Lent Artist 2020 at Southwark Cathedral

Lent Artist 2020 at Southwark Cathedral

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the nave of Southwark Cathedral showing the vaulted ceiling

I’m so pleased to announce that I’ve been invited to create next year’s Lent Art Installation for Southwark Cathedral. Last week I met with Rose Harding, Southwark’s Development Director, and the Dean – the Very Reverend Andrew Nunn, to approve my proposal for veiling the altar and The Great Screen for 40 days.

As this in-depth article on the Public Monuments & Sculpture Association’s website describes:

“Contemporary art is given an entirely new aspect in an ambitious programme currently running at London’s Southwark Cathedral. Every year a monumental sculpture of museum quality is installed for the Cathedral’s Lent Art Programme. Running from Shrove Tuesday to Good Friday, each successive installation is a major undertaking to bring contemporary art to the spiritual journey of Lent… Southwark’s Lent Art Programme has become a warmly anticipated part of the Cathedral’s calendar.”

Becket 2020

2020 is the year to mark Thomas Becket’s pilgrimage – he preached his very last sermon at Southwark Cathedral, he then set off for Canterbury. He was murdered when he arrived and his story became legendary. His route to Canterbury is also well trodden – who knows how many thousands of people have walked it in the 850 years since his death? I’ll be including references to the route in the piece.

I’m also planning to invite pilgrims to be part of this work, using the medieval practice of Measuring to the Saint that I found during my research for St Thomas Way in Hereford Cathedral last year. Each person will be measured from head to toe with a length of string and those lengths will form the raw materials for the piece.

Lighting The Pilgrims Way

Marion Marples, who put my name forward for the installation after seeing my work in Hereford Cathedral, was a volunteer at Southwark and was due to lead a pilgrimage herself to Canterbury in May. Sadly though, Marion died unexpectedly in April so she didn’t lead the pilgrimage and I never got to meet her to thank her. The Cathedral staff were devastated – Marion was an integral part of life at the Cathedral and loved by many. So, I’m also setting out to make at least one ‘Measured to the Saint’ candle the height of an actual person and light it in Marion’s memory during Lent. I have no idea how to do this – medieval candle technology is somewhat rare these days – but I’m looking forward to finding out.


“Southwark Cathedral’s art programme is a quietly ambitious treasure in the heart of London. The installations to date have been considered and sensitive, responding to the beauty and history of the Cathedral, but retaining their power as individual works of sculpture.”
Kirsten Dunne, Senior Cultural Strategist, The Greater London Authority

Past installations have been:

  • 2012 Die Harder by David Mach
  • 2013 Christ Rests by Nic Fiddian Green
  • 2014 40 Days by Angela Wright
  • 2014 Another Hour by Edmund de Waal
  • 2015 within the light by Angela Glajcar
  • 2016 Earthworks by Peter Burke
  • 2017 corrodere by Liz Harrison
  • 2018 ‘Doubt’ by Susie MacMurray (one of my favourite pieces)
  • 2019 Footfall by Alison Clarke

Dr. Stephen Shaw from London Metropolitan University: “Since 2012, the Lent installations have demonstrated the extraordinary power of contemporary visual art to connect with people’s lives: big, bold sculptural pieces in metal, ceramic, wood, wool, glass, and so on. In doing so, they transform the way we see and take in the historic nave and retro choir through encounters with space, place and objects that can only be experienced by going there and walking around the Cathedral floor.

Read more about the Lent Art Installations:

PMSA Newsletter – Southwark Cathedral Lent Art Installations

Lent Artist 2020 at Southwark Cathedral was last modified: July 22nd, 2019 by Michelle Rumney

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