Ted Harrison, an artist and writer who recently completed his masters at UCA Canterbury, has produced a large scale art installation for St Pauls Cathedral, which will be seen by millions across the world on Remembrance Sunday 11 November.
This work is being installed at a contrasting time in St Paul’s history, with the Occupy London protesters outside the cathedral. Street Artist Banksy has produced a work for the protest movement which highlights the issue of Bank greed. It depicts a giant Monopoly board with a down and out Mr Moneybags begging with his top hat. Information released today shows that while most people in the public sector are taking cuts in salary the average company director and Bank senior management is taking a 30% increase in pay.
Harrison’s piece, measuring 30 feet in diameter, is placed under the Cathedral’s dome. It is made up of thousands of fallen poppies which from ground level seem to have fallen in a random arrangement, but when seen from the famous whispering gallery above will reveal a striking image.
Ted said: “My work symbolises the randomness of warfare – who lives and who dies is often a matter of chance. Looking down on the circle you will see the poppies have another purpose – they make up an image of three children who have all been involved in war as combatants. The UN outlaws the recruitment of minors but it is thought there are over 250,000 male and female soldiers worldwide aged under 18, some as young as 9.
“My work does not only draw attention to this, but also aims to reclaim the poppy as a symbol of remembrance. The poppy was originally worn in sorrow or regret, with the implication that wars should never happen again, yet today, it more usually seen as a symbol of patriotic pride in our armed services.”
The installation was constructed over a number of months in an old RAF base near Ted’s home on the Shetland Islands and was transported in 28 pieces to St Pauls Cathedral. His project was supported by a Visual Artist Award from Shetland Arts in Partnership with Creative Scotland.
Ted said: “It is such an awe inspiring space and a great challenge. With just days to go it became an anxious time too, not knowing if the Cathedral would be open due to the Occupy London camp.”
Before completing his Fine Art MA in 2010, Ted had an extensive career as a writer, television documentary-maker, journalist and cartoonist. He worked at BBC Radio Four for 20 years and presented ‘Sunday’ and ‘Does He Take Sugar’ and was the religious affairs correspondent. He has published 20 books and with his daughter Caroline Gilson produced and directed ITV drama ‘Redcoats’ and award winning Elvis and the Presleytarians’ for BBC1.
He said: “Much of my work during my career has been word- based, with my academic area being theology. I wanted to explore new ways of using art to explore spiritual ideas that were beyond words. The piece at St Pauls Cathedral is my first large scale design, but now that I know I can work at that size, I am developing several ideas with specific venues in mind.”