jane witheridge

public art projects

Exeter Cathedral Banners

'moving the sun' - February 2000

Exeter Cathedral Banners

 

 

"I saw there, bound up by love into a single volume, all the leaves scattered through the universe"
Dante - The Divine Comedy

The final lines of Dante's Divine Comedy were the inspiration for this magnificent project, intended not only as a celebration, but also as a "pause for thought" as we entered the third millennium.

"Moving the Sun" was a partnership beween many people: The Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral, the Steering Committee led by project co-ordinator Viola Jones, the Diocesan Education Department, the Childrens and Young People's Committee and Devon Curriculum Services.

It was Phil Creek, Art Advisor for Devon Curriculum Services, who asked me to become involved in the project.

My role was to design and supervise the making of 13 banners.

Monumental in size and striding the length of the Cathedral nave, the banners, at 10 metres in length, reached high towards the Cathedral vaulted ceiling.

The making of the banners took place during an intensive residency, and over 100 childrren from 45 schools helped. Amongst pots of bubbling olten wax, in scenes more reminiscent of Dante's inferno than the Divine Comedy, the banners were crafted. We laboured from dawn to dusk, until finally, 2 weeks later, we emerged, blinking into the sun, with the treasure!

 

Children with the Banners at Beaford

 

My deepest thanks to Phil Creek and Chris Whiteman for their support and inspiration.

 

Children at work in Exeter CathedralBanners in front of the Organ

 

Quotes from the Visitors' Book

A few (yes, really) quotations from the Visitors' Book, and a subsequent letter received:

Colour, joy, optimism, deep thought. An amazing exhibition which deserves a nationally wide audience.

What an uplifting experience - words fail - I am unable to express the emotions running through me.

It is so wonderful it made me cry.

This is what the Cathedral was built for - colour - movement - sound. The exhibition should have been on for longer and deserves National acclaim. The carnival atmosphere of the Cathedral in Medieval times has re-emerged - stunning.

I have been to The Louvre in Paris. I have been to The Tate. But I've never seen anything as inspiring and beautiful as this. Thank you.

Wow! There are so many people walking around and smiling.

THE Millenium Experience.

Absoloutely breathtaking. Please leave the banners in situ for as long as possible!

' Prepare to be stunned ' Western Morning News.

Thank you Exeter Cathedral for the brightest jewel of the Millenium Experience.

Unbelievable! - this is what spirituality is all about.

Congratulations - a most wonderful exhibition - this has been a profound experience for many people - thank you.
If you want your spirits lifted this is the place to come.

I just can't believe what I have seen.

Superb, please keep the banners up all year.

Visited after seeing it on the T.V. The real thing was well worth the journey from Bridport.

Far better than the Millenium Dome.

I love it ! - and I think the Cathedral does too!

Exceptional.

Wonderful, uplifting. What an experience!

Fairly cheered me up - thanks.

Stunning, imaginative, thought provoking.

The Cathedral is a wonderful building - the best in the country - but unbelievably, this has added a fantastic new dimension. Breathtaking and uplifting.

The Cathedral is ALIVE.

The exhibition should be transported lock, stock and barrel to the Dome. This is truly a Millenium experience to be excited about and proud of.

Hunky Dory ! The massive lion banner was ace.

Puts the Dome to shame.

Everything is beautiful and inspiring but the banners in particular are breathtaking. Please keep them up all the time, they're amazing.

Quite wonderful, it takes my breath away.

An inspirational exhibition. The children were clearly allowed to be open and open themselves. The banners should stay in the Cathedral - such a profusion of colour gladdens the heart and the mind.

True art, nothing like what is shown in many galleries.

It's better than my wildest dreams.

The banners are spectacular.

A truly amazing hour of beauty - thank you.

This is a reminder of how rich is the imagination and how creative is an imaginative response.

One of the most exciting exhibitions I have seen. Congratulations to all who have been involved. The colour, ingenuity and buzz and thoughtfulness gives me hope for the years ahead.

Beyond all expectations.

As a participating school, we brought the top two classes to visit the exhibition and I don't think any of us could have anticipated the impact that the exhibition would have.

As we entered the Cathedral, the effect was breathtaking. All of our children were totally engrossed and we had to pull them away when it was time to eat and leave. They are still talking ( and buzzing ) about the exhibition and the Cathedral. I am sure we will have to bring them back to explore the cathedral itself.

Glorious and very moving...
... a wonderful celebration of love and life today...

If only a tiny proportion of the thought, prayer and creativity that has been living here were to stay alive in our hearts, the world would be changed considerably for the better.

 

© 2016
Jane Witheridge
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