Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Windows on the world (409)

Palma, 2018


Will Todd - Ave Verum Corpus.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Artlyst: Art And The Consequences Of War Explored In Two Exhibitions

My latest piece for Artlyst is an article about the linked exhibitions, ‘Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War One’ at Tate Britain and ‘Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 1919 – 33’ at Tate Modern. Both feature many of the same German artists, while Aftermath also includes British and French artists from the same period:

'In a move suggesting that mainstream curating has now accepted the validity of a continuing but fractious relationship between art and faith as a strand within modernism, both feature artists who depicted biblical stories in contemporary settings to reflect on the consequences of war (including Winifred Knights, Stanley Spencer and Albert Birkle). ‘Magic Realism’ has a room exploring Faith (including Birkle and Herbert Gurschner), while ‘Aftermath’ includes Georges Rouault’s series Miserere et Guerre (Mercy and War), adapting biblical imagery to reflect on contemporary experience.'

My other Artlyst articles and interviews are:

George Harrison - Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth).

Friday, 17 August 2018

The gifts that those with autism are bringing to the Church

Read the Church Times' article "Once we connect on to something, that’s it" on autism and Church, which features the Disability Advisory Group at St Martin-in-the-Fields with words from Fiona MacMillan.

The article says:

"There are estimated to be nearly a million people with a form of autism in the UK. It is likely that there are 80 in the average parish. Not all will be in church, but, like everyone else, they will be attending weddings, funerals, and other offices. Autism is not a mental-health condition, but a physical brain-wiring difference that, in the context of church worship, means, “Our brain wiring can literally overheat as it tries to handle too much input at once. We try very hard to avoid an overload of sensory or social situations.”

That explanation comes from the words of the C of E’s guidelines on autism, “Welcoming Those on the Autistic Spectrum”, which were created for Oxford diocese and formed part of the report Opening Doors, affirmed by the Synod in February.


Good practice can address all these things with what the guidelines say requires “nothing other than a bit of time and thought” — always in partnership with the people concerned. Fiona MacMillan chairs the Disability Advisory Group that works at St Martin-in-the-Fields, in London, which, in partnership with Inclusive Church, puts on an annual conference on disability and church. It is an opportunity to share learning and resources more widely, particularly evident in the booklet Calling From the Edge, launched at the General Synod in February.

“St Martin’s is a learning organisation,” she emphasises. “All our work is centred on lived experience: the experts are people who know, who encounter barriers and discrimination in daily life and in this place. We create change by understanding our different perspectives and working together to make things better.”

Whether characteristics associated with people with autism are perceived as positive or negative depends on context. “Understanding language literally is a challenge for those who don’t, but may encourage a clarity of thought which benefits all,” she reflects. “Wanting to know how things work doesn’t necessarily mean not appreciating mystery, or not being transfixed with wonder and delight at how things are.”

She lists among the characteristics of people with autism: “Honesty, integrity, directness, openness, creativity, different ways of perceiving, not being part of hierarchy and bureaucracy, not able to manipulate or discriminate. . . Loyalty, trust. Many autistic people have an inbuilt faith, unquestioning knowledge of the existence or presence of God.

“Having a passion for justice, spotting patterns, and noticing gaps or anomalies — including those who are left out or facing barriers to participation — are gospel values. Every church will have autistic people: some will have found their niche; others may not be open. It’s about acceptance of each other, openness to difference, acknowledging that one size doesn’t fit all, but we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God.”

Book a place to attend 'Something Worth Sharing', the 2018 conference on Disability and Church organised in partnership by Inclusive Church and St Martin-in-the-Field's, in October.


Gungor - Beautiful Things.

Palma: Es Baluard & Museu Fundación Juan March

Es Baluard Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art in Palma was opened in 2004 as a cultural institution for research and dissemination of Balearic & Mediterranean art from the 20th and 21st centuries. The museum is housed in a former military fortress - the Baluard de Sant Pere - which dates back to the 16th century, and was part of the Renaissance wall that surrounded the city of Palma.

The collection of the Foundation Es Baluard consists of paintings, sculptures, ceramics and drawings by artists emerging from the late 19th century: Cézanne, Gauguin, Picasso, Miro, Picabia, Magritte, Giacometti , Motherwell, Tàpies, to more recent artists such as Horn, Plessi, Polke, Kiefer, Schnabel, Barceló, and Scully. There are also outstanding examples of Catalan and Mediterranean landscapes, and artists who directly or indirectly have been associated with the Balearics: S. Rusiñol, J. Mir, A. Gelabert, H. Anglada-Camarasa, J. Or MH Mompó Ramis, among others.

The museum covers a total surface of 5,027 square metres, with 2,500 sq.m of exhibition space. The museum features one of the largest cisterns from the 17th century, known as 'The Aljub'. This fresh water reservoir was used to supply the Sant Pere quarter,as well as ships that used to dock in the harbour. It is now used as a setting for installations of contemporary artists, and for shows and concerts. The exhibition space extends on to large terraces and external spaces, from where wonderful views of the Bay of Palma can be enjoyed.

The main current exhibition is a retrospective of Majorcan audiovisual artist Bernardí Roig. Eighteen films have been installed on the lower floor of the museum creating a hellish environment through the conflicting soundscapes and the absurd, violent performative acts depicted in repeating loops from which the characters are unable to escape. 'These works tell us about an insatiable and nonsensical sisyphic absurd where the solitary figures of each of the videos act, caught in the repetition of gestures, in a sameness spiral. Either carrying a lamp on his back, sewing his mouth forever, spinning with a spotlight on his head without being able to get out of the claustrophobic spaces of rationalism, climbing a mountain constantly to never reach the ruins of the language philosopher’s cottage, or trapped between laughter and the aphonia of mute insults.'

The Museu Fundación Juan March in Palma de Mallorca has a permanent collection of seventy works by the most important Spanish vanguard artists of the twentieth century (Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Juan Gris and Salvador Dalí among them). The collection also includes representative examples of the innovative artistic movements of the mid-twentieth century with works by the most recent generations of Spain's artists. A total of fifty-two artists are represented. The Museum's galleries for temporary exhibitions display works by both national and international contemporary artists. The current exhibition is of prints by Picasso from the Fundación Juan March collection. Inaugurated in 1990, the Museum is centrally located in Palma, in an eighteenth-century building of regionalist style with touches of modernist inspiration.

Among the collection I was particularly interested in La estancia which 'brings together all the "ingredients" that make up [Guillermo] Pérez Villalta’s universe: Renaissance and mannerism, trompe-l’oeil and contorted figures, narrative and autobiographical elements, narcissism, cultural references, the blurring between reality and representation, interest in southern landscapes, and the neomodern style of the Costa del Sol. The naked and reflective man on the left is a self-portrait. Next to him, an empty glass has been knocked down, while one of the two figures depicted in the central mural prepares to place a crown of thorns on his head—this image brings to mind Cristo en la columna [Christ at the Column, 1980], a work where Pérez Villalta portrays himself in a similar manner. The figure on the right is also a self-portrait. Lying on a neo-modernist multicolored mattress, the artist lies with his back turned to the spectator. A full glass of wine rests on a palette beside him, as a Mediterranean landscape appears to unfold on the background. The mural also features a lamb pierced through by an arrow.'

Also, Jordi Teixidor's High Altar. Teixidor is 'an artist who remains faithful to the essence of modern painting, he has learned and experimented extensively, creating extremely personal works characterized by the liveliness of the colors, the subtle nuances of the brushstrokes and the serenity of the compositions. The result is expressed in large fields of color that respond to the restrained geometrical structures that precisely delimit them. The title of the work ['High Altar'], however, seems to refer to history, albeit to the history of painting itself. The words "high altar" bring to mind the large-scale altarpieces in which baroque artists experimented widely with colors And the effects of chiaroscuro. The succinct geometrical form that bites into The rich chromatic field at the upper edge of the painting offers the only reference To the title, although, in its minimalist essentialism, this flat form in the shape of a double T Is an abstract element devoid of any reference or expressivity.'


Eurythmics, Aretha Franklin - Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves.

Cathedral de Mallorca: Le Seu

The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma is more commonly referred to as La Seu. Its construction began in the 13th century. It is a Levantine Gothic-style cathedral (characterised by using a German-style hall layout) and has one of the largest rose windows in the world, known as “the Gothic eye”. Its nave is also one of the highest in any European Gothic cathedral.

During the 17th and 18th centuries the Baroque started to fill the inside of the Cathedral in the form of altarpieces, paintings and sculptures shaped by the spirituality of the period following the Council of Trent, including such emblematic pieces as the Corpus Christi altarpiece by Jaume Blanquer, the cloister and the new chapter house.

After the earthquake of 1851, the main façade was left in a precarious condition and so Bishop Miquel Salvà Munar entrusted its restoration to the architect Juan Bautista Peyronet.

At the start of the 20th century, the architect Antoni Gaudí adapted the Cathedral to meet new liturgical and pastoral requirements. His work, requested by Bishop Pere Joan Campins, continued from 1904 to 1914. The principal changes that Gaudí made to the cathedral were:
  • The removal of the gothic choir stalls from the centre of the nave, and its relocation in the presbytery, around the high altar. In addition, Josep Maria Jujol added lively colors to the stalls that did not go over too well with the priests.
  • The removal and recycling of the mudejar wooden candle gallery from the walls of the Capilla Real.
  • Decoration of the presbytery with ceramic tiling, representing the crests of the bishops of Mallorca, surrounded by olive-tree branches, with inscriptions in Latin on the wall that surround the episcopal throne.
  • Removal the baroque retablo (high altar) from the presbytery, that was moved the to the Church of Santa Catalina.
  • Removal of the gothic retablo and reinstalled it at the Puerta del Mirador.
  • Placing the high altar table in front of the uncovered episcopal throne, formerly hidden by the gothic and baroque retablos.
  • Placing of a forged iron railing for the presbytery.
  • Placing forged iron lamps and candelabras of various designs.
  • Placing two canopies above the high altar.
  • Building two galleries for cantors on each side of the presbytery, made up of plateresque elements.
  • Relocation of the two pulpits on the two nearest columns from the high altar, one of which was never completed, and the canopy of the big one was later removed in January 1970.
  • In addition, various chandeliers were installed in the entrance to the Capilla Real and in the aisles.
Two more important contributions that Gaudí made to the beautiful cathedral are the furniture and the stained-glass windows. Among the furniture, the highlights include the bench for the officiants at the altar, a stool, a lectern and the beautiful folding stairway that allows access to the exposition of the Holy Sacrament. In this cathedral, Gaudí used a new method for giving colour to the stained-glass windows, consisting of superimposing three glass sections in the primary colors (yellow, blue and red). His intention was to test the technique before implementing in the Sagrada Familia. He also restored the rose windows and stained-glass windows that had been walled over.

The inside of the Cathedral provides a great sensation of space and structural lightness, accentuated by the characteristics of the octagonal columns that divide the nave from the aisles, made out of sandstone from the quarries of Santanyí and Galdent (Llucmajor): just 14 columns divide the nave from the aisles, seven on each side. These divide the different sections. They are widely spaced (7.74 m.), are extremely slender and, above all, are very high (21.47 m). This sensation of lightness increases with the effects of the light that enters the Cathedral through the 7 rose windows and 83 windows – some installed during the last twenty years – and characterises the inside of the Cathedral. All of this has led to the Cathedral being known as “the Cathedral of light”.

The Chapel of the Holy Eucharist is the work of the Majorcan artist Miquel Barceló from between 2001 and 2006, following which the chapel was rededicated to the Holy Eucharist. The installation represents the miracle of Jesus multiplying the loaves and the fish for his followers. Cracked ceramic covers the chapel’s walls creating a cavelike feel while sculpted fish, bread, fruit, and human skulls feature prominently in the panoramic relief. The chapel’s stone furniture and darkened stained glass windows complete the scene’s dramatic effect.


Aretha Franklin - Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Arnaldo Pomodoro: Sphere & Crucifix

The most famous of Arnaldo Pomodoro’s work is called Sphere within a Sphere, also known as Sfera con Sfera in his native Italian language. 'It is a monumental series of sculptures featuring a large bronze sphere with seemingly damaged surface and complicated inner design consisting of another smaller, broken sphere inside. The artist created this sphere for the Vatican in the 60s, but due to its international popularity, Pomodoro was commissioned to build the same sculpture for important institutions and organizations worldwide. At the moment, Sphere within a Sphere is located at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York, Trinity College in Dublin, The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, Tel Aviv University in Israel and a couple of other locations.

Since the original design was created for the Vatican, the idea behind it is related to Christianity. Pomodoro claims that the outer sphere is the metaphor for Christianity while the inner sphere represents the Earth and people, suggesting that our world is contained within the bigger, sacred world of Catholicism. The layers of the inner sphere which contain gears are the symbol of intricacy and subtlety of our world. Pomodoro explained the motif of spheres in one of his interviews: A sphere is a marvelous object, from the world of magic and wizards. It reflects everything around it and it can easily get transformed or become invisible, leaving only its interior, tormented and corroded, full of teeth. Pomodoro feels puzzled by the perfect form of sphere and at the same time provoked to break its pristine roundness and cause the internal conflict, tension which is threatening to rip apart the entire form.

In addition to Sphere within a Sphere, Pomodoro designed many other pieces which found their home around the globe. For example, he created a large fiberglass crucifix for the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Wisconsin. The sculpture is famous for its enormous, fourteen foot in diameter crown of thorns above the head of the Christ’s figure.'

Pomodoro says: 'My goal was to create a highly symbolic and expressive work in which suffering and glory, the human and the divine were united in the moment of the Crucifixion. But an approach to Christ as a human being also required His presence as a human figure: I therefore sought the collaboration of Giuseppe Maraniello, who in constructing his works has always considered the figure to be fundamental.

The radiant crown is the symbol of the Passion—the crown of thorns—and transforms into an enormous halo, whereas Christ, rather than on the Cross, is himself the Cross. I see this as a truly singular work and I believe it can be understood by everyone in an intuitive and immediate way.

The crown, charged with oversized thorns, spikes, and nails, shows full and empty spaces, and is constructed of wood, fiberglass, and copper powder. The light which falls from above on its numerous faceted surfaces refracts into thousands of gleams and iridescences, producing, here as well, a kind of reverberation, as though to “illuminate” those who are here in prayer.'


Pollença: Mare de Déu dels Angels & Pollença Museum

The parish church of Mare de Déu dels Angels was founded in 1236, but only four years later it was handed to the Knights Templar, who had been granted swathes of land in northern Mallorca by King Jaime I of Aragon in recognition of the help they gave him during the Conquest of Mallorca in 1229. It was around this church that Pollença began to expand, eventually ending the thirteenth century as one of the main towns on the island.

After the Order of the Knights Templar was dissolved in 1312, all its properties, including this church, were ceded to the Order of the Knights Hospitallers, later known as the Order of Malta, remaining in their hands until 1836. However, the only trace of its original appearance is the base of the bell tower, construction of which began in 1470, although it didn't reach its current height until 1921.

The building as it is today was constructed between 1714 and 1790. It is a basilica floor plan church with vaulted side chapels. Inside you can see several valuable works of art, such as the Baroque altarpiece on the high altar dedicated to Mare de Déu dels Angels - created between 1752 and 1764 by Mallorcan sculptor Joan Pere Obrador - and fourteen large canvases depicting the Stations of the Cross.

The Knights Templar were the first owners of El Calvario, which today hosts one of the most impressive traditions of Mallorca’s Easter Week celebrations. El Calvario not only offers superb views of Pollença, but is also one of the town's most iconic locations thanks to its impressive stairway. It consists of 365 steps, one for each day of the year, and is flanked by cypress trees and fourteen three-metre-high crosses, evoking the ordeal that Jesus Christ suffered on the way to his crucifixion on Mount Golgotha.

On Good Friday the Calvario steps are the setting for the 'Davallament' (Removal from the Cross), one of the most important events of Mallorca's Easter Week celebrations, where a valuable carving of Christ is removed from the cross and solemnly paraded down the steps to the Church of Virgen de los Ángeles (patron saint of Pollença). The entire ritual is performed in complete silence and lit only by the torches carried by members of the different brotherhoods.

The Museum of Pollença is located in the old cloister of the Dominicans and it was built between 1588 and 1616; the Dominican friars were there until 1836.

The name of Pollença is linked to the world of painting from the first years of the XXth century, when artists like Anglada Camarasa, Tito Citadini, arrived from Paris and its international renown attracted other artists like Sobre Joaquim Mir and José de Creeft. The influence of these artists was materialized in the sixties with the creation of the Summer Exhibition of Painting, nowadays International Competition of Plastic Arts that, with 34 editions, has constituted the content of Pollença's Museum.

The Museum of Pollença was officially founded in 1975. In its halls were exhibited the works which won that Exhibition and a group of gothic altarpieces. With time the painting collection has increased and the contents have been enriched with works of archeologic character, a Buddhist mandala and Atilio Boveri's collection.

It’s Time to Open the Black Boxes!” by Danae Stratou is the current exhibition at the Museum of Pollença in the Iglesia del Convento de Santo Domingo. The show invites the public to contribute a single word — a word that threatens us, or a word that we desperately hope to protect. In the show, we open the ‘Black Boxes,’ revealing our collective vocabulary and bringing to light our collective fears and hopes. The project investigates the space between art, democracy and political action by focusing on how society responds directly — without parliamentary mediation — to issues that affect it.

The convent was built by Dominican Friars between 1558 and 1616 in order to bolster their presence in Pollença, having initially settled in the Oratorio del Roser Vell. The Dominicans occupied the church and the convent until 1833, when the site was disentailed, and a few years later the Spanish government ceded it to Pollença Town Council. Since then it has had many uses, including as a hospice, Guardia Civil barracks, a school and a museum.

The church of the convent has a basilica floor plan and ten side chapels, each adorned with a period altarpiece. The most striking example was created between 1651 and 1662 by Mallorcan sculptor Joan Antoni Oms and is dedicated to the Virgen del Rosario, patron saint of the Dominicans. The painting dates back to the fifteenth century and comes from the Oratorio del Roser Vell, which can also be visited in Pollença.

Next to the church is the pièce de résistance of this building: a Baroque-style cloister which was completed in 1616. Well known for the beauty of its four arched corridors, it has also been the venue for the Pollença Classical Music Festival since 1962. This event, created by the famous British violinist Philip Newman and held annually in July and August, regularly attracts eminent figures such as the soprano Montserrat Caballé, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and the Orchestre National de France with Lorin Maazel as conductor.


Philip Newman - El Cant dels ocells.