ADVENT OF ARCHANGELS - NEW 'ANGEL HEADS' INSTALLATION BY EMILY YOUNG AT SALISBURY CATHEDRALIssued Friday 21st November 2008
Installation ends on 9th February 2009
Emily Young, one of Britain’s greatest contemporary sculptors, has brought seven and a half newly sculpted Angel Heads to Salisbury Cathedral from 20 November 2008 to 8 February 2009 as the final and most spectacular temporary art installation celebrating the iconic building’s 750th anniversary. Taking her inspiration from the word ‘angel’ and from the architecture of the Cathedral itself, these heads emit a profound spirituality, humanity and optimism.
The Angel Heads, one for each century of the Cathedral’s history, have been installed in three different locations. All are sculpted from the same Purbeck stone as the Cathedral itself, seven in Purbeck freestone and the small ‘half’ head in blue Purbeck marble. The expressions on the individual faces reveal a sense of deep contemplation which develop from the stone itself as Young works with the surface scars, revealing the ancient beauty created by the elements over unimaginable time scales. There is also a musical sound scape, composed by Arthur Jeffes, inspired by the sounds of the Cathedral and its surroundings. This can be heard at specific times each day.
The four largest heads, up to one metre square and weighing almost a ton, are positioned in the main nave surrounding and reflecting in the much celebrated new living water font by William Pye. One smaller head and the blue ‘half’ head are situated in the Trinity Chapel adjacent to the blue Purbeck marble pillar. The remaining two stand illuminated in the cloisters looking towards the Cathedral’s soaring spire.
Canon Treasurer Mark Bonney said, “It is wonderful to see Emily Young’s new and truly powerful Angel Head sculptures as the faces appear to emerge from the stones. Positioned on plinths, you meet them face to face. They reflect that side of God which is intimate yet awesome, reassuring yet challenging. Their calm physical presence and great beauty is extraordinarily moving. Already they look quite at home here, their weathered hues perfectly complementing the cathedral’s own patina of Purbeck stone.”
Young, who uses traditional carving skills, is described as having ‘inherited the mantle as Britain’s greatest female stone sculptor from Dame Barbara Hepworth’. Her work has featured in public and private collections all over the world, and she has been working on these sculptures for the past year and a half. “I use the word ‘angel’ to describe the stone heads I make, and the discs too, because in its original form the word simply meant ‘messenger from the heavens to man.”
She continued, “I’m delighted at the way they retain their immense presence, which is of course enhanced by the grandeur of their surroundings. They were created for this place and it is deeply satisfying to see them here at last. These stone carvings celebrate and contemplate what and where we are, inhabitants of a rare and beautiful extraordinary planet. They can be seen as embodiments of humankind’s highest aspirations; the archangel traditionally embodied the projected values of communities, manifesting as messengers from the heavens. Archangels can be described in a wide variety of ways, and have many names. There are many extraordinary stories of their activities, purposes and origins - many apocryphal - in the histories of Christaianity, Judaism and Islaam. But for present day humankind they can still carry for us, symbolically, the most profound of our emotional, spiritual and even instinctual experiences, of suffering and its alleviation, of joy and pain, all the lessons of life.
Interesting extra information:
The four Archangels around the font are: (NW) Uriel (NE) Michael (SE) Gabriel (SW) Raphael.
This is Emily Young’s second collaboration with the Cathedral following the installation of her 2004 Moon Disc sculpture which stands in The Close. The Disc has been resited within The Close this week.
Emily Young was born in London into a family of writers, artists and politicians. She spent her youth between London, Rome, and Wiltshire. As a young woman, in the late sixties and early 70's, she travelled widely, living in the USA, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, France and Italy, and visiting Africa, South America and the Middle East. In the 70's and 80's Emily Young worked with the late Simon Jeffes and the Penguin Café Orchestra. Emily Young worked and exhibited as a painter, until the 80's, when she began carving stone. Since then she has worked almost exclusively in stone, and has exhibited widely. Her work is in collections all over the world. She lives and works in London and Italy. In February 2009 The Fine Art Society of New Bond Street, London will be holding an exhibition of recent stone carvings by Emily Young.
What critics say about Emily Young’s work:
“Emily Young is remarkable in that she now stands quite alone in her field, not just as the pre-eminent stone-carver of her generation, but as virtually the only sculptor of her kind at all, a true carver working with figurative imagery, of any real and sustained distinction.” FINANCIAL TIMES
“Emily Young has inherited the mantle as Britain’s greatest female stone sculptor from Dame Barbara Hepworth” DAILY TELEGRAPH
Arthur Jeffes (MA Cantab, MMus) studied at Cambridge and Goldsmiths, and works in Somerset and London. His work varies between modern minimalist chamber music and electro-acoustic sound installations. Recent work has included musical projects for the British Museum (Hadrian) and an extended collaboration with world-renowned DJ Damian Lazarus.