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24 September 2014

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You are in: Tees > Faith > The Reredos

Inside Middlesbrough's Cathedral

Inside Middlesbrough's Cathedral

The Reredos

It's bright and abstract and forms a focal point within Middlesbrough Cathedral, and what it means is entirely up to you.

Father Gerard Robinson in front of the Reredos

Father Gerard Robinson

The latest subject for Divine Art is the Reredos which was designed by Bob Brumby and forms a focal point within Middlesbrough's Cathedral.

An abstract design was chosen deliberately in order not to distract the eye from the altar ceremonies, and it's purpose is to aid concentration not to compete for it.

As to what it all means the artist is naturally reluctant to say, for his is not a literal art.

However to get an interpretation of what it means to him, we asked Father Gerard Robinson who is based at Middlesbrough Cathedral for his view.

"What the painting is about is the resurrection. It symbolises the story of our human struggle; our spiritual development, our materialistic desire, our hunger for knowledge and truth, our ache for peace. 

Outside Middlesbrough Cathedral

Outside Middlesbrough Cathedral

"At the bottom of the painting dark tones are used, not only to express 'the beginnings', but also to form a contrast behind the altar, thus making the altar 'sing out'. 

"Here you will observe weeds, seeds, fighting beasties and fermenting bubbles, in other words the struggle of evolution.

"Moving upwards, you can make out the image of a calf symbolising St. Luke and then, over on the right, St. Matthew symbolised by a human head.

"Between them are some spiky forms, signifying the crown of thorns, and to the right of that are three crosses on a hill and a tree perhaps.

"Above these forms you may detect two fish, symbolising Christianity with, below them, a net-like pattern referring to the fishes of men.

Another view of the Reredos

Another view of the Reredos

"Next, to the left, geometric patterns and structures representing the human need to build, make one's mark and journey into the unknown.

"Above, in the centre, an eagle, the symbol of St. John, is depicted and, to the right a rampant lion symbolising St. Mark.

"From the right of the eagle a pattern of architectural forms, which are associated with church building, emerges. 

"As well as illustrating the presence of 'the church' this also presents our attempt to build to the glory of God.

"To the left you will observe a stripy, wavy pattern; acknowledgement that there are many roads to salvation or to God and none of them is easy, straight or perfect. 

"The planets of the universe are shown to be ever expanding and re-forming as are, at the other end of the scale, the minutest cells of life.

Roof above the Reredos

Roof above the Reredos

"We are now three quarters of the way up the Reredos where the forms, through the use of colour and pattern, are beginning to come together.

"There are four arches representing the gospels, three towers - the trinity, a shape containing many windows - the heavenly mansions.

"Towards the top, the colour and forms mingle and meld, gradually bringing all thoughts, ideas, hopes and visions into an acknowledgement of unity, of being at one with the universe and at peace.

"That is my view of what I can see through this work but once again to echo the words of  Bob Brumby, it is really up to the person viewing it to make up their own mind about this stunning work of art."

last updated: 01/05/2008 at 15:00
created: 13/02/2007

Have Your Say

What does this art work mean to you?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Jacob Mason
This is an example of some of the worst "art" I have ever seen. There is no way something like this should be in a cathedral. What happened to true art (an imitation of nature) that gave glory to God? Apart from the regards of aesthetic beauty, I would have hoped that England's rich heritage might have better informed the designer of this cathedral.

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