Historic Churches 2022

BCD SPECIAL REPORT ON HISTORIC CHURCHES 29TH ANNUAL EDITION 37 ‘Space, the Universe and Everything’ son et lumière at Liverpool Cathedral 2022 (Photo: Luxmuralis) of the exhibit. No new fixings are made into historic fabric, and no materials are used that would leave harmful residues on the stonework or surfaces. Historically, churches and cathedrals have always been used for the display of art, including the work of the finest craftspeople and artists of their period. The colour and light of Luxmuralis Peace Doves installation by sculptor Peter Walker at Liverpool Cathedral (Photo: G Jones) exhibitions are intended both as a modern-day tribute and historic link back to the painted ceilings and stained-glass windows of churches and cathedrals as they would have been prior to the Reformation. Prior to modern technology and mass literacy, congregations throughout history revered and relied on the images and stories found in the stained glass and painted images of their local churches. Evoking these medieval forms of messaging are what Walker calls ‘re- animation’: re-animating the space and its architecture in a contemporary way to say something about the world we live in. Subjects of the exhibits include space exploration, the fragility of the planet, science and the Renaissance. Exeter Cathedral’s exhibit, entitled simply ‘Life’ included illuminated texts by Charles Darwin and his grandfather Erasmus, with passages from the Origin of Species prominently displayed on the far nave wall. Links to science and the natural world in a religious space, according to Walker, reflect the increasing talk in cathedrals around nature and sustainability, and the importance of these messages and stories being told. This has the potential to gift these historic spaces with a new purpose of building and supporting links and understanding between their communities and the world we inhabit. Such a purpose is precisely the aim of the Luxmuralis project and one which could help sustain the meaning of these buildings as the needs and desires of their respective communities evolve. Smaller churches can also see a major benefit to hosting art exhibitions, given the clear opportunity to draw numbers and encourage a diverse mix of visitors across age and faith groups. St John the Baptist Church in Shepherd’s Bush hosted the Museum of the Moon exhibit in August 2021. Part of the Kensington and Chelsea Festival, the event saw the Grade I listed site welcoming 18,000 visitors over the 13 days the exhibit was in place. While the event was free to attend, over £4,000 was raised in donations. The Museum of the Moon exhibit was created by artist Luke Jerram as an internally lit spherical sculpture of the moon, measuring seven metres in diameter. The sculpture displays NASA imagery of the lunar surface at 120dpi, with an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre representing 5km of the moon’s surface. The exhibit is accompanied by surround sound melodies composed by Dan Jones, who has worked with Jerram for over 15 years. Jerram feels that the surround