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St Peter & St Paul Farningham

Word Cross

copper coated steel wire  
230 x 182 cm 

Notes on this work

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Word Cross in St Peter & St Paul Farningham

Having turned to sculpture in the mid nineties I devised a scheme of writing in wire. The principal work in this form was a group of three crosses (that of Jesus flanked by the good and bad thieves) each of which told its story in words. 

This large installation, Golgotha (of which this cross forms the centre section) was a purer attempt to mirror the Dream of the Rood and to embody the word as both the genetic impulse of the universe and of its salvation. The opening of Genesis now seems have its anagogical (rather than literal or allegorical) accuracy confirmed in the expression of our genome as a language. In the beginning was the code.

One of the strange aspects of an artist’s job is that most of the time you are doing something no one has asked you to do; things that, since they do not as yet exist, no one could ask you to do. Sometimes they may of course be things that no one will ever require you to have done. It is a chancy life of uncontingent imperatives.

I first exhibited this Word Cross at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition of 1997. Caroline Gould, a parishioner of Farningham, a small village in Kent, showed a great interest in securing it for her church, even though it is an expensive and doctrinally controversial object. I can only too readily imagine what efforts of planning and persuasion led, after many months of discussion, to its eventual acquisition in 2011. There was just time for me to have it shipped back from New York where it had been on show, and delivered to Farningham church on the Thursday of Easter Week. Luckily the installation (at a spot we had worked out together with the help of paper models) could be effected in the few hours before the appropriate Good Friday service for its dedication. The picture shows that it will soon look as if, simultaneously modern and medieval, it has always been there.  At a time when the artworld has become a bloated thing like a celebrity based branch of the stock exchange, it is very satisfying to make a real and seriously thoughtful transaction.

They also serve that only stand and wait...