A light and music spectacular is taking place at Salisbury Cathedral during the final week of the UN Climate Summit (COP26), a timely celebration of the wonders of Heaven and Earth.
Sarum Lights: Heaven and Earth, created by artist Peter Walker and composer David Harper of Luxmuralis, opens on Tuesday 9 November and runs until Saturday 13 November.
As dusk falls, visitors are invited to make their way around an astonishing series of abstract displays that transport them from sunrise to sunset, immersed in the beauty of planet earth and the universe.
Inspired by a passage in Genesis, the 40-minute display takes as its starting point the moment when God invites Abraham to look up at the stars and reflect on his legacy:
“He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.” Genesis 15.5
Using sound and music to express the awe that Abraham must have felt looking up into the night sky, the Luxmuralis team hope to capture the viewer’s imagination, using different light and music spaces created on the West Front, in the Cloisters and in the Cathedral itself to remind us what an amazing world we live in.
Peter Walker Artistic Director of Luxmuralis said:
“The show reimagines life on our planet in a single 24-hour period and I hope that, whilst immersed in the light and sound, people will also find the space to reflect on their own lives, human existence and the creation of the earth and our universe. I hope it also provokes some thoughts about the ecology and the beauty of the world around us, and our impact on it.”
Canon Robert Titley, Canon Treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral and who leads the Cathedral’s visual arts programme:
“As the nations of the world gather for November’s climate summit in Glasgow, the ravishing sights and sounds of Sarum Lights show us what is at stake. Our universe is gloriously bigger than we can comprehend, and our corner of it is equally glorious – but also fragile. We hope visitors to this ancient wonder of a building will come away from Heaven and Earth wondering at God’s creation and wanting to care for it better.”
Within the light spectacular a community project and installation in the North Transept explores the role we can all play in protecting the earth. Based around Edward Lorenz’s butterfly effect – the theory that small things can create a major effect - an installation of butterflies provides a visual representation of our individual impact on our planet. Ahead of and even during the show, community groups and individuals can make butterflies on which they write their pledges to protect our earth and hopes for the future. These will be hung in an ever-growing cloud high above the North Transept, visible as visitors enter the Cathedral.
There are eight zones in the Heaven and Earth display. On the West Front visitors are asked to contemplate the vastness of space and the fragility of our small blue planet. In the Cloisters they will enter an abstract galaxy. The Quire aisles will glow with William Morris style patterns, whilst the Trinity Chapel becomes a place to explore human diversity.
The interior experience will culminate in a magnificent celebration of our earth that envelopes the Nave looking towards the West Doors. The image and music reflect the spirit of this passage from the Book of Job:
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth,[a] and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.” Job 12:7-10
The light show comes at an important time for the Cathedral. Not only is it an outrider for the great season of Advent and the awe-inspiring Darkness to Light processions, which look forward to the birth of Christ with renewed hope, but it also marks the end of a year in which our community and communities across the globe have seen the impact of climate change and the pandemic. It also ends the year in which Salisbury has become the first Cathedral to achieve the A Rocha Eco Church Gold Award - another step towards its pledge to be carbon neutral by 2023.
Tickets are available here