Guests including the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex and Lady Emma Barnard, the Duchess of Richmond, gathered to see some of the recent artwork produced by the Workshop (including a nine-foot crucifix for Aberdeen’s Roman Catholic Cathedral) and meet recent apprentices from the Workshop.
Working with Chichester Cathedral, the Chichester Workshop seeks to be an international centre for the production and teaching of traditional liturgical art. Using skills and material that have been employed since the early centuries of the Christian Church, the three artists currently involved in the Workshop (James Blackstone, Martin Earle and Aidan Hart) are working on commissions across a broad range of traditional media from people all over the world and across the Christian traditions. Whether making crucifixes, icons, altars or croziers for use in worship, the Workshop also seeks – through apprenticeships – to sustain these ancient artistic traditions for future generations.
An educational programme being developed in association with the Canon Precentor at Chichester Cathedral, Dr Daniel Inman, also seeks to explain the importance of art in worship for the wider Church, believing, as the artists describe it, that liturgical art ‘presents a vision of the heavenly glories, and earth transformed’.
Speaking of the Workshop, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said,
"Damage on a global scale is a recurring feature of this century. We see it in our misuse of the environment, in war, poverty, and injustice.
The Christian response is the quest for recovery of the sacred. This recovery reconfigures our damaged lives and environment. It endlessly restores a sense of the freedom and joy of being made by God and destined for life with God.
Art plays an indispensable role in helping us to recover the sacred. Beyond words, and independent of fashion or finance, it can shape in our imagination an aptitude and delight in this world, in ourselves and in each other.
I welcome the Chichester Workshop project, which is necessarily ecumenical and refreshingly profound in its thought and purpose."
By 2025, it is hoped, the Workshop will be established in the Cathedral Close itself, expressing a continuity in artistic production and commissioning at Chichester that stretches back to the Cathedral’s first decades and witnessed in the famous Lazarus reliefs of the 1120s that are found in the south aisle.
To find out more about the Workshop and to access a range of videos and resources go to www.chichesterworkshop.org.