Visual Communion


Visual Communion

St Cuthbert's Chapel High Altar.jpg

St Cuthbert's Chapel, Ushaw*, designed by Augustus Pugin in 1847

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, Coventry in Autumn 2018; Chichester and Winchester in Spring 2019; and culminating in a major two day conference in London in November 2019 at which Rowan Williams will give a keynote lecture.

Symposium 1: Medieval mastery to Pugin
7 & 8 September 2018
Ushaw College and Durham Cathedral
Chaired by Ben Quash and David Stancliffe

Friday Programme
Begins at 1.30pm with an introductory talk at Durham Cathedral by the Rt Revd David Stancliffe as well as tailored tours of Durham Cathedral's 'Open Treasure' exhibition and University College Chapels.
A bus will take delegates to Ushaw* College at 4pm where there will be a Service of Benediction in St Cuthbert's Chapel and a chance to view the College's other chapels.
6pm Rosemary Hill, author of God's architect: Pugin and the Buliding of Romantic Britain will give a pre-dinner lecture: ‘The brightness of returning glory’: Pugin and the revival of Catholic architecture.
Overnight accommodation is available to book at Ushaw.

Saturday Programme
At Ushaw: 11am Keynote lecture: Eucharist, Matter, Transformation
Dr David Grumett, author of Material Eucharist, offers an exploration of how the art of the Eucharist sustains and renews bodies, culture and the whole world.
12pm Claire Marsland, Curator at Ushaw College:
Seeing the Sacraments in Ushaw’s collection
At Durham Cathedral: 2pm Jan Graffius, Curator of the Old Chapel Museum at Stonyhurst College:
The Sacred Bleeding Host of Dijon: beholding the Eucharist in art through the Stonyhurst College Collections.
3pm Simon Oliver, Van Mildaert Professor of Divinity at Durham University and Residentiary Canon at Durham Cathedral

The symposium will end with a Eucharist celebrated in the Galilee Chapel of Durham Cathedral at 4.30 on Saturday 8 September.

*Ushaw opened as a college for training Catholic priests in 1808 and carried on that role until 2011. Its extensive complex of chapels and meeting rooms, many of which were designed by Edward and Augustus Pugin, are exuberantly decorated and are home to an exceptional collection of artefacts as well as an internationally significant archive and early books collection.

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

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’
Judi Loach, Architectural and cultural historian, Chair of Docomomo UK:
On the reordering of the Sanctuary as the site of the Eucharist, in the wake of the Liturgical Movement and with particular reference to the architectural designs of George Pace
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
Louise Campbell, Art historian and author of Coventry Cathedral (OUP, 1996):
In the sanctuary: Geoffrey Clarke's altar set for Coventry in its context

There will also be 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. A Litany in the Ruins and Eucharist in the Cathedral will be held before lunch.

Further symposia will be held in Chichester on 2 March 2019 and Winchester on 18 May 2019 culminating in conference in London 29/30 November at which Rowan Williams will give a keynote lecture.

Ticket prices, bookings and full programmes will be available in the next couple of weeks.



Banner image: Hans Coper, Candlesticks for Coventry Cathedral