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Visual Communion: A series of symposia on the art, architecture and craft of the Eucharist.

The Eucharist (Mass or Holy Communion) is the central act of worship in Christian liturgy, offering thanksgiving, praise and sacrifice. This series of symposia explores the Eucharist in relation to art, architecture and craft and asks how the visual arts have shaped and are shaped by the Eucharist. Each symposium will act as a 'sounding', taking place in a different regional centre and feeding into a two-day conference in London in November 2019. The symposia will draw upon collections of ecclesiastical art and design as well as the architecture of sanctuaries and chapels set aside for the celebration of the Eucharist. There will also be rare opportunities to handle and view closely different materials and media, including textiles, silverware, sculpture, painting and furniture.

Visual Communion will demonstrate the crucial importance of the visual arts in the rich heritage of Christian sacramental liturgy and theology, opening up new ways of seeing art made and used for the glory of God.

The symposia will take place in Durham and Coventry in 2018; Chichester and Winchester in Spring 2019; and culminate in a major two-day conference in London on 29 & 30 November 2019 at which Rowan Williams will give the keynote lecture.

Durham and Ushaw

From Medieval Mastery to Pugin

Friday & Saturday 7 & 8 September 2018

Friday's programme begins at 1.30pm with a welcome from the Cathedral and an introduction by the Rt Revd David Stancliffe, followed by tours of artefacts and architecture of the Eucharist at both Durham Cathedral and University College. At 4.30pm we travel to Ushaw College* where there will be a Service of Benediction, a chance to view the chapels of Ushaw designed by E. and A.W. Pugin, and a pre-dinner lecture by the Pugin-specialist Rosemary Hill, author of God's Architect.

Saturday's programme begins at 11am at Ushaw with a keynote lecture by David Grumett, author of Material Eucharist. Other speakers include Jan Graffius, curator at Stonyhurst College, Canon Simon Oliver, and Claire Marsland, curator at Ushaw. The symposium closes with a Eucharist in the Galilee Chapel at Durham Cathedral.

* Ushaw opened as a college for training Catholic priests in 1808 and carried on that role until 2011. Its extensive complex of chapels and meeting rooms are are home to an exceptional collection of artefacts as well as an internationally significant archive and early books collection.

Coventry Cathedral

The Modern Era

Saturday 10 November 2018, 10.30am-5pm

This day-long programme begins with a lecture by the Dean of Coventry, John Witcombe, on the materiality of the offertory at the Eucharist; the architectural historian, Judi Loach, on the reordering of the sanctuary in the wake of the Liturgical Movement and with specific reference to designs by George Pace; Christopher Irvine on the paintings of Ceri Richards in their relation to the reredos; and Louise Campbell on Geoffrey Clarke's altar set for Coventry Cathedral.

There will also be a unique opportunity to view the vestments designed by John Piper with Piper's biographer, Frances Spalding and the Cathedral's textile consultant, Mary Sleigh.

A Litany in the Ruins and Eucharist in the Cathedral will be held before lunch.

For full timings, programmes and ticketing visit

Organised by Art and Christianity

Peter Newby is Priest of St Margaret of Scotland in St Margaret's, Twickenham and Chair of the Westminster Diocesan Art and Architecture Committee

Our Lady of Victories, High Street Kensington 2010-2018 Architect: Colin Smart; Artist: Stephen Foster; Furniture Designers: Eckersley and Neal

St Augustine's, Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith 2018-2018 Architect: Roz Barr; Altar: Julian Stair; Typography: John Morgan Studio
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Publication:Art and Christianity
Date:Jun 22, 2018
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