Powerful show graces chapel

RICHARD PARR A powerful piece of art depicting the Crucifixion has gone on show for the first time at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. The sculpture, entitled Crucifixion, depicts a naked, handless and muscular body of Christ modelled entirely from steel mesh.

RICHARD PARR

A powerful piece of art depicting the Crucifixion has gone on show for the first time at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

The sculpture, entitled Crucifixion, depicts a naked, handless and muscular body of Christ modelled entirely from steel mesh.

Its powerful image has already attracted plenty of comment from visitors and pilgrims to the shrine since it first appeared in the Barn Chapel last month.


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One pilgrim described her feelings having seen the art for the first time: "I was inspired and at the same time frightened. I was so moved I had to sit down."

It was made by well-known London artist David Begbie and commissioned to hang in Winchester Cathedral in 1988.

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It has been bought for an undisclosed sum by shrine guardian John Booth, who has donated it to the shrine.

Fr Philip North, administrator of the Anglican shrine, is delighted with the new image of Christ and believes it is a fascinating study in power and powerlessness.

He said it prompted questions from those viewing it, such as why there are no hands. He believes the barbed wire crown on Christ's head speaks of oppression and injustice, of the horrors of the trenches in the first world war and of Auschwitz in the second world war.

It takes on an even greater dramatic shadow effect when spotlighted against the bare white plasterwork. When looked at for some time, the figure of Christ appears to be encased within the mesh cross rather than hanging in front of it.

Fr North said pilgrims visiting Walsingham had become used to very stylised images of Christ and David Begbie's abstract work was in sharp contrast.

"It is an extraordinarily powerful piece and it is very good to have a piece of art at the shrine by such a well-respected artist," he said.

He pointed out that it was 3m high and designed for a building of cathedral proportions, so its effect in the much smaller Barn Chapel was more dramatic.

Begbie specialises in working with steel mesh with the human form as his subject.

Since 1979, his work has been shown across the world and he was commissioned to create a piece for the entrance to Faith Zone at the Millennium Dome.

The public can view the new image of Christ in the Barn Chapel which is behind the refectory block within the shrine complex.

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