Sculptor Brian Catling (b. 1948) has designed and produced a new processional cross for St Martin-in-the-Fields. The new processional cross is part of the Art Programme that began under the church's Renewal Project.
Catling was one of four artists invited to propose metalwork designs for the church. After a competitive presentation and interview process he was selected in principle by St Martin's Arts Advisory Panel. The panel was chaired by Sir Nicholas Goodison and also includes Vivien Lovell, Director of Modus Operandi. The selection was endorsed by the Parochial Church Council and the commissioning of the cross was financially supported by The Jerusalem Trust.
Members of the advisory panel include Revd Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin's; Rod Beadles and Ali Lyon, Churchwardens; Eric Parry, architect of the Renewal Project; art historians Wendy Baron and Mary Yule; and Alister Warman, curator.
Catling’s exquisite design references a simple cross, the starting point being two pieces of wood humbly tied together by a length of string - an allusion to St Martin tearing his cloak in two and giving half to a beggar. Through casting the cross in a strong yet lightweight aluminium and gilding it in white gold, Catling's original idea is transformed into an extraordinary emblem of the church. Throughout the process the cross has been worked on by hand, creating an original and conceptually complex work.
Recalling the process of making the cross, Catling states:
‘The privilege of making the processional cross has been overwhelming, both in the excitement of the concept and the enduring nature of its meaning. But also in the anxiety of getting it right. It is difficult for an artist to explain this, but the many hours of wakeful night time dreaming, becomes the forging in the imagination of the meaning of the work. This is as great a part of the process as the shaping, casting and balancing of the physical object. But for me it is essential that I have both a hands-on and mindful relationship with the sculptural identity of the cross. Design is not enough, I need the struggle and tension that only ever comes through deep feeling, prolonged thought, and the work of the hands.’
The dedication of the new Processional Cross was held in a special ceremony Sunday 15 Sept 2013 at St Martin-in-the-Fields.
The new processional cross is part of the St Martin-in-the-Fields Arts Programme, developed and curated by Modus Operandi.