New sculpture exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral

04th March 2014

Salisbury Cathedral is the iconic location for an amazing sculpture exhibition by John Maine RA which can be seen from 8 March until 23 July. 

Sanctuary comprises a number of stone installations in the Close and a procession of granite carvings in the cloisters with a stack of twenty-five granite discs forming a column in the garth. A sequence of incised stone panels, based on the floor patterns of the Sacrarium and Shrine of Westminster Abbey, will be seen in and around the Morning Chapel.

The exhibition encourages us to engage with the many meanings and implications of ‘sanctuary’, not least as a place of safety and refuge. Here there are contained areas creating focus within the larger sanctuary of the Cathedral Close, mysterious places created for reflection and contemplation.

Sanctuary is curated by Jacquiline Creswell, Visual Arts Advisor at the Cathedral. The concept was triggered when she saw John Maine’s stone sculpture ‘After Cosmati’ at the Royal Academy. “I was reminded of the sense of calm reverence I encountered while walking amongst the stones at Avebury Ring and Stonehenge – there is a path that draws you in, through and around, inviting the visitor to stay and engage with the setting. I felt there was a resonance and connection with the stone and geometry of the Cathedral. In the open grounds here the installation ‘After Cosmati’ will take on yet another transformation, offering a labyrinth like experience – an encounter with stone forms, some partially shaped and others finely carved. The installations which comprise the Sanctuary exhibition have a strong physical presence and their weight and density allows for physical engagement, to sit on or just to touch. Sanctuary also explores the ways that sculpture can respond to changes of scale and create a feeling of energy alongside a sense of stillness.”

Sarah Mullally, Canon Treasurer and Chairman of the Cathedral’s Exhibitions Committee, said “Salisbury Cathedral is testament to the beauty of stone both in its strength and its ability to portray detail. The crafts men and women who built this wonderful building did so to enable us to journey with them to the heavens. John Maine’s sculptures both complement and provide a contrast to the stone of the Cathedral and the landscape of the Cathedral Close. The pieces seek to bring us on a journey not just heaven wards but, like any good labyrinth, inwards; quieting the mind and stilling the heart. Maybe it is here that we encounter sanctuary in a busy world.”

John Maine said, “The unique setting of Salisbury Cathedral, linked distantly to Old Sarum and the great archaeological sites of the Wiltshire landscape beyond, has always been an area of interest for me. The opportunity to show work here is a significant step in understanding how sculpture can become part of a spiritual place.”

The Cathedral will be running a full programme of events to support the exhibition including workshops, talks and discussions. For further information on the supporting programme please call 01722 555124 or visit the cathedral website.