Virtual Art Exhibition launched for 800th Anniversary Celebrations | Salisbury Cathedral

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Virtual Art Exhibition launched for 800th Anniversary Celebrations

On the 800th anniversary of the laying of its foundation stones the Cathedral is launching a virtual version of

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Virtual Art Exhibition launched for 800th Anniversary Celebrations

Posted By : Marie Thomas Tuesday 28th April 2020

On the 800th anniversary of the laying of its foundation stones the Cathedral is launching a virtual version of Celebrating 800 years of Spirit and Endeavour, its largest contemporary art exhibition for nearly two decades. A special service of words and music is programmed to mark this important day in the life of Salisbury Cathedral - click here for details. 


The online exhibition opens just over a month after the real-life launch was halted by the COVID-19 lockdown.

Patrick Price from Heads Above The Cloud was called in to scan the entire exhibition, inside and out, ahead of lockdown and before the Cathedral closed. Since then the exhibition’s curator Jacquiline Creswell has been working with the Cathedral team to prepare the virtual exhibition for a launch on 28 April, 800 years to the day after the Cathedral’s first foundation stones were laid, following the move from its original site at Old Sarum.

Celebrating 800 years of Spirit and Endeavour brings together work from some of the most important and influential contemporary artists of the 20th and 21st century, including Antony Gormley, Shirazeh Houshiary, Henry Moore, Grayson Perry, Conrad Shawcross, Stanza and Mark Wallinger. Pieces from the Cathedral’s permanent collect have also been incorporated into this exhibition, including sculptures by Dame Elisabeth Frink, Dame Barbara Hepworth and Helaine Blumenfeld.

The Cathedral has also commissioned new works from Bruce Munro and Daniel Chadwick.

Jacquiline Creswell, Salisbury Cathedral Visual Arts Adviser and curator said: “This exhibition has been three years in the planning and it took three weeks to install, working from dawn to dusk, so when the lockdown was announced it was heartbreaking. However, we were determined that people should see it, if only virtually, and we are hoping to extend its run so that it can be seen ‘for real’ next year.”

The exhibition catalogue is also being made available online here, as a virtual brochure with images of and information about each work.

Speaking about the show’s themes of spirit and endeavor Jacquiline Creswell added:
“It does strike me as profound that commemorating the placing of a stone 800 years ago, something so physical and monumental at the time, is now taking place on a virtual, online platform – something the original Cathedral builders could not have imagined. The exhibition was conceived as a celebration of the human spirit and human endeavor, manifested through the faith and skill that drove the builders and their community on. That shared humanity and capacity to create and endure holds today and, whether online and offline, I hope this exhibition encourages viewers to look forward with hope."

The move from Old Sarum was politically, logistically, commercially and spiritually audacious, made in defiance of the King’s soldiers, with a building plan that would challenge even modern, technologically advanced builders. Jacquiline Creswell’s first challenge was to mount an exhibition that embodied the spirit, ambition, faith and endeavour that brought about that move and the construction of this magnificent building – and her second was to imbue the online exhibition with as much of the awe and wonder that the original exhibition evokes.

Dr Robert Titley, Canon Treasurer and Chair of the Cathedral’s Arts Advisory Committee said: “Christianity is a religion of redemption and salvation. We planned this exhibition to celebrate a landmark birthday for our Cathedral and city but the coronavirus overtook us. Now – thanks to this virtual realisation - the exhibition lives anew, to bring hope and delight in a time of trouble, passing through the closed doors of isolation and lockdown. It’s a sign of what is possible when the Spirit of God fuels human endeavour.”  

Celebrating 800 years of Spirit and Endeavour has been made possible thanks to Salisbury Cathedral’s Dean and Chapter, our Cathedral Art supporters, Patrons and Champions, galleries, foundations and individual artists, in particular, Peter Osborne of Osborne Samuel Gallery, Conrad Shawcross and the Victoria Miro Gallery, ScootZooma Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, and Payden and Rygel.

The virtual exhibition and its virtual catalogue will remain online here until the Cathedral is able to welcome visitors once again. You can purchase a catalogue here.


For any other enquiries or further information contact: Marie Thomas at Salisbury Cathedral 07857144691