Go See – Gloucester, UK: “Crucible” Sculpture Exhibition at Gloucester Cathedral

September 7th, 2010

Damien Hirst, St. Bartholomew Exquisite Pain, 2006. Image via exhibition website.

On view at Gloucester Cathedral through October 30, 2010 is ‘Crucible,’ a large group exhibition of contemporary sculpture displaying more than 75 works of art. The show is installed in both the main building and throughout the grounds, and features work by some of Britain’s most important living artists, including Damien Hirst, Antony Gormley, David Nash, Marcus Harvey, and Lynn Chadwick. Of the participating artists, 13 are members of the Royal Academy of Arts, and 1 Royal Hibernian Academian. The exhibit opened to the public on September 1, and is organized jointly by Glouster Cathedral and Gallery Pangolin.

More text and images after the jump…

Damien Hirst (b. 1965) is well known known for his use of death as a theme in his work, and the life-sized silver St. Bartholomew Exquisite Pain is no exception. In the Christian tradition, aptly referring to the venue, Bartholomew travels to Armenia on a missionary tour where he is flayed alive, crucified upside-down, and ultimately martyred. In Hirst’s sculpture, Bartholomew stands with one arm raised, hand extended, clutching a crude scalpel. Although his own flayed skin hangs from the raised extremity, Bartholomew is shown alive, standing expressively, veins and musculature exposed.

Antony Gormley, Close V, 2010. Image via exhibition website.

Gormley’s (b. 1950) cast-iron Close V takes the human form for its subject, showing a man lying prone, face-down, with limbs spread. Similar to the works featured in recent exhibitions such as ‘Horizon Field,’ and ‘Critical Mass,’ Close V appeals to both the existing normative posture of the human form as well as the possibility for presentation within a given environment.

David Nash, Encased Cross 2009. Image via exhibition website.

The medieval church in which the exhibition is presented has been an important center for stonemasonry since the 11th century, and still employs an active guild. The work of the Cathedral’s in-house stonemason Jordi Raga Frances is included in ‘Crucible’ and reflects this vibrant tradition. Other objects on view have been culled from a wide range of public and private collections; several are being exhibited for the first time.

Marcus Harvey, Nike, 2008-2009. Image via ArtNet.

Gloucester Cathedral has presented a variety of exhibitions in the past. ‘Icons in Transformation,’ a show of work by contemporary Scandinavian artist Ludmila Pawlowska, inspired by traditional Russian religious icons, was most recently on view through the month of August. ‘Crucible,’ however, is likely to rank among the Cathedral’s most highly attended in recent history. Since its opening September 1st,  the exhibition has drawn strong crowds, and has been described as one of the more important recent exhibitions of contemporary sculpture.

Related Links:

Crucible [Gloucester Cathedral]
Gloucester Cathedral Crucible Exhibition Comes to Westgate St.
[Westgate Quarter]
Crucible at Gloucester Cathedral
Crucible, Biggest Sculpture Exhibition of the Decade comes to Gloucester Cathedral
[The City of Gloucester]
Gloucester Cathedral and Gallery Pangolin Present Crucible
[Gloucester Guildhall]
Crucible – the Sculpture Exhibition of the Decade
[Cotswold Life]