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 and Hymns Ancient & Modern

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 focuses on altars, their design over the centuries, their adornment and the context in which they sit. Speakers include 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 will also take us into the sphere of textile designs for alter cloths, frontals and vestments. Winchester Cathedral is an exemplary context in which to discover more at first hand and the day will include expert-led tours of new Eucharistic commissions within its historic existing fabric.

Morning session in the Taylor Selwyn Room, Education Centre
10.15am Coffee and registrations

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 a ceramic altar at 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)

1pm Lunch

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).

Final session in the Taylor Selwyn Room
3pm Tea
3.15pm Purpose, focus and delight: altar frontals and vestments
A discussion between Ayla Lepine (art historian) and Catherine Ogle (Dean of Winchester)
4pm Questions and discussion
5.30pm Evensong (optional)

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