Visual Communion


Visual Communion


The Holy Sepulchre Chapel, Winchester Cathedral; frontal by Alice Kettle

A series of symposia on the art, architecture and craft of the Eucharist

The Eucharist (Mass or Holy Communion) is the central act of worship in Christian liturgy, offering thanksgiving, praise and sacrifice. This series of symposia explores the Eucharist in relation to art, architecture and craft and asks how the visual arts have shaped and are shaped by the Eucharist.

Each symposium will act as a ‘sounding’, taking place in a different regional centre and feeding into a conference in London in November 2019.  The symposia will draw upon collections of ecclesiastical art and design as well as the architecture of sanctuaries and chapels set aside for the celebration of the Eucharist. There will also be rare opportunities to handle and view closely different materials and media, including textiles, silverware, sculpture, painting and furniture.

Visual Communion will demonstrate the crucial importance of the visual arts in the rich heritage of Christian sacramental liturgy and theology, opening up new ways of seeing art made and used for the glory of God.

The symposia have taken place in Durham, Coventry and Chichester and the fourth will take place in Winchester in May 2019; the programme culminates in a major conference in London on 29 November 2019 at which Rowan Williams will give a keynote lecture.

Kindly supported by the Lady Peel Trust, the Gibbs Trust, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the Hockerill Educational Foundation and Hymns Ancient & Modern

Final symposium: Friday 29 November, 2 – 8pm
at the Wallace Collection, London
with keynote by Rowan Williams

This closing event will draw together the diversity of visual culture explored in the four preceding symposia and showcase the outstanding body of artistic endeavour that has been shaped by this central Christian tradition. Lectures include Bridget Heal on art and the Eucharist in the German Reformation and Deborah Lewer on contemporary altarpieces. A panel chaired by Ben Quash will discuss ‘Art and Sacrament: making and doing’ with panellists Lida Kindersley, Gill Hedley and Tina Beattie. Rowan Williams will give the closing lecture, chaired by Tom O’Loughlin, and the proceedings will be followed by a drinks reception.

To book tickets please select quantity below and click ‘add to cart’. You then need to click on the shopping trolley icon in the top right hand corner of the page.

Visual Communion London
Add To Cart

Symposium 4 Altars: Texture and Tradition
Saturday 18 May 2019, 10.30am – 4.30pm
Winchester Cathedral Education Centre and Cathedral
Chaired by Roly Riem

This fourth Visual Communion symposium focused on altars, their design over the centuries, their adornment and the context in which they sit. Speakers included those who have experience of designing altars as well as clergy who have led the commissioning process for recent altars made for reordered church spaces. Our discussions also took us into the sphere of textile designs for altar cloths, frontals and vestments. Winchester Cathedral is an exemplary context in which to discover more at first hand and the day included expert-led tours of new Eucharistic commissions within its historic existing fabric.

10.30am Luke Hughes (architectural historian and, for 40 years, specialist designer of furniture for buildings of worship)
Altars – two millennia of shifting perceptions: meaning, memory, and the migration of ideals
11.45am Contemporary altars: church leaders and artists
Gianni Notarianni OSA and Julian Stair on making an altar for St Augustine’s Church Hammersmith
George Guiver CR and Nicholas Mynheer on commissioning two new altars for the Chapel at the Community of the Resurrection (Mirfield College

1.45pm A tour of the Cathedral including the Epiphany Chapel for which a new altar frontal is being commissioned; the High Altar’s tapestry by Maggi Hambling; Alice Kettle’s frontal in the Holy Sepulchre Chapel; and the St Alphege Chapel, reordered with stone altar and silverware in 2011 and furniture by Luke Hughes with Sophie Hacker (artist and Arts Advisor to Winchester Cathedral, and trustee of A+C).

3.15pm Purpose, focus and delight: altar frontals and vestments
A discussion between Ayla Lepine (art historian) and Catherine Ogle (Dean of Winchester)


Banner image: St Augustine’s Hammersmith: Corona by Roz Barr Architects and sanctuary lettering by John Morgan