British artist and setting designer Gerry Judah’s sculptures to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War have been installed inside St Paul’s Cathedral
The twin white cruciform shapes trigger thoughts of the rows of white crosses in war cemeteries in northern France, designed to wake us from any immunity to images of war and make viewers question the wastefulness and wanton destruction that continues 100 years after one of the most destructive conflicts in European history.
© David Barbour
The link to today’s conflicts in the Middle East is more profound considering that the First World War preceded the dividing of the Ottoman Empire, leading to more conflict.
Shells adorn the crosses, symbolising the way bombs tear away the skin of a building to expose the private lives of those who lived there.
St Paul’s Cathedral has been drawn into conflicts in a previous incarnation when it was destroyed by Vikings and was the centre of an iconic piece of war imagery during World War Two as it stood over burning London, barely scathed by Nazi incendiary bombs in Herbert Mason’s stunning photograph.
“Judah’s work ruptures the symmetry of the Cathedral just as war breaks down human harmony,” says Canon Mark Oakley, Chancellor of the Cathedral.
“Placed where they are, we are invited to walk through them, and the failure and pain they represent, into a sacred space of hope where people in all our diversity are invited to come together to worship, to respect and to learn from each other.
“These striking sculptures confront us with the reality of a war that saw thousands and thousands of young people from around the world buried with white crosses over their remains.
"They also provoke us into interrogating the present world and the landscapes we casually view on the news every day, scarred and agonised by military hate in the hearts and minds of those who survive.
"It is a work that starkly asks of us what it must now mean for us to be loyal to our shared future.”
- Open 8.30am-4pm (closed Sunday). Admission £7.50-£16.50 (family ticket £40). Book online.
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