spirit & Endeavour serve equally well now for the present-day Covid-19 circumstances exhibition organisers could hardly have foreseen at the outset.
When places of worship closed in March the majority of the Salisbury exhibition’s works were inevitably hidden from view within the cathedral’s walls. A virtual version of the exhibition was created as an interim response to the constraints imposed by the lockdown but, thankfully, Spirit & Endeavour is available to enjoy in person now that the cathedral has begun its gradual and careful reopening to the public.
Twenty works comprise the exhibition curated by Jacquiline Creswell, artworks that consider the human condition, together with past-and-present themes of faith, spirit and ambition, and all carefully placed within the context of the cathedral’s already-impressive permanent collection that includes works by those famous names Frink, Hepworth and Moore.
In recognition of social-distancing guidelines, there is a light-touch exhibition route for visitors to follow around the cathedral’s interior. On a first proper family outing since March, the following were among our highlights.
Sited close to the entrance, Grayson Perry’s Death of a Working Hero, 2016, typifying his story-telling skill. Inspired by the blessing of banners ceremony at Durham Cathedral, this eight-feet high tapestry demands more than a moment’s contemplation – noble labourers, a grim funeral beneath the pithead and, in the distance, a more optimistic reference courtesy of Antony Gormley’s The Angel of the North.
The Reader, 2015, Stanza
Walk on and Gormley features again. Look up, and high on a wooden chapel partition stands GRIP (Net) 2019, a recent work in the artist’s polyhedral series which began more than 10 years ago. It is easy to miss this impressive figurative work of stainless steel making its own ascension towards the heavens. Close by, A Candle, 2019 is a captivating, single channel video installation by Youki Hirakawa. The hyper-realistic smoky image tempts the viewer to reach out and pass a careful hand through it but wait… be still… a brief, barely perceptible flame flicker dissuades with its own trick of the light.
'Somewhere in the Universe, 2019-20', Daniel Chadwick
Mark Wallinger’s Threshold to the Kingdom, 2000 bursts into life as you pass. An 11-minute video-audio projection of an airport ‘Arrivals’ entrance, complete with sliding doors and hurrying business people, the positioning of these images immediately behind the altar could surely provide the starting point for a doctoral thesis. The Reader, 2015 by Stanza comprising 100 constantly-refreshing LED matrix displays is mesmerising in its restless complexity while Daniel Chadwick’s Somewhere in the Universe, 2019-20, a colourful acrylic mobile that revolves gracefully in the south transept, offers a calmer perspective towards the end of the exhibition.
'Sail, 2016', white onyx, by Sir Tony Cragg
An exhibition of this breadth and quality in such a wonderful setting is sure to lure the visitors. Although now open for scheduled public worship, general visiting and to see the exhibition, Salisbury Cathedral states that advanced booking is essential in order that it may operate a safe experience for those wishing to visit the cathedral in the present circumstances.
Bookings for the cathedral and to view the virtual tour: www.salisburycathedral.org.uk