Visual Communion


Visual Communion


Detail of Tablets of the Word, carved by Ralph Beyer, Coventry Cathedral, 1962

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 two-day 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 will take place in Durham and Coventry in Autumn 2018; Chichester and Winchester in Spring 2019; and culminating in a major conference in London on 29 November 2019 at which Rowan Williams will give a keynote lecture.

Download a flyer here.

Kindly supported by the Lady Peel Trust and Hymns Ancient & Modern

Symposium 2: The Modern Era
Saturday 10 November 2018, 10.30am – 5pm
Coventry Cathedral, Chapter House
Chaired by Christopher Irvine and Frances Spalding

10.45am The Very Rev'd John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry:
The Recovery of the Offertory; An exploration of the materiality of the offertory at the Eucharist as the opportunity to ‘present our souls and bodies as a living sacrifice’

11.15am Judi Loach, Architectural and cultural historian, Chair of Docomomo UK:
George Pace: designing sanctuaries to renew Eucharistic celebration

A Litany in the Ruins and Eucharist in the Cathedral will be held before lunch (optional).

1.45pm: The Role of Vestments: a display and examination of John Piper’s sets of vestments for the modern Coventry Cathedral, for each season within the Church Year, led by Mary Sleigh, embroiderer and textile expert and advisor to Coventry Cathedral.

2.15pm Louise Campbell, Art historian and author of Coventry Cathedral (OUP, 1996):
In the sanctuary: Geoffrey Clarke's altar set for Coventry in its context

2.45pm Christopher Irvine, Teaching Fellow at St Augustine’s College of Theology:
The Paintings of Ceri Richards – the sacramental body in colour and form and the role of the reredos in relation to the Eucharist

Ends with tea and an optional 4pm Sung Evensong in the Cathedral

Download the programme as a pdf.

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Further symposia will be held in Chichester on 2 March 2019 and Winchester on 18 May 2019 culminating in a conference in London on 29 November at which Rowan Williams will give a keynote lecture.


Banner image: Hans Coper, Candlesticks for Coventry Cathedral