Wednesday, 25 July 2007

The Complete Picture

I received an interesting comment from a reader about the plans for the continuing mosaic decoration of the Cathedral - reflecting questions that we receive every week from visitors about the unfinished state of the mosaics, and the dark and empty vaults (below).


We are committed to continuing the plan of our founders, Cardinal Vaughan and Francis Bentley, to continue the decoration of the Cathedral. It is unlikely in the extreme that it will be completed in our lifetimes, but our generation is contributing to the programme, and doing our part in taking the vision forward. Last year, we realised a full theological plan for the mosaics, which I will post later in the summer. We have on display in the Nave an artist's impression of the completed designs (below). This picture, which seems to dates from the 1930s or 1940s, is non-specific, and does not attempt to indicate what should go where.

An older version is show here, rather crowded and over-busy, and obviously drawn before the apse and baldacchino were established in their final form. Note, however, the arch above the sanctuary (indicated in blue) which is complete.

Note the images of the apostles (coloured) on the piers of the nave. This is good Byzantine practice, symbolizing the apostles as pillars of the Church. Perhaps there was a missed opportunity when the spaces on the piers were instead filled with marble panels (below).

In terms of fundraising, however, the mosaics can never be my primary concern. The Cathedral has more pressing needs - to pay its way each year, to build up a reserve for emergencies, and to undertake urgent repairs. However, it is my hope that we can make more people aware of the on-going mosaic decoration. We have some exciting projects in hand, about which I shall report soon. So who knows - one day we may rival San Marco's itself!
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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Closer to home might we not derive inspiration from the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Bayswater? During a recent visit there I was struck by the awesome beauty of its mosaics and the majestic sense of grandeur and holiness with which they infused the church.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful - and inspiring. Can't wait to read more about the plans for the domes.

Anonymous said...

I greatly admire the architecture and ambience that one can feel in the cathedral...

It would be fabulous to be alive one day to see the complete decoration...

Anonymous said...

It may be heretical to say this, but I love the unadorned cupolas of the nave. To me they add to the sense of mystery, almost as if we can reach so far towards the Godhead but then words/thoughts fail us. A minority view perhaps, but it's mine!

Si Fractus Fortis said...

I agree with the previous anonymous comment. I like it the way it is - it has a wonderful sense of mystery.

Udge said...

For what it's worth, I agree strongly with Anon #4 and Si Fractis Fortis, I love the darkness of the unadorned domes, and would be glad to contribute to a fund to prevent completion of the mosaics! I think the cathedral as it presently stands has a majesty and mystery that is IMHO and for my taste missing in e.g. S. Marco in Venice. St. John the Divine in NY has something of the same effect, but it's much more brightly lit.