02Chichester Cathedral, Piper copy.jpg

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 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.

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

Symposium 3: Conversations between ancient and Modern
Saturday 2 March 2019, 10.30am – 4.30pm
Chichester Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace
Chaired by Nicola Coldstream

In this third Visual Communion symposium, we look at ways in which modern art and architecture can engage with ancient buildings and traditions in such a way that it enriches and enlivens both. A conversation between the two is not easy to establish, but the medieval Cathedral of Chichester is an outstanding exemplar of what can be achieved. Likewise at Worth Abbey, just 40 miles from Chichester, designed by Francis Pollen and consecrated in 1975, we find another exemplar. Here a centralised plan looks back to the simplicity of early Christianity. By placing the altar in the heart of the building, the plan encourages the congregation to gather round it, thereby giving the Eucharist service greater immediacy and presence. The furnishings at Worth also help modernise a deep, long-standing monastic aesthetic.

Venue: Sherborne Room, The Palace, Canon Lane, Chichester PO19 1PY

10.30am The Rt Rev’d Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester:
The Acts of the Apostles: priest as performer
11.15am Alan Powers, (architectural historian)
At the still centre: Francis Pollen at Worth Abbey

12pm Eucharist in the Cathedral (optional) followed by lunch and a short tour of the Cathedral (including Ex Voto, Alys Tomlinson’s prize-winning photography exhibited in the Cathedral)

1.30pm: Brother David Jarmy, (Worth Abbey)
Celebration & Contemplation: the monastic use of Worth Abbey Church
2.15pm A panel discussion on ‘Walter Hussey: Modernism within an ancient setting’
Presentations by and a panel discussion with
Frances Spalding (biographer of John Piper)
Simon Martin (Director of the Pallant House Gallery)

3.15pm Questions and discussion

3.45pm Tea

5pm An evening preview event for Ex Voto, Alys Tomlinson’s photography exhibition to which attendees are very welcome.

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

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: John Piper’s tapestry for Chichester Cathedral’s High Altar