Illuminating art at Salisbury Cathedral

SALISBURY Cathedral was lit up in November with a spectacular light and sound show, Illuminating Art by Luxmuralis, creating a journey through art and religious history, from the Protestant-Catholic conflicts of the 16th century and the Baroque to Art Deco and early 20th century industrialisation and photography.

Sarum Lights, which is attracting thousands of visitors, is an exploration of four centuries of new ideas, from the concept of moral philosophy, natural science and the first English dictionary, through the American War of Independence, the abolition of slavery and the story of women’s emancipation, to the engineering feats of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the age of steam, early photography and the Zoetrope animation device.

The light and sound show is on the west front and throughout the nave and the chancel. In the north transept, Starry, Starry Night is part of an installation devoted to Impressionism and Post Impressionism, inviting visitors to write and share their thoughts on star-shaped cards. The installation refers to Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, painted a year before his death when he was in Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Rémy.

An amazing kaleidoscope of images in the nave showcases the Pre-Raphaelites (Burne-Jones, Millais, Rossetti and Holman Hunt) and the Impressionists (Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Manet and Renoir) – all titans of their generation seen in a new light.

Luxmuralis’ artistic director Peter Walker says: “I think our visitors enjoyed seeing the familiar, both in terms of pictures and the building, in a totally new light. For some it was a chance to enjoy wonderful sounds and pictures, and for others it was a more contemplative experience exploring each element in more depth. There are no rules, it’s up to the visitor to find their own experience – our job is to make art that can be shared and experienced as a group or on your own.”

Kenneth Padley, Canon Treasurer and chairman of Salisbury Cathedral’s arts advisory panel, described Sarum Lights as “a wonderful opportunity for us to welcome new people into the Cathedral, as well as old friends, and to show that our doors are open to all. Immersive experiences like this are popular and connect with a wide range of people in many different ways. This is particularly important for us as we head towards Advent and Christmas when we look forward to sharing joyful celebrations with thousands.”

Photographs by Finnbar Webster