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Saturday, 17 June 2017

St Matthew Bethnal Green: Commissioning young artists

Congratulations to Fung Lau and James Johnston, both priested today at St Matthew Bethnal Green.

In 1957 it was decided to rebuild St Matthew Bethnal Green and Antony Lewis was appointed architect. Work began in 1958 and the temporary church was demolished in 1960 and the present church was re-consecrated on 15 July 1961.

The enlightened vision of Antony Lewis included commissioning young artists and ensuring that their work was integral to the structure of the building. Thus the church now has Stations of the Cross by Don Potter, a staircase sculpture by Kim James, the Apostles Screen by Peter Snow and an altar by Robert Dawson. Dorothy Rendell painted the tester designed by Lewis himself (as were the light fittings and the font) and the murals in the Upper Chapel are by Barry Robinson. The glass panels are designed by Heather Child. (see Art in St Matthew's)

Apart from these major pieces St Matthew’s houses a legacy from many of the other bombed churches in the area which are no longer standing. The stained glass in the Back Chapel by Lawrence Lee incorporates windows from St Philip’s, Swanfield Street, the crucifix at the east end is from the temporary church, as is the statue of Our Lady of Peace and a number of the carved wooden furnishings.

The interchange between artists and the church continues. For some years, the church hall was home to two galleries - Paradise Row and T 1 + 2.

Artists that have either had work in or related to the church are Cornelia Parker, Wolf Von Leinkiewicz, Lucinda Rogers and Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost.


Rhabanus Maurus - Veni Creator Spiritus, Mentes tuorum visita.

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