Gerry Judah's THE CRUSADER makes dramatic entrance at Imperial War Museum North

By Richard Moss | 08 November 2010
a photo of a suspended sculptural installation in the shape of a crucifix decorated with  models of bombed-out buildings
Gerry Judah, THE CRUSADER at Imperial War Museum North. Photography by David Barbour
Installation: THE CRUSADER at Imperial War Museum North until November 2011

A seven metre, three-dimensional crucifix covered with a lattice of war-torn buildings lacquered in a ghostly snow-white residue has taken up residence inside the main exhibition space of Imperial War Museum North. 

Installed this weekend to mark Remembrance Day, THE CRUSADER is a specially commissioned artwork by Gerry Judah. It was made in direct response to contemporary global conflicts – in particular in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and joins a medley of suspended aircraft, tanks and other relics of conflict at the museum.

Judah is fascinated by destruction. Many of his works, including his chilling sculpture made for IWM London’s Holocaust exhibition in 2000, have the appearance of ghostly aerial photographs or panoramas that reveal the extent of the devastation that war brings on a landscape and its people.

Now visitors to IWMN’s entrance hall will be able to witness Judah’s eerie post apocalyptic vision writ large across a distressed crucifix as it hovers dramatically above them. The piece is a thoughtful addition to the themes explored by the IWM's nothern outpost.

a photo of an exhibition hall with the underside of a suspended aeroplane in the foreground and a sculptural installation in the shape of a crucifix decorated with  models of bombed-out buildings in the distance
THE CRUSADER installed at Imperial War Museum North. Photography: David Barbour
With its web of war-torn buildings it also provides a chilling entrance to the main exhibition hall and fits well with the interior of the Daniel Liebeskind designed building.

For Judah, the museum provides the perfect setting for the sculpture because it “shows how war shapes people’s lives”. 

“The sculpture fuses together the contradictions that preoccupy me as an artist,” he adds. “It explores the violence of conflict against a perceived righteousness of purpose; the beauty of the sculpture contrasting with the darkness of the subject matter.” 

The culmination of a five-year period in which Judah created a series of three dimensional paintings of war damaged cities inspired by recent global events, THE CRUSADER is the second piece he has developed for Imperial War Museum.

In 2000 his detailed model of the loading ramp at the Nazi death camp Auschwitz Birkenau, made for a thoughtful addition to the museum’s permanent Holocaust exhibition in London.

Jim Forrester, Imperial War Museum North Director said the latest sculpture offered “a thought-provoking perspective on conflict highlighting how war shapes lives".

“Gerry Judah’s work is always powerful and this dramatic sculpture will hopefully set all our visitors thinking this Remembrance and beyond.”

In pictures: the Gerry Judah installation at Imperial War Museum North.
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