JOURNEY INTO THE LIGHTGeoffrey	  Clarke,	  monograph	  design	  study	  for	  Crown	  of	  Thorns	                        ...
Contents 	 Catalogue authors	                                            2 	 Preface by the Bishop of Coventry	           ...
Catalogue authors                                                                                                         ...
1 INTRODUCTION                                                                                                            ...
2 CROSS       AND CANDLESTICKS      FOR UNDERCROFT CHAPEL OF THE CROSS Geoffrey Clarke (b.1924)                           ...
3 ARCHITECT      Sir Basil Spence (1907-1976)                                                       Born in Bombay, to Sco...
4 The       Swedish Windows        Einar Forseth (1892-1988)                                    Forseth trained at the Roy...
5 HIGH      ALTAR CROSS                                                                                                   ...
6 Christ         in Glory in the Tetramorph       Tapestry (78ft x 39ft) Graham Sutherland (1903-1980)                    ...
6                                In 1957, still not satisfied with the design, Sutherland started work on a third cartoon....
6                                                                                           A MODERN INTERPRETATION       ...
7 SANCTUARY                CANDLESTICKS      Hans Coper (1920 -1981)                                                      ...
8 RELIEF      FOR THE GETHSEMANE CHAPEL       Steven Sykes (1914-1999)                                                Stev...
9 Crown         of Thorns      Chapel of Christ the Servant Geoffrey Clarke (b.1926)                                      ...
10 LECTERN             EAGLE     Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-1993)                                        Born in Suffolk, ...
Into the light catalogue
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Into the light catalogue

  1. 1. JOURNEY INTO THE LIGHTGeoffrey  Clarke,  monograph  design  study  for  Crown  of  Thorns     JOURNEY INTO THE LIGHT   The Art Treasures of Coventry Cathedral Their Making and Meaning
  2. 2. Contents Catalogue authors 2 Preface by the Bishop of Coventry 3 1 Introduction 4 2 Cross and Candlesticks for Undercroft Chapel of the Cross 6 3 Architect 8 4 The Swedish Windows 10 5 High Altar Cross 12 6 Christ in Glory in the Tetramorph Tapestry 14 7 Sanctuary Candlesticks 20 8 Relief for the Chapel of Gethsemane 22 9 Crown of Thorns, Chapel of Christ the Servant 2410 Lectern Eagle 2611 Calligraphy and the Font 2812 The Sir Jacob Epstein Sculptures 3013 The Great West Screen 3614 Baptistry Window 4215 Chapel of Unity 4816 Nave Windows 5017 Kneelers and Vestments 54 Further Reading 59 Acknowledgments 60
  3. 3. Catalogue authors Preface John Willis (Chapters 1, 2, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12 and 16) Dianne Morris (Chapters 8, 11 and 13) Christopher Cocksworth John was born in Petts Wood, Kent in 1943, and came to Coventry to study Dianne was born and educated in Kenilworth, Warwickshire. Whilst working Bishop of Coventry and work in 1961. In 1964 he married Shirley. John started his career at at the University of Warwick for a number of years, she enhanced a long- Courtaulds before moving into the motor industry and latterly Peugeot. When standing interest in art history by studying for, and being awarded, a BA ‘A sacred building ought to be one in which we are learning to see, a building that teaches early retirement occurred in 2002 a life-long interest in visual arts led to a return (Hons) in History of Art. This degree included a dissertation on the theme us not only by the words spoken, the written Word of God, the preaching of that Word, to academia and the University of Warwick, where he collected a first class of the public sculpture which was commissioned by City Architects Donald the teaching that goes on. It should be a building that helps us see afresh’. So said Rowan BA in Historical Studies followed by a research masters in the History of Art. Gibson and Arthur Ling for Coventry’s city centre during the rebuilding of Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, during his remarkable sermon at the Cathedral’s John’s introduction to the Cathedral community came when Shirley joined the the damaged city after the Second World War. Subsequent to graduating, she left the University to further pursue her studies. She is now studying for Golden Jubilee Service, 50 years to the day after its consecration in 1962. staff in 1989. In 1995, he was elected Chairman of the Friends of Coventry Cathedral, a post he held until 2004. Meanwhile, Shirley had joined the an MA in History of British Art at Warwick. Dianne’s interests include 18th Uniquely, at least as far as an English Cathedral is concerned – the art work of Coventry staff of Coventry Cathedral before moving, as a volunteer, into the cathedral and 19th century British art and architecture, medieval buildings and 20th Cathedral is integral to the building itself. The art of the architecture includes every archives. It was during a time when John was helping her in the archives, century American art. aspect of the art which makes it into the sort of religiously arresting building that it is – some two years ago, that the idea for this exhibition emerged. Dianne is currently working as an archivist at Coventry Cathedral which combines her interest in research and 20th century architecture. She also from windows to candlesticks, from statues to door knobs, from tapestry to calligraphy. SARAH WALFORD (Chapters 3, 4, 14, 15 and 17) works for Compton Verney, in Warwickshire - A renowned art gallery, which In this way, Coventry’s new Cathedral helps us to glimpse God’s new creation. We see Sarah trained as an archaeologist, but archaeological work gradually led into has a varied programme of temporary exhibitions, together with an important a complete vision coming to life before our eyes, every detail of a new world made pos- the recording of standing buildings and she moved to Coventry, in 1989, and diverse permanent collection. sible by the triumph of God’s resurrecting love that overcomes the destructive capacities of to join an architect specialising in the conservation of historic buildings and evil to which humanity, of itself, so easily succumbs. We are deeply indebted to the great ancient monuments. Katherine Margaret Lee (Chapter 6) artists of the 20th Century who caught this vision and wanted to share in it – often for The move into architecture led to an MA (Dist) in Architectural History, at Keele Katherine was born in Coventry in 1989. Her Catholic upbringing gave her a great interest in cathedrals and places of worship. She attended Saint very modest material reward – and I am delighted that the Cathedral has commissioned University, and the realisation that she found 20th-century buildings far more interesting than holes in the ground. It also led to a lasting fascination with Thomas More Catholic Primary School and then went on to studying at Bishop this excellent Golden Jubilee Exhibition to celebrate their work. This exhibition gives us Coventry’s role in the development of post-war architecture, particularly the Ullathorne Catholic School and Humanities College. As part of her A levels, in the 21st Century an opportunity not just to focus on the extraordinary skill displayed influence of its first City Architect, Donald Gibson. she studied Fine Art, and her studies included Coventry’s rich heritage, and in each piece of art but also to lift our eyes to see the risen and ascended Christ in and many visits to the Cathedral and its ruins. The MA was followed by a decade of involvement in major repair and con- through whom God’s art of perfecting creation is complete. servation works at Holy Trinity Church, Coventry. In 2005, a PhD studentship, In her year out before university, Katherine studied with Warwick Open Studies in the History of Art, gaining an insight into the field and affirming It is great joy to welcome you to this magnificent Cathedral and this Golden Jubilee with the Sir Basil Spence Archive Research Project, offered the opportunity to return to post-war architecture and to study the lives and careers of Spence her interest in the topic. Exhibition of its ‘Casket of Jewels’. and his contemporary Donald Gibson. Katherine started her undergraduate degree in the History of Art with Italian She compiled the ‘List of Works’ for the recently published Sir Basil Spence: in 2008, at the University of Warwick, and studied modules such as ‘The Buildings and Projects (London: RIBA, 2012), and has written about Spence’s Natural World and the Arts of Modernity’, and ‘Classicism and the Arts school designs for the journal, Architectural Heritage (Edinburgh: EUP, 2011) of Christianity’. As part of her undergraduate dissertation she worked with various authors and institutions including Yale University. She also did various A practising artist, she has exhibited as far afield as Kent and Caithness. industry placements whilst completing her degree including work at Warwick She lives with her family in Coventry, continues her research into the city’s Arts Centre and the Cartoon Museum in London. architecture, and is currently a part-time lecturer in the History of Art Depart- ment at Warwick University. After completing her degree , in July 2011, she began studying a part time Masters degree in Global Media and Communication at the Centre for Cultural Policy, University of Warwick. She is also working part time in the Paul Mellon Centre, London, where she is an Archives and Library Assistant.2 3
  4. 4. 1 INTRODUCTION A MODERN INTERPRETATION When Sir Basil Spence brought together the cream of the country’s artists and crafts- the liturgy of the 20th century. The result was a complexity of forces and influences “I saw the old Cathedral as standing clearly for men to decorate his “Casket of Jewels”, they created for Coventry Cathedral a feast interacting with the artists’ own creativity, which in turn needed to respond to the the Sacrifice, one side of the Christian faith, and of contemporary Christian art that attracted no less than 3 million visitors in its first building as well as the materials in which they were working. Each case was I knew my task was to design a new one which year. Journey into the Light has been written both as the catalogue to the exhibition different, usually starting with a brief, sometimes simple, sometimes full and detailed. should stand for the Triumph of the Resurrection” i of the same name held in the Cathedral during September and October 2012 and Provost Howard provided Epstein with a powerful statement on the spiritual values The artworks commissioned by Spence cannot as an enduring testimony to the creative journeys followed by Sir Jacob Epstein, he expected to find in St Michael and the Devil. On the other hand, whilst Spence be separated from the Cathedral’s architectural Graham Sutherland, John Piper, John Hutton, Geoffrey Clarke, Dame Elisabeth Frink defined the concept and associated colouring of the Nave Windows, the artists form. Together they evolved and together they and many more – a testimony we hope will illuminate the making and meaning of received no guidance from the clergy on theological symbolism. Whatever the brief, lead us on a journey from Sacrifice to the Triumph Coventry Cathedral’s art treasures for many years to come. Although many of these the designs needed to be approved by the Reconstruction Committee. of the Resurrection, and in doing so combine in works are regarded as masterpieces in their own right, even more remarkable is a unique expression of the Cathedral’s spiritual Between concept and realisation there were inevitably changes. Graham Sutherland how they combine in a unique expression of the Cathedral’s spiritual personality personality and mission. The title Journey into produced three cartoons, each approved by the Reconstruction Committee and and mission in a way that is as relevant today as it was in in 1962. the Light therefore, not only refers to the creative therefore each valid as a design for the Tapestry. It is said he made up to two journey of the artists, but evokes the pilgrimage Sir Basil Spence On 25 May 1962, the new Coventry Cathedral was consecrated in the presence hundred individual sketches and design studies. He had to respond to a changing of visitors as they progress from the Ruins, repre- of the Queen, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and a congregation of brief. The original intention was for the lower section, forming the reredos for the senting the darkness and destruction of human 2,000, including churchmen, dignitaries Lady Chapel, to be a predella with scenes from the life of the Virgin, before ultimately conflict, into the new Cathedral, delivering the and diplomats from around the world. The deciding on a Crucifixion. He also had to respond to changes in the architecture, hope of the Resurrection before Christ in Glory, large oil painting (Exhibit 1.01) by Terence including the colour of the internal walls and moving the tapestry to the end wall so brilliantly conveyed by Graham Sutherland in Cuneo (1907 – 1996) captures the full of the Cathedral when the wall behind the altar was eliminated. The majority of the Great Tapestry. drama and magnificence inside the Cathe- changes however, came from the artist’s relentless pursuit of his own aesthetic goals. For the chapters on the Epstein Sculptures, the dral during the ceremony. In the centre of the Other determinants grew out of the mode of realisation, the need to explore revolu- West Screen, the Baptistry Window, the Nave composition, facing the altar is the Bishop of tionary techniques and partnerships between designer and craftsman. One only has Windows, the High Altar Cross and the Tapestry, Coventry, the Right Reverend Cuthbert Bard- to see a John Piper design on paper next to the equivalent panel from the Baptistry we have paused to take a closer look at how sley, whilst the Archbishop of Canterbury, Window to see the importance of his partnership with glass artist, Patrick Reyntiens. each of them work within this context. The 20th the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Conversely, John Hutton was quick to appreciate that conventional glass engraving century saw great changes in the way art speaks Arthur Michael Ramsey can be seen through techniques, in which the designer would pass the realisation over to a traditional to people. Whereas traditional religious art was the candlesticks on the extreme left. More engraver, could not deliver the subtleties he was seeking in the West Screen. more often aimed at telling people what to think, widely known for his atmospheric depictions He developed revolutionary techniques which he worked himself and during the modern art invites viewers to think for themselves, of the steam railway, Cuneo was also a later stages, with help from his sons. perhaps as a starting point for wider meditations. celebrated painter of the great ceremonial The consequence is the works open themselves By offering the exhibition visitor and the reader of this book the individual stories to a multitude of interpretations. occasion. In 1953, he was the official artist behind each of the Cathedral’s great art treasures, we hope the cumulative effect at the coronation of Her Majesty Queen The interpretations in this book have each been will be a greater understanding of how a multitude of relationships and influences Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey. A paint- written by the curators of the 2012 exhibition. combined to give us all that we see today in Spence’s “Casket of Jewels”. ing by Charles Cundall RA (1890 – 1971) They will therefore be personal reflections of (Exhibit 1.02) shows the Bishop of Coventry four art historians, informed by members of the descending the Cathedral steps with Her Cathedral community. Incorporating meanings Majesty the Queen. that flow from the personal way in which the artworks speak to each of us as individuals, they Basil Spence asserted that artwork should may not always strictly follow orthodox theology. be commissioned as an entity with the Ca- Neither are they universal. Each pilgrim, each thedral, never as an afterthought, whilst the viewer, each reader will discover inspiration in clergy were determined that it should com- their own way, and that is how it should be. municate theological meaning and work with Terence Cuneo, The Consecration of Coventry Cathedral; 25 May 1962, oil on canvas i Spence, Phoenix at Coventry, p.6.4 5
  5. 5. 2 CROSS AND CANDLESTICKS FOR UNDERCROFT CHAPEL OF THE CROSS Geoffrey Clarke (b.1924) After the Second World War, the congregation had been worshiping in a small crypt chapel under the Ruins; from January 1959 until the completion of the new Cathedral in 1962, services were transferred to the Chapel of the Cross, a larger temporary chapel in the recently-completed undercroft. The architect, Sir Basil Spence invited the innovative young artist and sculptor, Geoffrey Clarke to create a cross and candlesticks for the altar. The result was spectacular. The giant cross, over 2.3 metres tall and suspended on wires in front of a gold curtain, was fabricated from narrow strips of nickel-bronze, radiating out from the form of a Latin cross and inset with pieces of crystal, lit-up from within by their own integral lighting system. Chapel of the Cross with cross and candlesticks Design for Cross for undercroft Chapel of the Cross, gouache on paper6 7
  6. 6. 3 ARCHITECT Sir Basil Spence (1907-1976) Born in Bombay, to Scottish parents, Spence left India for Edinburgh in 1919. He studied architecture at Edinburgh College of Art, winning the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) Silver Medal for the best architecture student in Britain. Success in private practice, and a growing reputation for innovative exhibition design, was halted by the Second World War. He served at the Camouflage Development and Training Centre, Farnham, Surrey and gained mentions in dispatches as a Staff Captain in intelligence. In Phoenix at Coventry, Spence remembered his sense of loss on hearing about the Cathedral’s destruction and recalled how a conversation with a friend, dug in off the Normandy beaches just after D-Day, had turned to ambitions; his was clear, he wanted “to build a cathedral”. i After the war, Spence returned to practice in Edinburgh and in 1949 joined the Festival Sir Basil Spence of Britain design team, overseeing the Festival’s Glasgow exhibition and designing the Sea and Ships Pavilion on London’s South Bank site. His work earned him an OBE in 1948, but he now wanted more “solid work”. ii The Coventry Cathedral Competition provided a new focus and his first visit to the site affected him profoundly. Of the standing ruins, only the tower was required to be kept, but Spence’s instinct was to preserve as much as possible, linking the new building at right angles to the old; the pain of sacrifice leading to the triumph of the Resurrection. Over the next ten months, his concept remained remarkably unchanged, as did the vision he had had on his first visit: the nave of the Cathedral visible through the bodies of the Saints and a huge picture behind the altar. By the time he submitted his entry drawings, in August 1951, the shallow curved bays of the nave windows (Exhibit 3.2) had been replaced by the present saw-tooth plan, and the familiar curve of the Baptistry window had supplanted earlier experiments with a mandorla-shaped frame and a large flat fronted bay (Exhibit 14.2-4). On the 15 August 1951, Spence was declared the competition winner. He was at a meeting with the Secretary to Associated Electrical Industries, George Walker, when the message came through. Spence fainted and came to as Walker, thinking it must be awful news, offered sympathy. Public criticism and hostility quickly tempered Spence’s Basil Spence, elation and he realised that his vision would have to adapt and face compromise Spence and members of the Reconstruction Committee. perspective of the new Cathedral. to accommodate the challenging and often conflicting requirements of those who would use the Cathedral. In 1958 Spence was elected President of the RIBA, he was knighted in 1960 and in 1962, a few months after the completion The realisation of Spence’s vision took eleven years, but throughout an often difficult and consecration of the Cathedral, he was appointed to the Order of Merit. process he was always certain of one thing. The Cathedral was to be “like a plain jewel-casket with many jewels inside”. iii He delighted in artistry and craftsmanship Whether working on small projects, such as three churches for new estates in Coventry, or large commissions, such as Sussex and believed that architect, artist and sculptor should work hand in hand throughout University or the British Embassy in Rome, Spence always considered his buildings with an artist’s eye. It is in the Cathedral though, any design process. His eye for artistic talent was unerring and he brought in well that his belief in the power of art and architecture reaches its most profound expression. The mix has lost none of its potency i Basil Spence, Phoenix at Coventry p.1 -known names and many yet to make their mark. He had the confidence to allow over the decades; “jewels” and “casket” still work together to create an experience which is not only physical, but profoundly ii Spence, Phoenix at Coventry p.1 spiritual. It is an experience which encapsulates and continues to speak of continuity, unity, permanence and vitality, the factors iii Spence, Phoenix at Coventry p.14 them freedom to explore and develop their contributions, each one eventually adding iv Spence, Phoenix at Coventry p.10 & 13 their jewels to the casket. which Spence saw as central to a “living Faith”. iv8 9
  7. 7. 4 The Swedish Windows Einar Forseth (1892-1988) Forseth trained at the Royal Academy, Stockholm, and became well known for his striking His sketch of the upper part of the left-hand window work in a range of media including stained glass, wall painting, textiles and notably (Exhibit 4.1) shows St Sigfrid, a English monk, who mosaic. His mosaic decoration for the Golden Hall in Stockholm City Hall, 1921-23, travelled to Sweden at the end of the 10th century. brought wide acclaim and he produced work for many Swedish schools and churches. Sigfrid is shown holding the heads of his three martyred nephews. The window as executed shows In June 1960, Forseth arrived at Spence’s London office. As Spence described the a far more grief-stricken Saint than first envisaged by meeting in Phoenix at Coventry, “a dynamic character blazed into the Cathedral Forseth. The three white flowers at his feet recall the orbit: […] like a comet with a trail of fire” i. Forseth wanted to design windows for three star-like lights said to have led to his nephews’ the Guild Chapel, but that had been put on hold, so Spence suggested he might remains. An axe, instrument of their martyrdom, is design the floor for the Chapel of Unity (see Chapter 15). At the presentation of his visible and Sigfrid stands on the broken hammer ideas to the Reconstruction Committee, Forseth also produced a drawing for a stained of the Norse god Thor, symbolic of the triumph of glass window. This led to two commissions for the ‘Swedish windows’, which were Christianity over paganism. a gift from the Church of Sweden and the Swedish community living in London. The second window represents the baptism of Saint For the first three windows, Forseth took as his theme the close ties between the Botvid. Swedish born, Botvid travelled to England churches of Britain and Sweden, through the British missionaries who first took on a trade mission and was converted and bap- Christianity to his country. tised while he was there. The Viking ship alludes to Botvid’s heritage, and his journey. The fishing net recalls a miraculous catch of fish associated with the Saint. In the final window of the group, Forseth depicts Botvid’s martyrdom. He kneels in front of a wooden church, possibly alluding to the one built by Botvid’s brother in 1129 AD to house the Saint’s remains. Sweden’s long history is symbolised by the stones of Ales Stenar, an Iron Age monument near Ystad, and by a broken Viking sword, which also signifies the triumph of Christianity. A freshwater spring is said to have emerged where the Saint’s remains rested; Forseth shows tears from the Saint’s head forming a stream. The second group of windows moves from a nar- rative theme to symbols of Britain and Sweden, and from the predominant red of martyrdom to a lighter, predominantly blue palette. The red rose of England, the Welsh daffodil, the Irish winged harp and the lion of Scotland, together with the Royal coat-of-arms, are visible in the first window. In the second, the three crowns of Sweden’s national coat-of-arms and an inscription record the gift of the The Swedish Windows windows by the Church of Sweden. i Spence, Phoenix at Coventry, p. 100 Drawing of St Sigfrid10 11
  8. 8. 5 HIGH ALTAR CROSS A MODERN INTERPRETATION Geoffrey Clarke (b.1926) For many people, the most startling characteristic of the High Altar Cross is that its “When looking at the High Altar Cross people form bears little resemblance to a traditional cross or anything we might expect. sometimes see shapes and textures transforming Essentially it cradles the Cross of Nails, but it also dispenses with orthodox sym- into a tree, with echoes perhaps of the Charred bolism, breaking out into organic forms that lead us into new places. This will be Cross, or alternatively they see a bird taking to discussed more fully when we look at interpretation, but let us start by considering the wing. Clarke’s organic style invites our minds the revolutionary steps of its creation. to wander and our imagination to search out living forms. We should never forget however, When an earlier design by Robert Goodden was rejected as too Byzantine, the the principle function of the cross is to provide award in the autumn of 1961 of the commission for the High Altar Cross and a focus for the Eucharist. In June 1961, Provost Candlesticks to Geoffrey Clarke proved a popular choice. His design for the altar Williams wrote “The joy, the glory, the triumph set in the undercroft Chapel of the Cross (Chapter 2) was very much admired. are in the tapestry: the Cross will express the It would, however, be a demanding task. The cross in particular needed to be in pain at the cost of which the triumph was won.” i sympathy with the Tapestry, yet bold enough to stand out as a focus for the celebra- Clarke’s cross, in turn, leads the eye through a tion of the Eucharist. kind of vortex at the centre of which is cradled The Form Unfolds another cross – the Cross of Nails. As well as Even from the early 1950s, we can detect in Clarke’s work the free use of symbols symbolising the Cathedral’s mission of Peace and linking the visual and spiritual. It was very much in evidence in a cross he made Reconciliation, the three nails are Arma Christi, for the Goldsmith’s Company in 1958 (Exhibit 5.3) in which we can see nascent or Instruments of the Passion.ii Along with the features that were to be further developed in the Coventry cross. The traditional cross itself, the Crown of Thorns and the Lance, they have been used by artists from early times geometrical shape of the Latin cross had already given way to more organic forms, to signify Christ’s victory over death. but especially noticeable is the protective cowl around the stem, projecting a sense of fragility. Clarke has created a work which has at its heart “the pain at the cost of which the triumph was A series of early sketches exploring possible forms were produced in monotype. won”, but by surrounding it with physical forms It was a process much favoured by Clarke for its delicate, but lively and sometimes that are at once protective, reminiscent of life unpredictable results. There are many variations on the technique, but it typically and reflecting in three dimensions the joy of the involved an image painted in black ink on a smooth surface such as glass being Tapestry, allow us to find personal meanings that transferred onto paper by pressing the two together with a roller. By January 1962 a traditional, geometrical cross could never have his design had advanced to the stage where he was able to construct a small achieved. maquette (Exhibit 5.1), clearly recognisable as approaching the high altar set we know today, but also recognisable as a continuation of the ideas given birth in the i Campbell, Coventry Cathedral, p.228. Goldsmiths’ cross. The maquette was approved by the Reconstruction Committee. ii By late medieval times, the Arma Christi had greatly multiplied to include many items that might have Revolutionary Casting Techniques survived to serve as relics. Using a relatively new technique, Clarke fabricated a full size model from blocks of expanded polystyrene, carved into shape with a knife and hot wires. The model was then encased in foundry sand to form a mould into which the hot silver was poured. The polystyrene instantly vaporised, leaving a casting with the characteristic textured surface that we see today. Finally the cross was gold-plated. In a recent interview with Dr Judith LeGrove, Clarke picked out developing the polystyrene casting technique as a memorable aspect of his career, explaining that it “was most exciting really, because you could do all sorts of under-cut things, bits and pieces and so on.” We can see such shapes in Coventry’s High Altar Cross. Model for Goldsmiths’ Cross High Altar Cross with Tapestry in the background12 13
  9. 9. 6 Christ in Glory in the Tetramorph Tapestry (78ft x 39ft) Graham Sutherland (1903-1980) Sutherland trained briefly as an engineer, but from 1921 he studied at Goldsmith’s College get the satisfactory form to ‘fit into the given shape.’. of Art specialising in etching and engraving. Following the collapse of the print market In an interview with Andrew Révai, Sutherland sug- after the Wall Street crash in 1929, Sutherland turned to landscapes focusing on ab- gested that the studies had been done from life at straction of natural forms.i In 1940 he became an official war artist, recording on the Maidstone Zoo. “I drew some flying, with wings home front. Subsequently committing to Catholicism he turned to more religious topics folded around the head, others more hieratic in and in 1946 he was commissioned by Walter Hussey, then Vicar of Saint Matthew’s, treatment. I was trying to do two things: to get Northampton, to paint the Crucifixion. away from a heraldic feeling and to give a certain Sir Basil Spence had included a tapestry depicting the Crucifixion to be placed behind the strangeness and potency to the actual bird.”vi The altar in his initial designs for the new Cathedral. He had seen and admired Sutherland’s final version was not based on an eagle, but on earlier work, in particular his Crucifixion in Northampton and so in 1951 invited him an eagle owl. (Exhibit 6:1-6) to design the tapestry for Coventry Cathedral. After meeting Spence in London in July 1953 Sutherland began work on the first cartoon. This was a tenth of The Years of Ever-changing Design the size of the actual tapestry and was painted in In December 1951, Provost Howard agreed with Bishop Gorton a lengthy and detailed oil and gouache. Christ was shown arms extended Four studies for the Eagle statement on the themes the tapestry should encompass. It would be the dominating downwards, within a mandorla, supported by the feature of the Cathedral and must present the timeless truths of the Christian Faith. four beasts. An earlier small maquette (22 x 12 cm) included a predella along the bottom, which Head of Eagle The subject would be Christ the Redeemer in the Centre of Heaven. The unity of composition should depict four themes: the Glory of the Father, Christ in the Glory would form the reredos to the Lady Chapel. It was of the Father, the Holy Spirit and the Heavenly Sphere.ii divided into three panels, showing scenes from the life of the Virgin. In the cartoon the predella had Spence, wanted a design which would speak to the ordinary person and not some- been reduced to a single frame, perhaps intended thing highly abstract. He told Sutherland, ‘From the first moment that I conceived this as a Deposition. After an inspection by the Bishop, tapestry I thought of you as its designer.’ Spence visited Sutherland Provost Howard, and members of the Reconstruction in France in January 1952 taking with him plans, photographs of his committee, Sutherland was told that as a Roman perspective drawings and his own painting of his vision of the interior.iii Catholic, he had unwittingly portrayed the Pieta He explained he wanted a ‘majestic Christ figure surrounded by which was not within the tradition of the Anglican four beasts symbolizing the Evangelists.’iv Lion: St Mark, Eagle: Church. St John, Calf: St Luke and man: St Matthew. (Exhibit 6:10-13) When he started work on a second cartoon, there fol- Sutherland had reservations. He thought that the the proposed shape lowed exchanges between Sutherland and Thurston of the tapestry was too square and was concerned with the colour about the lack of progress. Spence was also getting restrictions on his design as a consequence of Spence’s specification impatient with Sutherland. The second cartoon, of pinky grey sandstone for the interior walls of the Cathedral. After finally completed by the end of 1954, depicted acknowledging Sutherland’s reservations Spence elongated the Christ with his arms outstretched horizontally. (Exhibit tapestry to 78 feet by 39 feet; for reasons of cost, the pink stone was 6:14) The mandorla from the first carton had been also later altered to a white finish. From the beginning Sutherland replaced by dashes of light around Christ’s waist knew he wanted Christ to be a figure of ‘Great contained vitality.’v and ankles. The boxes containing the symbols of His first design used a rather dull palette. With Christ surrounded the Evangelists were now floating. The Pieta was by the symbols of the Evangelists; between Christ’s feet he placed a replaced by a simple crucifixion. This time the com- small man to to provide human scale and underneath the dragon in mittee was impressed by the cartoon, making only a chalice a further symbol of St John. Of the four beasts, Sutherland small suggestions for changes. experienced greatest difficulty with the eagle, feeling he couldn’t Two studies for the whole tapestry c1952 Colour Study for Eagle First cartoon c195314 15
  10. 10. 6 In 1957, still not satisfied with the design, Sutherland started work on a third cartoon. Weaving process Then, in the November Spence wrote to Sutherland saying that he had decided to It was initially intended that the Edinburgh Weaving Company (previously used by Henry Moore) would produce the tapestry, change the colour of the interior walls from pinky grey sandstone to white or at least but trial panels, including the calf and later an eye of Christ were deeply flawed. They also proposed making it in fifteen pieces a very light colour. This enabled Sutherland to switch to a brighter palette with vivid and stitching them together. Madame Marie Cuttoli, who had previously created work for Matisse and Leger amongst others, green background. (Exhibit 6:5-6) Furthermore an anonymous benefactor had given persuaded Spence and Sutherland to consider the French factory of Pinton Frères of Felletin, near Aubusson.viii With a loom £20,000 for the tapestry. broad enough to weave it in one piece and the sight of a first rate sample of the eagle, Sutherland and Spence agreed that the The new design was considered a great improvement. The lower panels were still an tapestry would be made there. issue. Sutherland had been told not to change them without discussing with the Committee. The Contract with Pinton Frères, stated that the tapestry would be executed within thirty months for 20,060,000 Francs (£17,000) But he had created something resembling the Pieta again. Nine days later the Provost wrote ‘in exact accordance as to form and colour the painting by Graham Sutherland which is in your possession, and also to the to Sutherland saying that they would accommodate Sutherland’s designs. Sutherland found satisfaction of the artists and architect’ who were also to approve samples of weaving. this frustrating as he felt they were The Coventry Tapestry was woven with a texture of 12 portees (a tapestry measure corresponding to 9 warp threads per inch). being confusing and so suggested In addition to the main colours, threads of varying shades were used to produce more delicate nuances of tone. The number of that he should be paid an additional colours used exceeded 900.ix The wool came from Australia and partly from local French sources was dyed in Pinton Frères’ fee of £300-£400 for extra work own dye-workshops of using the water of the River Creuse, using fast dyes, with very high resistance to fading.x caused by ‘differences between the ecclesiastical authorities.’vii In all, twelve weavers were fully occupied over the two years. The third and final cartoon (Exhibit 6:15) shows a conflation of ele- ments from Sutherland’s previous designs, incorporating much of the initial nature from the first cartoon, bringing back the mandorla, but most importantly showing Christ raising his forearms, with his hands presented in the attitude of blessing. An amended design for the Cruci- fixion, painted onto brown paper was subsequently approved by the Cathedral authorities, and pasted over the version on the cartoon. Its theft at Felletin, possibly by tourists, allows us to look at the differences by comparing the cartoon version with the finished tapestry. As soon as the Committee had agreed that this would be the final design, Sutherland realised he no longer liked it, and continued to work on the design for a further two or three weeks. He finally had to stop when the design was released to the press. Second cartoon c1954 Third cartoon c1957 Spence with M. Pinton at Pinton Frères.16 17
  11. 11. 6 A MODERN INTERPRETATION Photographic roll “The first thing this building teaches us is to see Jesus.” After Sutherland had finalised his design, the problem Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, Coventry Cathedral Golden Jubilee Service occurred of how to recreate it so that each detail 25 May 2012 could be reproduced when woven. The solution was The amazing array of symbolism contained within Graham Sutherland’s great tapestry offers to photograph the cartoon in horizontal strips and then an opportunity for deep reflection. During a period of sabbatical leave in 1991, Michael enlarge them to full size, resulting in twenty four strips, Sadgrove, then Precentor of Coventry Cathedral, took it as the focus for his own meditations. each 39 feet foot by 3 foot. (Exhibit 6:7) The quality In his book, “A Picture of Faith” he wrote “… its powerful, often shifting imagery seems to of the photographs was not perfect so Sutherland had me to have so much to say about the human condition, about our ultimate concerns, about to draw on them to ensure lines were clear. The final our faith in God.” cartoon (Exhibit 6:15) was taken to Pinton Frères so the For the visitor, the impact is of necessity more immediate. Perceptions of the Cathedral can weavers could see the full design and reference it for relate to the tapestry’s dominant position so wherever you stand the image of Christ can colour. They started at the bottom of the tapestry and always be seen. It is as if He is watching over you wherever you are. The eye is always worked from the back, with the photographic bands drawn towards the tapestry not only because of its positioning in the Cathedral, but in the underneath the loom to guide them. way its scale demands our attention. The story is told of how once the photographic rolls Whatever glories the Cathedral holds they are dwarfed by this central vision which calls for were taken to Pinton Frères they had to be laid out to closer examination. The exuberant colours of the tapestry, the green hues surrounding Christ check the register. With no suitably sized hall avail- and the transitional fading of grey within the yellow of the mandorla, encompassing his very able, they were spread out on a farmer’s field – after being, helps to draw the eye inwards. Close up you can see the details of the four Evangelists. the cows were cleared out! The tapestry not only reveals the figure of Christ but through the Evangelists reinforces His message as conveyed in the Gospels. Sutherland visited the workshops nine times while the The crucifixion at the base of the tapestry serves as a reredos for the Lady Chapel. It is weaving was in progress. He had to amend, and then severe and to many, reminiscent of the tortured images of the crucified Christ expressed by send, each photographic band and several sections Grunwald (c.1460 – 1528). It is perfectly aligned with the high altar cross as if His suffering had to be redrawn. has extended out onto the altar and is here for us. Sutherland wanted the finished tapestry to go on exhibi- In his sermon at the Cathedral’s Golden Jubilee service, Archbishop Rowan Williams gave tion in Paris, so that they could be fully checked before us a new perspective on the tapestry and the building. Referring to the vision looking back leaving France. This was neither feasible nor desirable through the Cathedral, as seen by the eyes of Christ and by humanity in the form of the small from the Cathedral’s perspective, so in February 1962, figure of a man between His feet, Archbishop Williams said the building helps us to see Sutherland checked it on the floor in the Building Trades afresh. “Reconciliation does not happen unless we see differently.” School at Felletin. After the difficulties that had gone before, this proved the final rift between Sutherland i Berthoud R. Graham Sutherland a biography (1982) and Spence and the Cathedral authorities. ii Revai A. Christ in Glory in the Tetramorph. The Genesis of the Great Tapestry in Coventry Cathedral The tapestry arrived in England in March 1962. It took (1964), pp.90 – 93. two days to be hung. iii Berthoud (1982) p.203 iv Berthoud (1982) p.203 v Berthoud (1982) p.204 vi Revai (1964) p.52 vii Berthoud (1982) p.210 viii Berthoud (1982) p.209 ix Revai (1964) p.85 x Revai (1964) p.85 Completed Tapestry 196218 19
  12. 12. 7 SANCTUARY CANDLESTICKS Hans Coper (1920 -1981) Lucie Rie was already an accomplished potter when she fled Vienna in 1938 and set up a studio in Albion Mews, Bayswater, whilst Hans Coper, born in Lower Saxony and likewise an émigré from Nazi Europe, began his career in ceramics when he joined Rie’s workshop in 1946. In their own spe- cialities, they each devel- oped to become the most influential ceramicists in post-war Britain. After his move to Digswell in Hertfordshire in 1959, Coper took an interest in ceramics as architecture, breaking new ground by exploring what might be described as sculptural forms, a step that undoubtedly had a bearing on his commission in early 1962 to make six monumental candlesticks for the Sanctuary of Coventry Cathedral. Seven foot high (nine foot with candles) they were placed three on either side of the High Altar to concentrate attention on the most sacred place in the Cathedral. The two darker ones, finished in black manganese were each hand-thrown in seven pieces, whilst the four lighter ones, finished in white felspatic slip and manganese, were made in six pieces, to be assembled by threading on steel rods set in the floor. The Reconstruction Committee gave their approval for the designs after they had seen a pair of one foot high maquettes. The maquettes were made in two pieces. As well as the Sanctuary Candlesticks, Coper made a pair of candlesticks for the Chapel of Christ the Servant as well as smaller candlestick for the Lady Chapel and the Chapel of Gethsemane. Maquettes for Sanctuary Candlesticks Sanctuary Candlestick20 21
  13. 13. 8 RELIEF FOR THE GETHSEMANE CHAPEL Steven Sykes (1914-1999) Steven Sykes was born in 1914 in Formby, Lancashire and studied design at the Royal College of Art from 1933-36, specialising in stained glass. After marriage he took up pottery, learning techniques from his wife. Soon after the outbreak of war, he joined an army camouflage course and was posted with the Royal Engineers to the Middle East. In 1946 Sykes began teaching at Chelsea School of Art where he remained until his retirement in 1979. In 1967 he produced a fountain sculpture for the British Pavilion, Expo 67, London. Near the high altar in Coventry Cathedral is the chapel for private prayer, the Chapel of Christ in Gethsemane (Exhibit 8.4) where one can see the hand of the angel, which came to strengthen Jesus, so clearly pointing to heaven. (Exhibit 8.2) Basil Spence’s original design placed this chapel next to the Lady Chapel, and in 1959 he and the Provost discussed dedicating the chapel to St Michael and St Chad. Subsequently, Steven Sykes (whom Spence had met in Edinburgh where Sykes taught stained glass at the College of Art) was asked to produce a design based on the theme of the fight against evil. Provost Williams suggested that the name of the chapel be changed from Chapel of Resurrection to the Chapel of Christ in Gethsemane, consequently the design behind the altar not only suggests Christ’s battle with His problems but also the Angel of the Lord strengthening Him. Cor- responding with its name, the reredos depicts the Gethsemane scene; the disciples asleep, the Lord in agony, and the angel with the cup strengthening Him, possibly Maquette for Relief of Gethsemane Chapel reminding us as viewers of our struggles in life. As the subject for this relief, the Provost had proposed the following passage from Chapter 22 of St Luke’s Gospel: 43. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground; 44. And said unto them, Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The commission consisted of two wall panels in low relief, one behind the altar, cast in ciment fondu depicting an angel holding a chalice and on the right hand panel the image shows the sleeping disciples. The angel is interpreted as St. Michael, and the sleeping disciples are surrounded by darkness. Sykes covered the background with gold leaf and a mosaic of blue tesserae, crystal and other materials which give life and vigour to this wall. With light falling from the side and the top the result is dazzling (Exhibit 8.1). The screen dividing the worshippers from the main groups of visitors was designed by Basil Spence, as a crown of thorns. The design was faithfully made by the Royal Engineers. As Spence himself said “People going into this chapel to pray may be reminded of the Crown of Thorns, that giving and sacrifice is a short cut to peace and tranquility of mind”. i Design for Altar and Wall Panel Chapel of Gethsemane i Spence, Phoenix at Coventry, p 10222 23
  14. 14. 9 Crown of Thorns Chapel of Christ the Servant Geoffrey Clarke (b.1926) Monotype as a design process much favoured by Clarke for its delicate, but lively and sometimes unpredictable results has already been discussed (5. High Altar Cross) and he used it for a number of studies for the Crown of Thorns in the Chapel of Christ the Servant. Cast in aluminium, the Crown of Thorns was to be suspended over the altar, around the base of a large aluminium cross, pierced with three nails.   monotype Design study for Crown of Thorns Geoffrey  Clarke,  monograph  design  study  for  Crown  of  Thorns     Chapel of Christ the Servant with Crown of Thorns24 25
  15. 15. 10 LECTERN EAGLE Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-1993) Born in Suffolk, Elisabeth Frink studied art first at Guildford and then the Chelsea School of Art. She was already gaining a reputation for spirited bird sculptures when in early 1962 Basil Spence invited her to make the lectern eagle for Coventry Cathedral. The use of an eagle with outspread wings to support the Bible is an ancient tradition, but Frink’s treatment of the subject was far from traditional. Studies from life at London Zoo were simplified to their basic forms. Spontaneity came from working directly on the plaster model and to create the chunkiness visible in the wing feathers, she bought bundles of kindling wood from her local hardware store. Pieces of wood can be clearly seen in the part worked plaster model illustrated. The magnificent bird was described by Spence as looking “as if it had just settled there after a long flight.” i Frink also made the Flame of the Holy Spirit over the Dean’s stall and the mitre over the Bishop’s throne, both pieces formed from beaten copper and gilded. A further bronze sculpture by Frink is to be found across the Chancel on the front of the pulpit. The small Crucified Christ was not an original commission, but added in 1987 after an exhibition of Frink’s work to mark the Cathedral’s Silver Jubilee. i Spence, Phoenix at Coventry, p.104. Plaster model of eagle The Lectern Eagle26 27

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