Measuring to the Saint
St Thomas Way is a modern pilgrimage trail inspired by the medieval story of William Cragh. He was hung in Swansea in 1290, but miraculously came back to life. He was sure he’d been saved by Thomas, the late Bishop of Hereford and walked barefoot from Swansea to Hereford Cathedral to say ‘thank you’.
In those days, it was common practice to measure the bodies of the sick, needy or dead, by running a length of string or thread from the top of a person’s head to the tip of their toes. This length would be curled up and sent to the nearest cathedral or priory, where the monks would make it into a candle, light it, and then pray for the person’s eternal soul.
It was when he was being measured to the saint that William came back to life. The idea that something as humble as a simple piece of string might connect this world and the next, or be able to spark life into our very souls, inspired artist Michelle Rumney, to use the medieval practice of ‘Measuring to the Saint’ as a starting point to create an exhibition for the launch of St Thomas Way.
St Thomas Spirals
Telling the tale of William Cragh as she went, she measured over 250 people (and one great dane and a teddy bear) with string, then coiled up each string and created a huge artwork for Hereford Cathedral from them.
This spiral is made from the same medieval practice of measuring. It is the artist’s length – a simple act of measuring the body from head to foot in thread, then coiling the thread into a simple spiral. But bound to the board, the spiral is now many other potential things. It’s a spiral, a labyrinth, a journey – a person, a spirit, a life – a prayer, a meditation, a thought – a colour, a drop, a microcosm -a movement, a rhythm, a poem – a whole world in itself…