HELAINE BLUMENFELD AT SALISBURY CATHEDRAL – FRIDAY 13 APRIL – SUNDAY 8 SEPTEMBER
Salisbury Cathedral is the iconic location for the first major retrospective exhibition by Helaine Blumenfeld OBE, one of Britain’s leading contemporary sculptors working in marble and bronze.
Messenger of the Spirit, running from 13 April – 8 September, brings together twenty of the extraordinarily beautiful pieces Blumenfeld has created throughout a career spanning more than four decades and includes four new site-specific pieces: Esprit 2013, Mysteries, The Space Within and Flight. The majority of the pieces are located in the Cathedral but six monumental works will be outside in the surrounding Cathedral Close. Many thousands of people are expected to take the opportunity to visit to see her inspirational work in this public space.
The exhibition, which shares its title with one of Blumenfeld’s best known pieces Messenger of the Spirit, is curated by Jacquiline Creswell, Visual Arts Advisor for the Cathedral. It can be seen at Salisbury Cathedral from Friday 12 April – Sunday 8 September 2013. Recommended viewing times are Monday-Saturday 9.00am – 5.00pm and Sunday 12noon – 4.00pm (services on Sundays are held at 8.00am, 9.15am, 10.30am and 4.30pm). For further details visit www.salisburycathedral.org.uk or telephone 01722 555120.
The Cathedral has produced a free 16-page Reflective Guide with text and images to accompany the exhibition and help visitors to appreciate Helaine Blumenfeld’s works in this spiritual setting. It is running a full programme of events to support the exhibition including workshops, talks and discussions. In addition there will be free tours led by specialist guides offering a closer insight into Blumenfeld’s work. For further information on the supporting programme please call 01722 555180 or visit www.salisburycathedral.org.uk
The gallery Bowman Sculpture, which has represented Helaine Blumenfeld since 2006, is producing a catalogue which will be available during the exhibition with a foreword by Richard Cork and commentary by Nicola Upson.
Sarah Mullally, Canon Treasurer and Chairman of the Cathedral’s Exhibition Committee, said “Within the narrative of Christian scripture Angels appear when the human mind struggles to comprehend. Through her sculptures Helaine Blumenfeld seeks to communicate from that place when words fail through the visual, imaginative and tactile, and at an emotional level. The Cathedral seeks to do the same so this is a unique opportunity for the Cathedral and these sculptures to work together. It is a real joy after so many months of planning to see Helaines breathtakingly beautiful sculptures here where the building’s light, space and architecture are seen in partnership with the flowing textures and smooth lines of the pieces to create a wonderful sense of life, and giving a message of creation, healing and hope.
Helaine Blumenfeld commented, “I am honoured and excited to have the opportunity to have this important exhibition of my work at Salisbury Cathedral. The sculptures that I am showing resonate with the beauty and meaningfulness of this setting. I hope to inspire and surprise the viewer, leading them into spaces in the Cathedral that they have not visited before. For me sculpture has been a journey to try and reach beyond the physical, emotional and cultural boundaries that limit our perception as well as our growth as spiritual beings. Through sculpture I have tried to create a visual language that does not depend on words but on images for its impact.”
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For further information:
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 01722 555148 / 07771 510811.
Email: [email protected]
T: 0207 930 8003
SARAH MULLALLY’s THOUGHTS ON ‘MESSENGER OF THE SPIRIT’
As I watched the exhibition being installed over the last few days the wonderful sculptures found life as the light and space began to touch the folds, crevasses and lines of the pieces. The spirituality of the pieces and that of the Cathedral work together to create a sense of the transcendence which is also a result of the collaboration of many who have made this possible but I am especially grateful to Helaine Blumenfeld and Jacquiline Creswell, exhibition curator, who both saw what was possible and worked to realize it.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE NEW WORKS FOR SALISBURY CATHEDRAL by Helaine Blumenfeld
Although I have created over 80 site-specific works all over the world, when the possibility of placing work in the context of Salisbury Cathedral was suggested to me three years ago I felt uniquely inspired. When people come into the context of Salisbury Cathedral, they enter the grounds prepared for a spiritual experience. They leave their everyday thoughts outside and are open to receiving the impact of the experience they may have there, not necessarily a ‘religious’ experience but rather one of being open to the notion that art is a form of revelation, both for the artist who receives a ‘vision’ and for the viewer to whom it is transmitted. As the title of the exhibition suggests, art can be the bearer of this message. I have always believed that revelation can emanate from the spirit when our minds are clear enough to receive the impact of it.
From the earliest days of my work as an artist I have sought to put into form the complexity, beauty and mystery of the human spirit, known to us only in sudden glimpses. Having considered this, and being very aware of the importance of scale particularly in the context of the Cathedral, I began to enlarge my most spiritual and iconic models — MYSTERIES, THE SPACE WITHIN and FLIGHT — with a mind to sharing their message with the many visitors who come to Salisbury Cathedral.
A few months ago I decided that I wanted to create one more sculpture for this exhibition, a completely new model carved with the Cathedral and the theme of the exhibition at the forefront of my mind. This became ESPRIT 2013.
HELAINE BLUMENFELD ON HER SCULPTURES
Through sculpture I have tried to create a language that does not depend on words but images for its impact. The forms I have used have evolved, my vocabulary has increased – but the themes that have preoccupied me – man and woman and their relationship, the many aspects of the female psyche, the idea of creation, dreams and mythology – are constant.
For me sculpture is a journey to try and reach beyond the physical, emotional and cultural boundaries that limit our perception as well as our growth as spiritual beings. I believe that art is an encounter with the unexpected that can extend our capacity for experiencing ourselves and the unknown. But only if the viewer is able to set aside their preconceptions and directly experience the work. We have been brought up to separate reason and emotion. To create a work of art the artist must merge the two. I think that to fully appreciate its impact the viewer must blur that distinction as well.
In trying to take art off its pedestal and demystifying it, I think we run the risk of losing what makes it magical. Art isn’t explanation, it’s beyond that. Aristotle said art spiritualises man; more than ever, that’s important. Maybe I’m returning to mythology because I think we run the risk of forgetting we have a soul. Carlos Fuentes wrote about man having lost his place in the scale of things, having forgotten that he can reach up just as easily as down. Art is there to remind man of his spirituality: you look at something and are moved by it, and everyone is able to recognise that. We come closer through art to a spiritual realm.
LIST OF SCULPTURES IN THE ‘MESSENGER OF THE SPIRIT EXHIBITION’
Angel I, Marble
Angels: Harmony, Marble
Creation II, Marble
Esprit 2013, Marble
Esprit II, Bronze
Flight maquette, Bronze
Il Vento, Marble
Messenger of the Spirit, Bronze
Shadow Figures, Marble
Taking Risks, Marble
The Space Within, Bronze
Tower of Dreams, Bronze
Salisbury Cathedral is one of Britain’s finest medieval cathedrals. It offers a warm welcome to all who visit and seeks to strengthen church and community life in the diocese. Salisbury Cathedral celebrates the presence of God through worship, music and art and has a special commitment to challenging injustice and fostering reconciliation, both at home and abroad. Over 300,000 people visit the Cathedral each year to marvel at the peace and beauty of the 750 year old building and admire Britain’s tallest spire. The finest original copy of the 1215 Magna Carta is on permanent display to visitors in the Chapter House.