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The free exhibition, titled ‘Being Human’, is the latest collaboration between Liverpool Cathedral and acclaimed sculptor and artist, Peter Walker.
Exploring what it means to be human and how we connect with others in a changing world, the exhibition is made up of four installations: Connection, Creativity, Identity and Reflection.
Connection is a sculpture featuring two giant-sized female hands, each towering two metres high. Situated at the heart of the ‘Being Human’ exhibition, Connection is a contemporary twist on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel masterpiece, the Creation of Adam, which depicts God’s hand reaching out to meet Adam’s finger.
Forming a gateway to ‘Being Human’, the imposing installation, which spans almost 10 metres of floor space, has been created using traditional sculpture techniques. A vast gap between each hand represents faith, whilst also symbolising our connection to each other, highlighting the importance of human contact and the isolation that comes with being apart. The artist hopes the piece will inspire people to reach out to others in their own communities following the distance and isolation experienced by many during the pandemic.
Visitors are encouraged to stand in the middle of the two giant hands to try to plug the gap between them as they marvel at the sheer scale of the installation, capturing photos along the way.
Creativity is a representation of Peter Walker’s own studio space, featuring elements of his previous artworks and key tools of his trade including an easel, a turntable and a palette. The installation showcases 25 years of his work as an artist from early drawings and self-portraits to sculptures and fine artworks in bronze and oil.
The installation encourages visitors to observe how art makes them feel as they explore where creativity begins and consider the importance of art as a reflection of society.
Identity is inspired by the traditional photobooth. The interactive installation invites visitors to star in their own piece of art as they briefly become the artist’s model. As the installation captures a portrait of each visitor, a personalised artwork is displayed on an easel for just a few minutes, or until the next person sits for the artist.
Visitors are encouraged to take a photo of their own portrait against the backdrop of the iconic Gothic building before their personal artwork disappears, although portraits may one day re-emerge as part of a future installation at Liverpool Cathedral.
Reflection is made up of 5,000 metal leaves, each engraved with the word hope. A reflective memorial to the pandemic, the leaves transition in colour from silver to autumn brown, symbolising new life and hope after loss. Created using steel to signify resilience and collective strength, the artist uses sycamore maple leaves to represent protection, eternity, strength and clarity.
Serving as a remembrance area for the city, the installation marks the widespread pain and suffering experienced during the pandemic. As a reflection of the human connection with nature, the leaves are spread out across the floor as if scattered by the wind, to symbolise the past as well as hope for the future.
Visitors are invited to become part of the artwork by writing their own message on a paper leaf to reflect how they feel and to remember loved ones they have lost.
Peter Walker is the same artist and sculptor who brought awe-inspiring installations such as ‘Space, The Universe and Everything’, ‘Peace Doves’ and ‘Angel Wings’ to Liverpool Cathedral. Speaking on his latest work, he said:
“The magnificent Gothic architecture of Liverpool Cathedral sets the scene perfectly for ‘Being Human’, an exhibition which sets out to inspire people to contemplate just how incredible we are as human beings.
“The ‘Being Human’ exhibition is made up of four artworks, which I hope visitors will enjoy taking time out to explore. As they interact with each installation, my aim is to encourage people to ponder what makes us who we are and how we connect with others. By our very nature, we’re all unique as human beings and I’m looking forward to seeing how the exhibition touches people from many different walks of life, inspiring the youngest of visitors to the oldest.”
Speaking on the ‘Being Human’ exhibition, Revd Canon Dr Neal Barnes, Canon for Mission and Faith Development, said:
“Visitors are always incredibly complimentary about Peter’s artworks at Liverpool Cathedral, which are extremely thought-provoking, and ‘Being Human’ is no exception. We’re delighted to welcome Peter back as he encourages us to journey through the art of Connection, Creativity, Identity and Reflection.
“It’s fair to say that the challenges of the pandemic have been tough for many and I hope visitors will use this latest exhibition as an opportunity to reflect, consider their faith and focus on what is most important to us as human beings.”
‘Being Human’ forms part of a two-year programme of events, exhibitions and artworks leading up to Liverpool Cathedral’s 100th anniversary, which falls in 2024. The exhibition, which is free to attend, is open from 10am – 6pm daily between 27 July – 30 August.
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