Remembrance at Sandham Memorial Chapel

On 11 November I attended a simple service to mark Armistice Day at the Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere.  It was a huge privilege to sit in this modest chapel, dominated by the murals Stanley Spencer painted following his experiences as a soldier and medical orderly at the Salonika Front in World War One. The soldiers in Spencer’s paintings, some in his powerful resurrection scene, others recuperating in hospital, could have come from villages such as Burghclere. The scenes depicted by Spencer convey tenderness and compassion, and a strong sense of the poet Wilfred Owen’s “pity of war”:
 
“Above all I am not concerned with Poetry.
My subject is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is in the pity.”

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Sculpture from the Marble Mountains of Tuscany

I regret not having visited Pietrasanta when the stone-dusted streets rang to the sound of sculptors carving marble from the nearby quarries at Carrara.  Now most of the studios are on the edge of town and much of the area around the very pretty Piazza del Duomo is occupied by chic shops and galleries.
 
I met sculptor Salvatore Anselmo in the Piazza del Duomo at Bar Michelangelo – where else? The great man went to Pietrasanta in the 16th century in search of marble for the facade of the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence, a commission never realised because he went to paint the Sistine Chapel instead.  Michelangelo’s marble for his David and other sculptures came from Carrara and the road he had built to the quarry still exists.  

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'Blown Away' - a sculpture by Sioban Coppinger FRBS

In the year of the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, this outstanding work of art by distinguished sculptor Sioban Coppinger FRBS has been having a profound effect on visitors to Echoes in the Memory, The Garden Gallery's current exhibition. 

Made from bronze laurel leaves with a steel base, the sculpture is 1.75 metres tall.  Sioban Coppinger says, "Blown Away is a study of a moment. The young man, his life fleeting as a gust of laurel leaves, he sees the whole world in a glance.

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Echoes in the Memory

I have been giving thought to how we cherish memories of past lives, and the stories which make our histories. How do we remember a beloved person, or a particularly happy or rewarding time in our lives? How do we hold this remembrance and keep the flame alive? The cycle of life is affirmed in nature. Trees lose their leaves reminding us of impermanence and mortality, but they are reborn from the cold and the dark, assuring us of the continuity of life.  

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Some sculptors' thoughts on stone

“I remember reading a story as a kid in Japan ... it was from the folktales of Oita, the region in which I was brought up and the story was about a guy, a priest, who decided to carve a passage through a mountain because travellers kept falling to their deaths from the treacherous  path which ran along the cliff edge. I think it took him over twenty years. I remember being hugely impressed with the idea that one person could even think to carve through a mountain.  I later visited the passageway where the marks of his chisels could still be seen ...   

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