Throughout its history, art in St Paul's Cathedral has inspired and illuminated the Christian faith for those who visit, and provided a focus for reflection, meditation and contemplation.
Paul’s Cathedral is home to a spectacular array of art; from the delicate
carvings of Grinling Gibbons in the quire to Sir James Thornhill's dome murals,
as well as the Victorian mosaics and Henry Moore's Mother and Child: Hood. The St Paul's Cathedral Visual Arts
Programme seeks to explore the encounter between art and faith, offering a
powerful and challenging context with which artists can engage. In recent
times, a series of interventions by artists including Rebecca Horn, Yoko Ono,
Antony Gormley and Bill Viola have further enriched the daily pattern of
worship in the Cathedral.
Perspectives - John Pawson (September 2011 - mid January 2012)
As part of the Cathedral's tercentenary celebrations, the London Design Festival invited John Pawson to present a remarkable installation which referenced Sir Christopher Wren's desire that his buildings should have a scientific purpose. The installation, entitled Perspectives, designed in collaboration with Swarovski Crystal Palace, was located within the Geometric Staircase.There was a good precedent for this idea of using the architecture as an optical instrument, since Sir Christopher Wren used a similar chamber in The Monument as an observatory.
The intention was to turn this extraordinary spatial volume into its own viewing device. The installation was a concave Swarovski crystal meniscus - the largest commissionable lens – which was located at the bottom of the stairwell. This lens sat on a much larger reflective surface - the upper plane of a specially fabricated metal hemisphere (1,200mm in diameter and 675mm in height). A 2m wide spherical convex mirror was suspended in the tower's cupola, directly over the hemisphere. Acting in concert, these optical devices resulted in a composite image of the view up through the tower and an elevated downward perspective appearing to visitors gathered round the hemisphere.
Mannheim Altarpiece - Mark Alexander (Summer 2010)
St Paul's chose two new works by the British artist Mark Alexander to be hung either side of the nave in summer 2010.
Both entitled Red Mannheim, Alexander's large red silkscreens were inspired by the Mannheim Cathedral altarpiece (1739-41), which was damaged by bombing in the Second World War. The original sculpture depicts Christ on the cross, surrounded by a familiar retinue of mourners. Rendered in splendid giltwood, with Christ's wracked body sculpted in relief, and the flourishes of flora and incandescent rays from heaven, this masterpiece of the German Rococo is an object of ravishing beauty and intense piety.
Flare II - Anthony Gormley (February - November 2010)
Flare II, a dramatic sculpture by Antony Gormley, was installed in the Geometric Staircase in April 2010.
The Question mark Inside - Martin Firrell (November 2008)
For one week, Britain's most famous Cathedral became a lighthouse of text and light projections on the capital's skyline. Firrell's text was based on blog contributions from members of the public, interviews conducted by the artist with a range the UK's most respected thinkers from the Dean of St Paul's to the humanist A C Grayling, along with the artist's own observations.
The project sought to answer the question: 'what are the things that make modern life meaningful and what does St Paul's mean in that contemporary context?'
Perspectives - John Pawson Enlarge
Mannheim Altarpiece - Mark Alexander Enlarge
Flare II - Anthony Gormley Enlarge
The Question Mark Inside - Martin Firrell Enlarge