Friday, July 26, 2013

Macabre Canterbury Cathedral

On a recent and wonderful trip to Canterbury and Margate (thank you, Julie Anderson, Phoebe Harkins and Ross MacFarlane!), I spent a good hour wandering around legendary Canterbury Cathedral. It was certainly far more sedate than any church you'd find in Italy, but it did have its highlights.

My favorite piece was a skeleton bedecked tomb-like monument (top four images) located in side altar; the fact that a bat was flying around the otherwise solitary space at the time of my visit certainly contributed to the atmosphere. There as also a lovely death's head-embellished flat monument (fifth down) in the main nave and, in the crypt, a deeply arresting charred and gold-leaf embellished Pieta with an interesting back story; created in 1904 for a church in Munich, it was damaged by fire in 1986. Afterwards, as the Canterbury Cathedral website explains, it was:
‘discovered’ by Stefan Knor, a lighting artist. Inspired by the powerful charisma of this seriously damaged piece of art, Stefan did not try to restore the sculpture...
... He also gave the sculpture some artistic treatment by the partial application of 24 carat gold leaf, turning it into a new contemporary piece of art. The gold is now visible alongside the black charred wood and the grey ash. It is on display with orange lighting, an essential part of this installation, which accentuates the contrast between what is charred and what is gilded. The sculpture is accompanied by an old wooden box into which visitors place their written prayers.
The Pietà has had its own death and recreation. The whole surface suffered burns and was so charred that it was replaced by a copy. Yet, since the moment that the Pietà was placed in the Cathedral on 4th April, there has been excitement and delight from those who work and volunteer here, as well as from our many visitors. It speaks of hope and light in the darkness for those who are suffering or in pain.
All images my own, except the bottom, which was found, along with the quotation above,  on the Canterbury Cathedral website. Visit this website to find out more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whose tomb is the bone-covered one? I'd love to know his story!