Historic Churches 2022

36 BCD SPECIAL REPORT ON HISTORIC CHURCHES 29TH ANNUAL EDITION CHURCH ART Jessica Tooze C HURCHES AND many of the UK’s cathedrals face a significant challenge addressing falling visitor numbers and the changing demands of the communities they serve. This change was brought into acute focus by the pandemic, when Anglican cathedrals in England saw a 75 per cent drop in visitors1, a fall in worshippers and an 80 per cent decrease in income from the use of their facilities. Breathing new life and meaning into the treasured spaces of Britain’s religious landscape demands significant thought, sensitivity and creativity, and two exhibitions provide examples of how this can be achieved. Art studio Luxmuralis is a collaborative team developing sound and light exhibitions, projecting large and intricate displays onto the walls and ceilings of cathedrals. Under the direction of artist Peter Walker, with music by David Harper, these shows of light, colour and sound lead visitors on a sensory tour through the interior of a cathedral, where multiple layers of art and music combine to create an immersive experience. Walker has held a lifelong interest in art, developing an interest in fine art at the age of 20 and beginning his artistic career in religious buildings as Artistic Director and Artist in Residence at Lichfield Cathedral, roles he held for seven years. At Lichfield he was allowed broad artistic licence giving him a ‘blank space’ to work in, and after creating several projects, including a bronze statue of St Chad, he began to tour other cathedrals. As well as the light shows created under Luxmuralis, Walker creates major installations as a solo project, including the majestic ‘peace doves’ at Liverpool Cathedral. Each building is given a tailored display, with artworks being re-curated to fit their individual dimensions and needs. At the time of interviewing, Luxmuralis had recently completed shows in St Albans, Salisbury and Exeter. Looking forward, Luxmuralis are planning to roll out the installations to churches in smaller spaces, and the studio receives requests on a weekly basis from churches asking them to come and visit. While sites can apply for sponsorship, the shows are funded largely by ticket sales, and with the large number of visitors who attend, each show has the potential to raise essential funding for the host site. While the projections extend into the far reaches of a cathedral’s space, there is no interference with the historic interior of the building, which is fully protected during setup and execution 1 http://bc-url.com/cathedral-finance ‘Heaven on Earth’ son et lumière at Salisbury Cathedral (Photo: Luxmuralis)