The Art of Worship – Chichester Cathedral

12th August 2022

Chichester Cathedral’s innovative art residency, The Art of Worship unveiled the fruits of its labour last week – a mosaic of Saint Dominic.

New artwork revealed at Chichester Cathedral.

Saint Dominic (1170 – 1221), was a Castilian Catholic priest and the founder of the Dominican Order. His apostolic spirituality has informed the mission and ministry of the cathedral and sits at the heart of its vision.

The artwork was produced by liturgical artist James Blackstone and is the culmination of the three-month-long artist residency, The Art of Worship that took place inside Chichester Cathedral earlier this year and saw a working studio set up in the nave.

During the residency, James worked alongside fellow liturgical artist Martin Earle within a custom-built studio. The project was developed with celebrated liturgical artist Aidan Hart.

All three draw on the same spiritual wells as the Cathedral’s first builders and employ the same techniques that defined Christian art prior to the Renaissance, including egg tempera, fresco, water gilding, carving, and hand-cut glass mosaic.

James said

“A central joy in working on Saint Dominic, in the studio alongside Martin Earle, was being immersed in the wonderful worshipping life of the Cathedral. 

“The music, the surrounding visual arts, and above all the people of the Cathedral community, together inspired and encouraged the whole process of imaging this great saint whose example irradiates the Church’s life.”

The mosaic of Saint Dominic is made of glass from Murano, Venice. The glass tesserae are cut and set into wet lime plaster as a working surface, before being set permanently into mortar.

Saint Dominic is shown with bare feet, carrying a crossed staff, signifying his itinerant life. He also carries a copy of the gospels from which he preached. The vestments he wears, for the Dominican order, were developed in his own lifetime.

Saint Richard (Bishop of Chichester, 1244 – 1253) was prepared for the priesthood by the Dominican Order in Orléans and St Dominic’s spirituality informed his ministry across the Diocese of Chichester (of which the Cathedral is the Mother Church, and encompasses the counties of East and West Sussex).

The Cathedral has drawn inspiration from Dominican life within its new vision, which is due to be published in September 2022.

The mosaic was unveiled on the Feast of St Dominic by the Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend Dr Warner, a keen supporter of the project

He said: 

St Dominic was one of the spiritual giants of the late medieval Church, and his influence still inspires us in Chichester today. James Blackstone’s mosaic of St Dominic captures the essence of Dominic as filled with light, radiating the truth of the mystery of God, illuminating the shadows of this passing age.”

The artwork was unveiled on Monday 8th August, on the Feast Day of Saint Dominic, with guest preacher Br Bede Mullens OP, a Dominican friar from Blackfriars, Oxford.