Reflection: Glass Exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral

For centuries the Christian church provided the only access to art for the majority of people. It is hard for us to imagine the impact of entering a huge stone edifice lit by candles and light filtering through stained glass, the scent of incense and rushes, the paintings, sculptures and ornate tombs. But it is glass that is perhaps the most important as it demonstrates the light of god, and in some instances told stories for the many illiterates, in sets known as the Bible of the Poor;. So an exhibition of glass in a cathedral seemed to be thoroughly appropriate. They had run out of information leaflets, and I had forgotten to bring a notepad- though my notes are usually so illegible as to be near useless. So apologies for the absence of details, but the images largely speak for themselves.

This is near the entrance of the cathedral, a simple pair of glass slabs with ornate edges. As you walk around them, they duplicate part of what you are seeing, like a prism. So a performance piece to walk around, experimenting with the various angles and lines of sight.


This one hovers over the dramatic new font- cruciform, with constantly flowing water, so again, a performance piece, but one which forms a central role in Christianity. The gentle tinkle of water is lovely. The glass sculpture is like a piece of stained glass shimmering in the centre of the church. It also fits in well with the stained glass windows around it. Lovely!


This one is impressive in its functionality, to reflect sound rather than light. It is rare to see black glass, so this has a sort of gothic slant to it, nestled between the huge pillars:


Facing this was a trio of glass empty frames which perhaps echoes all the art that was lost in the Reformation.


This one I didn’t understand at all. A huge tube like one used by builders to remove rubbish, with blue and white class churning at its base. Like one of Ralph Steadman’s works.


In a side chapel was this collection of strange coloured bottles, reflecting the stained glass window above, but also echoing the triptyches on altars that were destroyed in the Reformation.



I don’t know if this piece is normally there, but it fits well with the exhibition – a memorial to Rex Whistler who died in World War I by his brother Lawrence. The etched glass revolves within what looks like a reliquary. It shows a star or a bomb bursting, I think.


But my favourite was this glorious assortment of differently coloured and sized pieces which reflected from different angles, so again, very much a performance piece. It was fascinating to see different parts of the surroundings change colour, shape and orientation as you moved about it. My favourite, but hard to show in images. You really had to be there. The show continues till November.





This echoes the stained glass window across the cathedral.


And out in the cloister is a single piece – clear glass, so hard to make out. the cloister was closed to the public as they re growing the grass for an vent. I think it is in the shape of a sword.


One of the best exhibitions I’ve ever seen. Well done Salisbury Cathedral people!



5 thoughts on “Reflection: Glass Exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral

  1. How beautiful – thank you for sharing. Salisbury cathedral has often done interesting things with their premises (sculpture festival, forest of banners, Shakespeare in the nave …) and I must get myself there to enjoy this one.

    Liked by 1 person

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