Thursday, 08 July 2021 12:49

Four huge new sculptures unveiled at Exeter Cathedral

Four striking new sculptures are floating in the air above visitors at Exeter Cathedral. The human-like forms are said to reflect themes of hope, resilience and new beginnings.

The sculptures are part of a project by Devon-based artist Martin Staniforth, which includes sculptures inside and outside the Cathedral, a contemporary dance event, creative wellbeing workshops and a community-crafted Tree of Hope sculpture.

The four sculptures appear to float in the air and are described as “life-size echoes of human figures emerging from woven willow structures with gentle cotton drapes suggesting movement”.

Martin said: “This project is inspired by the idea that an ending can also be a beginning. Tragedy is part of the circle of life. Things go wrong but the sun always rises tomorrow. When something comes to a close, this creates time and space for something new to emerge.
“I first began thinking about this idea as a teenager walking around London, photographing the statues. They were all male and looked very cold, stoic and proud. I thought that surely there were ways to reflect other sides of humanity, acknowledging frailty and vulnerability.”

Outside the Cathedral a sculpture has been created using timbers burnt during the fire at the Royal Clarence Hotel in 2016. The burnt timbers first found a new life when Martin incorporated them in a sculpture in 2017.

He added: “The burnt timbers were going to be thrown away, but they still had life inside them. I used them to create ‘Hope & Renewal’ in 2017, and now I’m re-reusing them, reflecting the idea that an ending can be a beginning. I’ve sealed the loose, black, scaly surface of the timbers however, in time, the crevices would form a foundation for tiny plants to grow.”

During the exhibition, visitors to the Cathedral are invited to contribute to a community sculpture by writing memories of the past and hopes for the future on to paper leaves.

These will hang on the Tree of Hope, which aims to help people to build hope for the future. Contributions might respond to loss or loneliness due to Covid-19, or to climate change and sustainability issues.

The project is funded by the Network For Social Change, Creative Beings CIC and Arts Council England, and will be at Exeter Cathedral until 30 August.