Art speaks when words can fail

Art speaks when words can fail

Art speaks when words can fail

First published in Entertainments by

ACCLAIMED British artist Nicholas Pope’s work The Apostles Speaking in Tongues Lit By Their Own Lamps is to be installed at Salisbury Cathedral for Pentecost.

First shown at Tate Britain in 1996-97, The Apostles Speaking in Tongues Lit By Their Own Lamps is a grouping of 33 terracotta figures.

They represent a dramatic re-enactment of the events narrated in the New Testament when the Holy Spirit came among the Apostles in the ‘form of cloven fire’.

The Apostles created by Pope are individual figures.

Formed as hollow primitive vessels, each has a halo of beaten metal with a circular opening through which an oil lamp, when lit, produces a flame and light.

Pope said: "I originally conceived the Apostles as part of a larger project initiated in the early ’90s called the Oratory of Heavenly Space. It was intended as a non-denominational chapel, a place of contemplation without doctrine.

“The Apostles were to be the source of light in the chapel, guiding lights as it were, and took the form of abstract hollow figures, essentially human, flawed, rough and displaying character, elements of the grotesque and comical.

“When the lamps were lit for the first time I felt great,” added Pope. “I knew I'd made something good, something that mattered: selfcontained yet belonging to the world. They felt like the first part of a satisfactory answer addressing both belief and the lack of it.

“To be showing them now in the profound and resonant setting of Salisbury Cathedral, on the occasion of Pentecost, seems wholly fitting, and I hope that it will 'speak' to visitors both individually and universally."

Sarah Mullally, canon treasurer and chairman of Salisbury Cathedral's exhibition committee, said: "Art is often able to speak when words fail. The Christian narrative of Pentecost, although full of words, can seem difficult to comprehend. Nicholas Pope's The Apostles Speaking in Tongues Lit By Their Own Lamps captures the imagination and speaks to the mind and spirit.

“These terracotta figures provide a focus for both those looking for art and a sense of the spiritual, and offer something more."

The cathedral will be supporting the exhibition with a number of themed events including talks and discussions.

The Apostles Speaking in Tongues Lit By Their Own Lamps can be seen at Salisbury Cathedral from Sunday, June 8 until Sunday, August 3.

Recommended viewing times are Monday to Saturday, 9.30am to 5pm and
Sunday, noon to 4pm.

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