Antony Gormley is taking art back home, into the house of God. Flare II, Gormley’s latest wired figure has recently been installed into the most dramatic exemplar of church architecture in London – St Paul’s Cathedral. But the prodigal son that is Art, has been beckoned back under the pretence of an altered purpose. The cathedral has launched a programme of artworks so discussion can be reignited over the connection between faith and art.
There is more to this than the Church of England’s patronage backing contemporary art to giving it some 21st century kudos, and there is much more to it than them advertising their religion or using these as icon for worship. This is a celebration of creativity and the power of the visual to express the sublime – that which is ‘set or raise aloft, high up’ and beyond linguists – purely sentiment. In our post-modern age this may be aside from God, but it is the indescribable spiritual.
The sculpture is a delicate and dense wire mesh formed into a dramatic falling figure, or angel, within a cloud. It hangs suspended in a previously unopened stairwell, which could not be a better gallery space. Naturally lit, elegant curves of Sir Christopher Wren’s design, and a wealth of viewing points. The stairs perfectly frame and compliment its new piece of furniture.
The cathedral’s chancellor, in interview, compared faith to art, in that both require you to ask what else you see, and is there more to it. And so,“[t]he sublime is not so much what we’re going back to as where we’re coming from.” – J. L. Nancy.
‘The Sublime’ by Philip Shaw