Together We Rise at Chichester Cathedral is open!
Together We Rise comprises over 30 artworks by Royal Society of Sculptors members, presented within Chichester Cathedral. The work responds to the artists’ experience of the pandemic, their resilience, sense of community and collective hope.
The exhibition opened at Chichester Cathedral on 27th June and runs until 6th September 2022
During this challenging period, a group of sculptors, all members of the Royal Society of Sculptors, met online. These Zoom meetings were a great platform for keeping in touch, during 2020-2021 for supporting each other, for sharing ideas as well as an opportunity for discussing obstacles like self-doubt and anxieties through an extremely difficult time.
The resulting work, collected for this unique exhibition, is an expression of these meetings, showing the result of the conquering of demons and obstructions that this sharing enabled. Many participants expressed that although the Covid Pandemic was a challenging time for them, the group supported and helped many to see past these obstacles to create new, inspired works, often working in a new way and in collaborations with other members.
This exhibition, curated by Jacqueline Creswell, Visual Arts Advisor, has been inspired by hope and resilience and a firm belief in the positive side of human nature, making us aware of our vulnerability as well as illuminating our humanity. The various works reflect the way these artists dealt with their journey through a Pandemic, empowering them to harness inner strength and create works of art that reflect this episode in our history.
The work reflects sustainability in the Arts: physically, conceptually, and financially.
Jacquiline Creswell, curator of the exhibition said:
“Together We Rise is a counterpoint to the challenges of the last two years and an expression of the artists’ perseverance, by coming together through virtual means to overcome isolation, fear and doubt. By bringing together this group, much as other communities have come together during the pandemic to support one another, I have seen a flourishing of creativity which demonstrates the power of shared adversity overcome by shared endeavour.
For further information visit: @togetherwerise2022 on Instagram
My part in this adventure:
In 2021, as we felt our way out of lockdown, I looked at the faces of the sculptors on our zoom meeting and decided that I would volunteer to steer an exhibition of the participants, as long as I had a team of at least 3 to share it with. I posted a message and had a positive response from the people I was hoping to hear from! The reasons I thought I should step forward were many, but the collective talent looking at me from the screen, and their experience meant that I felt that it needed to be done. I wasn’t sure how, and we began finding our way forward.
The participants were all members of the Royal Society of Sculptors and were mostly based in the Southwest of England. The zooms were hosted by Simon Hitchens every 2 weeks, throughout the pandemic and were a place to connect with like minds and express anxiety and dismay as our commissions and exhibitions were cancelled. We supported each other as we gave voice to our vulnerabilities. We laughed at times too!
The idea of a group exhibition was discussed, on a few occasions, as a possibility full of hope and positivity. When the proposal developed, every sculptor wanted to join in, the take-up was unanimous and we had to reluctantly close the list.
The steering group were Anna Gillespie, Fiona Campbell, Kate Parsons, and soon Patricia Volk and later Jo Taylor and Judy Boyt joined in.
Jacquiline Creswell responded positively when we asked her to curate. Fiona and I drafted an email to ask an international gallery if they might host such an exhibition, but it didn’t work out. Jacquiline approached a private gallery who also were unable to accommodate. It was all part of the journey because she recognised that the perfect venue for this ambitious and huge show was in fact the cathedral, in Chichester. A document was compiled, and each sculptor made a proposal and supplied images to support it. Jacquiline expertly bridged the gap between the ecclesiastics and the creatives. The show came together.
Jacquiline met all 26 sculptors, sometimes in their studios. She held hundreds of zooms. The title of the show was agreed upon. Sculptors produced their ambitious proposals and the cathedral prepared to host.
I determined to include a 6m tall pair of sculptures which I had been working on during the pandemic and were visible in my studio behind me in many of the zooms.
Installation took 5 intensive days. The show looks amazing. The work sings and the placing is sensitive. I hope you get to see it, it’s worth the journey. More than 30 works are in the cathedral and the grounds.
My role in helping to organise the show was to support our curator, Jacquiline, (who deserves a medal,) to collate and adjust the proposal document, facilitate steering group zooms and share notes, and produce Jacquiline’s plan of what was going where. The other steering group members took different roles, Fiona headed the press, Anna was in charge of the installation program, and Patricia produced a website and managed our Instagram account. Kate organised sculptors’ insurance details and Jo explored grant possibilities to fund talks and workshops. Everyone contributed generously with their time and energy, and as always in these labours of love, it is evident.
We extend our thanks to Jacquiline, and to the team at Chichester Cathedral.