A tiny church in Northumberland has beaten Antony Gormley and Canterbury Cathedral for this year’s Art in a Religious Context award
The biennial prize run by the charity Art & Christian Enquiry worth £4,000, with £1,500 each going to the artists and £1,000 to the church. This year’s finalists included a human figure sculpture made by Anthony Gormley from rusted iron nails for Canterbury Cathedral; Guildford Cathedral’s grid-like cruciform by Jonathon Parson; a stained glass window for Durham Cathedral by Thomas Denny; and Katy Armes’ NoThing for Norfolk’s Hellington Church.
The Director of the charity commented that ‘This year’s ACE Awards have once again revealed the depth and diversity of artistic practice among faith communities in the UK’: ‘Our short-lists included an Islamic Hall of Remembrance and a major new stained glass window in a cathedral, as well as some very high quality works of art and architecture in small rural parish churches’. But, topping it all, were two commemorative stained glass windows made St John’s church, Healey, in Northumberland, by artists Anne Vibeke Mou and James Hugonin.
Anne Vibeke Mou’s window is a sheet of glass pock-marked with thousands of tiny impact marks made by hitting the glass with a tungsten point to create a frosty wave-like surface, while James Hugonin’s window is made of small rectangles of red, blue, yellow and green glass, (very) loosely arranged in a double helix.
The two windows were commissioned by a local landowner as a memorial to his parents Julian & Virginia Warde-Aldam. The commissioner is the editor of Hotspur magazine editor and the churchwarden, while also being a relation of the Quaker Robert Ormston who built the neo-Norman church in 1860.
He spoke of how ‘Working with James and Anne Vibeke on the project for a year has been a deeply rewarding, educational experience. They both have the highest standards, are meticulous in their respective methods and showed a sensitivity to each other’s work as well as for the character and fabric of the church. Without their generosity, patience and friendship, this commission would not have happened’.
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