Fourth Phase at Canterbury Cathedral

Tuesday, 20 April 2004
Fourth Phase at Canterbury Cathedral
UK - When the acclaimed lighting designer Willie Williams was asked to contribute to a major new series of exhibitions to celebrate 150 years of Christian charity BibleLands' ministry in the Middle East, he turned to Fourth Phase London to supply the lighting rig.

Featuring contemporary interpretations on the theme Presence - Images of Christ for the Third Millennium, events are taking place in six cathedrals throughout Britain, with Williams' piece, Vigil, on display at Canterbury over the Easter period.

At Canterbury the exhibition featured two contrasting pieces of art. Antony Gormley's sculpture Rise, rests in the Trinity Chapel in the place where Thomas Becket's bones lay in a shrine until it was destroyed during the Reformation, while Williams' newly commissioned light installation went on display from dusk on Palm Sunday, 4 April 2004.

Using a selection of equipment from Fourth Phase, including 96 ETC Source Four 10º and 8 HID 10º, Williams' design saw the Bell Harry Tower, nave, altar and central crossing flooding with purple light in the week running up to Easter, transforming into rays of gold at a moving midnight mass ceremony on Easter Sunday.

Curator of Presence, Meryl Doney, explained: "Looking for an artist who would be able to create something very dramatic at Canterbury, I immediately turned to Willie Williams. His brief was to interpret the meaning of 'Presence' and to incorporate that meaning with Easter week. Using inspiration from the Easter Eve service where fire is brought into the darkened church to signify that Christ is risen, Willie used this idea to come up with the flooding of light from the heavens - purple and red being colours of the Passion and the rays of gold light signifying the Resurrection."

One of the key aspects of the whole Presence exhibition is that each work of art becomes integrated with worship. As such Fourth Phase's expertise in planning and managing large scale lighting and projection events was invaluable. Meryl continued: "Willie has a good history of working with Fourth Phase and it was on his recommendation that I got in touch with Alan Thomson and his team. We needed to install the equipment at the top of a medieval tower - rather a challenge - but Alan came up with some practical ideas including the construction of a scaffolding collar around the gallery of the medieval tower which is sympathetic to what we were trying to achieve."

Canon Richard Marsh of Canterbury Cathedral added: "This is the first time anything like this has been installed at the Cathedral and it's certainly raised a few curious eyebrows amongst our regulars; but it looks absolutely spectacular. The choir performed a rendition of Bach's St John's Passion under the rays of its light. Willie Williams and the Fourth Phase team have succeeded in conveying the message of the Passion in a very different yet very fitting way. We're delighted!"

(Sarah Rushton-Read)

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