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English Cathedrals Get Creative

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

An eclectic range of exhibitions across country aimed at catering to pent-up thirst for art after lockdown.

This summer, art installations in the nation's cathedrals will be particularly impressive. “It’s a good chance to get alongside our visitors and the things that excite their imagination, what they hope for and believe in,” said the Very Rev Adrian Dorber, the chair of the Association of English Cathedrals.

Big installations “look supremely good in the uncluttered space and beautiful settings of our cathedrals”. And after repeated lockdowns, there was a “certain pent up-ness”, a thirst for art and exhibitions, he added.

At the 800-year-old Lichfield Cathedral, where Dorber is dean, an immersive light and sound installation celebrating science and scientists will open this month. The Great Exhibition: Science is “a fun, engaging and awe-inspiring celebration of all that science has achieved throughout history”, said Dorber.

Meanwhile, Luke Jerram’s Moon, featuring detailed Nasa imagery of the lunar surface, is on a tour. It will be displayed at Bristol Cathedral in the second half of August, and later in the year at Wells Cathedral and Bath Abbey. The artist’s Gaia installation, a 7-metre (23ft) replica of Earth from an astronaut’s perspective. It looks fabulous in any cathedral's cavernous internal space.

Norwich Cathedral is hosting Dippy, the Natural History Museum’s 26m Diplodocus cast, until the end of October. Dippy is sharing the nave with clergy, choristers and worshippers during services in the nine-century-old cathedral.

Peace Doves, an installation at Liverpool Cathedral by Peter Walker, features about 18,000 paper doves suspended on 15.5 miles of ribbon from the cathedral roof, accompanied by a soundscape from the composer David Harper.

In Exeter, Density and Lightness features 75 sculptures from 24 artists inside and outside the cathedral, made from stone, wood, ceramic, bronze, plaster and glass. Alongside the exhibition are workshops, dance performances and art tours.

In Sheffield, the cathedral is celebrating the city’s steel heritage with The Foundry, an exhibition that incorporates Pathé archive film footage and contemporary steel artwork.

So, wherever you live in England, there should be an option within reasonable striking distance.


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