Tag Archives: Chichester

Going Viral: Rev Jo and practicalities.

Saint Dunstan’s self-portrait at the foot of the risen Lord

Good morning everyone, and hope this continues to find you well, as we are here at the Rectory, and another fine day today. 
Yesterday I observed how the shops that were open were managing – as this is something we will be doing when it comes to being open for worship, it helps to observe how others are managing signage, hand sanitizers, and social distancing. To be honest, it wasn’t as busy as I had anticipated. Yes there were definitely more folk out there, but often our numbers are swelled by tourists and students, and with neither of them around, it is very much the residents of Canterbury and surrounding villages. Of course with all our cafes and restaurants still closed, there still felt a sense of semi-lockdown; along with our dear Marlowe theatre (please do keep them in your prayers). It was also good to catch up with a number of our rough sleepers, many of whom I have got to know over recent years here in Canterbury – it was lovely as I was treated like a long lost friend, though it made my day to see them all, and find out how they have faired in lockdown. One couple, who have recently got engaged were asking about a church wedding next year, which would be wonderful.
So today we have been asked to remember Richard, Bishop of Chichester, who died in 1253, and his ‘Day-by day’ prayer you may know, words that have been said by many down the ages, to this day, words we can perhaps reflect upon this day, whatever the day holds before us:

Day-by-day

Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
For all the benefits you have given me,
For all the pains and insults you have borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know You more clearly,
Love You more dearly,
Follow You more nearly 
Day by Day

Morning prayer
https://youtu.be/02JXzgbRiwU
Off now to join Sue & Jayne as we plan the logistics of worship at St Dunstan’s, along with covid risk assessments.
God Bless you all, and please do keep safe, keep connected, and keep praying.
Jo
🙏🙏🙏

Rev Jo Richards Rector of the Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury

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11 June: The Holy Trinity – still a bone of contention!

In an earlier post about the art at Chichester, I discussed some of oldest works in the Cathedral – the Romanesque reliefs depicting scenes from the raising of Lazarus. This post brings us forward, to the twentieth century, and a work which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last year – the tapestry by John Piper at the high altar. A photograph of the piece is available on the Cathedral’s website.

 

Known simply as ‘the Piper Tapestry’, this piece was commissioned by Walter Hussey, Dean of Chichester (1955-77). As parish priest at St Matthew’s in Northampton, and then as Dean of Chichester, Hussey was a great champion of the arts in the round – commissioning works of art and musical compositions, and inviting figures such as writers to give sermons.

 

The Piper Tapestry was part of a reordering of the quire in the 1960s. Hussey decided that an injection of colour was needed at the high altar and in 1963 approached Piper to produce a design to adorn the sixteenth-century Sherbourne screen. Hussey insisted that whenever something was added to a church in centuries past, it was executed in the contemporary style, and so it should be in the modern age.

 

Piper explored a number of different mediums before deciding upon tapestry – a medium which would sit comfortably alongside the screen, but which he could make his own. In fact, the piece consists of seven tapestries, hanging in each of the bays of the screen, which are read as a continuous design. This was Piper’s first work in this medium.

 

The subject of the tapestry also went through various iterations before the final conception, consisting of symbols of the Trinity (the dedication of the Cathedral) in the central portion, and on either side depictions of the four classical elements (earth, air, fire and water) and the beasts associated with the Evangelists (the man for Matthew, the lion for Mark, the ox for Luke and the Eagle for John). Piper had prepared a version of this scheme by the end of 1964, but at this point Lancelot Mason, Archdeacon of Chichester, raised an objection: in the central portion, Piper had included a Tau cross for the Son, a flame for the Holy Spirit, and a triangle for the Father. Mason objected that the triangle was a symbol of the Trinity and could not represent the Father; Piper would, Mason insisted, need to add another symbol.

 

Piper was unhappy about this request at a late stage in the process, having felt that the design had reached final form, but eventually he decided to add a white light, in addition to the triangle, giving the composition of elements that we see in the final design.

 

The tapestries were woven by Pinton Frères in Felletin near Aubusson in central France and installed in 1966. Their dedication took place at Evensong on 20 September. Hussey had certainly achieved his desired injection of colour into the space, but although he was delighted with the result, the public reception was rather mixed.

 

Both Hussey, and the local press, received numerous letters about the tapestries – some delighting in this bold introduction to the Cathedral interior, but others claiming that it was too garish; some even wrote that they could not take Communion before it. Perhaps the most famous objector was Cheslyn Jones, Canon Chancellor at the Cathedral, who reportedly wore dark glasses to the dedication service.

 

Fifty years later, in September 2016, the anniversary was marked with a prayer from the dedication service being read at Evensong, which was followed by a talk in which I told the story of the tapestry and shared some contemporary responses to it. The current Chancellor, Anthony Cane, dug out his own dark glasses for the occasion in a nod to his predecessor.

 

The occasion brought to life the richness of this piece and the regard in which it is held by the Cathedral community; at the end of the talk, I invited the audience to share their own thoughts on the tapestry.

 

A popular interpretation of the ‘air’ motifs – the most difficult element to depict in visual form – was that there is something of Sputnik I (the first artificial satellite, launched in 1957) in Piper’s choice of forms. Although I have not come across Piper mentioning this inspiration, this interpretation certainly resonates with the era of early space exploration at the time when the tapestry was created.

 

A memorable impression shared by another person was that the dramatic shard of red background in the central portion of the design can be seen as the opening of the veil in the Temple in Jerusalem, torn in two at the moment of Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45). This biblical moment represents God’s presence bursting forth into the world, and the speaker who proposed this interpretation of the tapestry felt that the symbols in the central portion seem to burst from the surface of the hangings. Extending this reading to consider the other symbols included in the tapestry, we have a vision of God’s presence embracing all Creation – the world, beasts and humankind.

 

After fifty (one) years, Piper’s tapestry still feels daring and challenging, and doubtless does not please all. But, to paraphrase a participant in a discussion group I held about the tapestry, Christianity is not safe and wishy-washy, and so the tapestry continues to do important service to the Cathedral.

 

Further reading

 

Naomi Billingsley, ‘“A Magnificent Adornment to this House of God”? The Piper Tapestry at 50’, Lecture at Chichester Cathedral (22 September 2016).

 

Paul Foster (ed.). Chichester Tapestries. Lurçat – Piper – Benker: A Sequence of Exploration (Otter Memorial Paper 7) (Chichester: Bishop Otter College, 1991).

 

Walter Hussey, Patron of Art: The Revival of a Great Tradition Among Modern Artists (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1985).

 

Simon Martin, John Piper: The Fabric of Modernism (Chichester: Pallant House Gallery, 2016).

 

Frances Spalding, John Piper. Myfanwy Piper. Lives in Art (Oxford: OUP, 2009).

 

A version of this post was published by Transpositions on 23 November 2016. 

NAIB.

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2 April: Jesus Wept.

Chichester Cathedral is famed for its modern art – especially the prominent commissions of the artists Graham Sutherland, John Piper and Marc Chagall by Walter Hussey during his time as Dean (1955-1977). It is also home to some fine works of art from earlier periods, and there have been a number of important acquisitions since Hussey’s time as Dean.

 

During 2016, as part of my work as Bishop Otter Scholar for Theology and the Arts in the Diocese of Chichester, I was researching the art in the Cathedral, and leading a series of discussion groups through which I gathered some contemporary responses to the works.

 

 

Among the oldest treasures in the Cathedral are two reliefs, thought to date from the twelfth century, depicting scenes from the Lazarus narrative in John’s Gospel: Martha and Mary going to meet Jesus (John 11:30-32) and the raising of Lazarus (John 11:33-44).

 

These are rare examples of Romanesque sculpture in Britain, and a remarkable survival. Resonating wonderfully with their subject-matter, the reliefs were hidden for centuries, and rediscovered, behind the choir stalls, in 1829. Other fragments of carvings were discovered along with the reliefs, and it is thought that they formed part of a larger scheme in a chancel screen. When rediscovered, the reliefs were moved to their present location in the south aisle, which saved them from another risk – the collapse of the Cathedral spire (into the quire, where the reliefs were found) in 1861.

 

One of the most striking features of the carvings is the emotional intensity in the faces of the figures, and this was the first thing that was commented on during the discussion session about the reliefs; as one participant put it simply: ‘they look so sad’. Jesus’ face in the raising of Lazarus is particularly powerful – a very striking rendering of the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, usually rendered ‘Jesus wept’.

 

There is a wonderful drawing of the face of Jesus by John Piper in the collection at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, where Dean Hussey bequeathed his personal art collection (further links between the Cathedral and the gallery will be mentioned in future posts). Piper is one of many artists inspired by the reliefs; another was Eric Gill, who grew up in Chichester, and enthused about the reliefs: he borrowed the composition of the sisters meeting Jesus for Jesus meeting the daughters of Jerusalem in his Stations of the Cross at Westminster Cathedral.

 

Part of the appeal of the reliefs lies, as one participant highlighted, in the very human presentation of Jesus here. According to the contemporary custom, we are left in no doubt that Jesus is the most important figure in the reliefs by his exaggerated height. But at the same time, this is a figure who has friendships and emotions, and whose grief-stricken face inspires empathy from viewers many centuries after it was carved.

 

Indeed, for me, the fact that the reliefs were carved many centuries ago heightens their impact – partly because their very survival is so remarkable, but more so because their emotional immediacy speaks across the centuries. And because most of the ‘facts’ about these carvings are lost in the mists of time, the viewer is liberated from becoming bogged down in analysing details such as the artists’ intentions and instead is given, as one participant put it ‘a blank page’, inviting ‘an immediate, emotional reaction… [rather] than something which is more intellectual.’

 

On the other hand, Linda Brown highlighted that we can also view the reliefs as giving us an insight into twelfth century perceptions of the Lazarus narrative, and, in the architectural features in the sisters meeting Jesus, impressions of the Holy Land in this period. This thought prompted a discussion about travel and pilgrimage in this period, and in turn made me wonder if we might view these works like the mediaeval church labyrinths which allowed the faithful to make a surrogate pilgrimage. Perhaps the twelfth-century viewer of the reliefs (or indeed the twenty-first century one) could (and can) imagine him/herself standing at the gateway and the graveside in Bethany, with Jesus, Martha and Mary, and sharing in their anguish.

 

Thank you to Linda Brown, Margaret Baugier, Fran Box, Tessa Cox, Rebekah Hanson, Jennifer Sandys and the participants who asked to remain anonymous for their contributions on this topic.

 

Further reading

 

Trevor Brighton, ‘Art in the Cathedral from the Foundation to the Civil War’ in Chichester Cathedral: A Historical Survey, ed. Mary Hobbes (Chichester: Philimoe & Co. Ltd, 1994), 69-84: 72-73.

 

Chichester Cathedral, ‘Delve Deeper: The Chichester Reliefs’, Chichester Cathedral website, 2016. Accessed 27/12/2016.

 

Alan Saunders, The Chichester Reliefs (Chichester: West Sussex Institute of Higher Education, 1989).

 

 

A version of this post was published by Transpositions on 3 October 2016. 

 

NAIB.

 

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12 January: Open Heart, Open Mind III: To see more clearly: looking at our art

St_Richard_Statue

Before leaving Chichester Naomi published this resource for anyone looking at Christian art in Churches and elsewhere. Make it a new year’s resolution to spend quiet time in front of a work of art, perhaps using some of the questions in the resource this post links to.

To see more clearly: looking at our art

Reflecting on art in a religious context: A resource for churches in the Diocese of Sussex and beyond

There is a rich tradition of art in churches in Sussex – from the mediaeval frescos at St. John the Baptist, Clayton, to twentieth-century works commissioned by Dean Hussey at Chichester Cathedral, to contemporary commissions such as Maggi Hambling’s The Resurrection Spirit at St. Dunstan’s Mayfield (2013). Our art is a wonderful resource for helping us to understand and reflect upon matters of faith.

We can also draw on the rich history of religious art in museum and gallery collections in Sussex, and further afield – whether by visiting these collections, or viewing images online or in books.

These notes and questions are intended to encourage individuals and groups to engage in a contemplative way with works of art in churches and elsewhere. It suggests a series of questions to prompt reflection and/or discussion of different types of works of art.

As we begin the Year of the Bible in the Diocese of Chichester this Advent, our art can provide a powerful focus for reflection on biblical narratives. Within these pages, you will find some specific guidance for looking at biblical art, as well as for other types of art you might encounter in a religious context.

No expert knowledge is needed to appreciate art – just an openness to look and to ask questions. Through spending time looking at the art in our churches, we can not only see it more clearly, but also in doing so, as St. Richard prays, know Jesus Christ more clearly.

Naomi Billingsley, Bishop Otter Scholar, the Diocese of Chichester, Advent 2016.

Statue of Saint Richard outside Chichester Cathedral.

 

Download the resource here: looking-at-religious-art-_-otter-scholar

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Shadows of the Wanderer – Discussion Group, 15 October

Dear Friends,’
At a time when refugees and migrants are often before our eyes on the news, here is an opportunity to reflect on their experiences of rejection, solidarity, exploitation and welcome through the powerful art of Ana Maria Pacheco.

Bishop Otter Scholar

Saturday 15 October 2016, 11am – 12.30pm, Chichester Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace

By popular demand, I am running a discussion group on the installation of Ana Maria Pacheco’s ‘Shadows of the Wanderer’ and ‘Head of John the Baptist’ in Chichester Cathedral.

The format will be similar to the discussion sessions about the Cathedral’s permanent art held earlier in the year: we will spend some time looking at the installation in situ, then adjourn for a discussion in the Bishop’s Palace.

Participants are encouraged to read Book II of the Aeneid, which inspired Pacheco’s ‘Shadows of the Wanderer’ before the session, though this is entirely optional. The Aeneid is available in numerous translations in hard copy and online.

The event is free, but places are limited. Please email naomi[dot]billingsley[at]chichester[dot]anglican[dot]org to book.

Further details about the installation and other associated events can be found on the Cathedral website.

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Shadows of the Wanderer in Chichester.

Shadows of the Wanderer

 

NAIB has drawn our attention to this exhibition in  Chichester Cathedral’s North Transept until Monday 14th November 2016.

Ana Maria Pacheco’s outstanding and powerful installation Shadows of the Wanderer is a multi-piece figurative sculpture in polychromed wood, in which ten over life-size darkly robed figures witness the struggle of a young man to carry an older man on his shoulders.  This powerful image resonates with contemporary and topical issues of exile, migration and the displacement of people struggling to flee persecution.   Ana was inspired by Virgil’s Aeneid, where the hero Aeneas carries his lame father Anchises on his back, leading a band of refugees from the ravaged ruins of Troy.

Ana Maria Pacheco (sculptor, painter and printmaker) was born in Brazil.  Following degrees in both art and music she went on to complete a postgraduate course in music and education at the Federal University of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.  She then taught and lectured for several years at the Pontifical Catholic University of Goiás and the Federal University of Goiás before leaving for London in 1973 on a British Council Scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art. Since then she has lived and worked in England

Her work is deeply rooted in Latin American and European social history and culture and deals with serious narratives and enduring themes (journeys, spirituality, mythology, unchecked power) that contribute to the many layers of interpretation and meaning in her work.    It has a strong humanist message and is capable of arousing extreme emotions.

Shadows of the Wanderer

Shadows of the Wanderer

The exhibition was officially opened on Friday 15th July 2016 by David Elliott, Curator and Writer.

This exhibition has been curated by Jacquiline Creswell (Salisbury Cathedral’s Visual Arts Advisor), Pratt Contemporary and Chichester Cathedral’s Exhibitions Committee.

Chichester Cathedral: Shadows of the wanderer.shtml 

 

 

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Interruption – Art and Faith: Representations of St Richard

On Saturday 11th June a group met to discuss representations of St. Richard at Chichester Cathedral. Sussex’s saint appears a number of times in and around the Cathedral. Our main foci were the two most recent such works to be seen at the Cathedral: Philip Jackson’s exterior sculpture (2000) and Sergei Fyodorov’s icon at the shrine of St Richard (2003). We also looked at W.H. Randoll Blacking’s 1951 statue, also located at the shrine; the Chichester Cathedral banner (c.1900), designed by Ernest Gilbert and made by Miss H. Harvey, which hangs in the north aisle; the portrait in Lambert Barnard’s ‘Catalogue of Bishops’ (c.1536) in the North Transept; the statue above St. Richard’s door (in the Western arm of the cloisters, leading into the Cathedral). We also looked at an image of the St. Richard window at nearby St. Richard’s Roman Catholic parish church.

We began with a brief introduction to the life of St. Richard (1197-1253), Bishop of Chichester (1245-53). Richard is remembered for his good works and humble lifestyle. He travelled across the Diocese preaching, and it was at the end of his preaching tour, in Dover, that St. Richard died on 3rd April 1253. His body was translated to a shrine in the Cathedral on 16th June 1276 – now celebrated as St. Richard’s Day. The shrine was destroyed at the Reformation, but was restored in the twentieth century. There is a helpful summary of the life of St. Richard available from Chichester Cathedral’s website.

The various artists we looked at adopted a variety of approaches to depicting the saint. He is usually shown in episcopal dress, including a mitre. All of the pre-21st century examples include a chalice at Richard’s feet – a reference to a story that he once dropped a chalice whilst celebrating the Eucharist but not a drop was spilt.

Philip Jackson chose to strip away all the accoutrements normally associated with St. Richard to show him wearing a simple cope, with a bare head. Jackson wanted to reflect the austerity of Richard’s life, rather than the idealised depictions of the saint wearing gold and so on in some of the other examples in the Cathedral. Jackson also gave his figure a stern expression, in keeping with the saint’s character.

I have spoken to a number of people – and count myself among them – who find Jackson’s austere portrait of St. Richard somewhat spooky, even sinister. I particularly feel this when I see the sculpture lit up at night, glooming over the approach to the Cathedral, giving it an almost gothic feel. I therefore found it very refreshing that participants in the discussion responded very positively to the work, reading it as an image of the saint facing out from the Cathedral, towards the town, with a gesture of blessing in motion (thus he is not looking in the same direction as his extended arm, which others have told me they find impersonal).

The Fyodorov icon prompted a lengthy discussion about the role of icons more broadly, and their increasing presence in Anglican churches. Fyodorov trained in Russia but is now based in Britain, and adapts his style to the context for which he is working (a Moscow Times article which one of the participants brought to the session contains some helpful insights into Fyodorov’s work). Some people felt that by portraying St. Richard in a more naturalistic style than is traditional in icons, the work has less impact as a focus of meditation. However, we also noted that the inclusion of St. Richard pointing to Christ is an eloquent visual expression of the sentiments of St. Richard’s prayer:

Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have given us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.

As in all things, different works of art will appeal more to some individuals than others, but one thing that repeatedly comes out of the discussion groups is that when a work of art does resonate for an individual, it can, like St. Richard’s prayer, redirect one’s attention to God.

There are two sessions left in the series of discussion groups; details here.

Copied from: Arts and Faith in Sussex .

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Interruption: Calling artists in Sussex

chidavidwindow (585x800)

If you are an artist in any discipline working in Sussex: read on! Naomi Billingsley, the Bishop Otter Scholar, has published this appeal.

Call for entries. 

Calling artists, academics, musicians, thespians in Sussex interested in working with parishes and groups in the Diocese of Chichester!

I am launching a new directory of Sussex-based specialists in faith and the arts for the Diocesan website.

Based on a similar model to the Diocese of Chester’s Arts & Faith Network, the directory will list details of specialists interested in providing workshops, talks and other activities in faith and the arts for groups in the Diocese of Chichester.

Please submit your details for consideration for inclusion in the directory via this survey and do share with others who may be interested in being included in the directory.

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Interruption: Forthcoming events at Chichester Cathedral

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May 7: Kingship

chich.starceiling (785x800)

In Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse,  the fugitive King Alfred enters the Danish King Guthrum’s camp, and takes a turn with the harp – as a Ninth Century Rapper – and addresses the assembled war lords:

“Your lord sits high in the saddle,
A broken-hearted king,
But our king Alfred, lost from fame,
Fallen among foes or bonds of shame,
In I know not what mean trade or name,
Has still some song to sing;

“Our monks go robed in rain and snow,
But the heart of flame therein,
But you go clothed in feasts and flames,
When all is ice within;

“Nor shall all iron dooms make dumb
Men wondering ceaselessly,
If it be not better to fast for joy
Than feast for misery.

mercylogoAlfred is called the Great, a thousand and more years on, because he had a song to sing, a warm heart prepared to live and die for his people, and a sense of his own role as a servant of his people through the bad times as well as the good. A King whose reign was rooted in God’s Mercy.

May we have hearts of flame burning within us on the road (Luke 24:32), may we recognise the Lord in each other.

MMB.

Flaming colours on the radiant Cross, Chichester. MMB.

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