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Giant white crosses remind St Paul's worshippers and visitors of the horrors of warfare

10 April 2014

The horrors of warfare and conflict, both past and present, are reflected in a striking new art installation at St Paul's.

As part of the Cathedral's commemoration to the Great War of 1914-18, two white cruciform sculptures, each over six metres high have been installed at the head of the nave.

The twin sculptures, by London artist Gerry Judah, recall in their shape and colour the thousands of war grave white crosses placed in the war cemeteries across the world. On the arms of the cross are intricate models of contemporary and historical settlements decimated by conflict – such as we see daily in our news today. 

The installations encourage reflection on the waste, pity and devastation of war, both 100 years ago and in our time, whilst also instilling a sense of hopefulness and a longing for peace.

The Reverend Canon Mark Oakley, Chancellor of St Paul’s, said: "Gerry Judah’s striking sculptures confront us with the reality of a War that saw thousands and thousands of young people from around the world buried with white crosses over their remains. They also provoke us into interrogating the present world and the landscapes we casually view on the news every day, scarred and agonised by military hate in the hearts and minds of those who survive.

"Gerry work ruptures the symmetry of the Cathedral just as war works breaks down human harmony. Placed where they are, we are invited to walk through them, and the failure and pain they represent, into a sacred space of hope where people in all our diversity are invited to come together to worship, to respect and to learn from each other. It is a work that starkly asks of us what it must now mean for us to be loyal to our shared future.”

Gerry Judah, whose work has been displayed all over the world, added: "It is a great honour to have been selected to create these two new works as part of the World War I commemorations at St Paul’s Cathedral, a building that has historically come to symbolise the triumph of hope and redemption in the face of conflict. These sculptures are intended to appeal to our feelings of pity and charity, as well as filling us with hope for the future, which, I feel, is one of the principal purposes of a great place of worship, contemplation and meditation such as St Paul’s."

The sculptures are available to view during regular visitor hours.
All those attending services at the Cathedral will also be able to see the installation.

The two crosses break up the grand vista to the Cathedral's east end

The two crosses break up the grand vista to the Cathedral's east end   Enlarge

The crosses sit underneath Wren's great dome

The crosses sit underneath Wren's great dome   Enlarge