800 Years of Art in Salisbury Cathedral • Ian Berry • Magnum Photos

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Arts & Culture

800 Years of Art in Salisbury Cathedral

Ian Berry explores Salisbury's historic cathedral and its eclectic and unusual championing of the arts

Ian Berry

Ian Berry Artist Michael Pendry's installation of 2,500 white origami doves 'fly' the length of the nave. He has exhibited in San Francisco, London, Berlin, Jerusalem and Munich, each time asking local peop (...)
Ian Berry A view of the cathedral across one of the five rivers during flood that flow through the city. Salisbury Cathedral. GB. England. Salisbury. Wiltshire. 2014 © Ian Berry | Magnum Photos
Ian Berry To celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta by King John, Salisbury Cathedral has liaised with Erlestoke Prison to create a collage of tiles of the prisoners' own artwork w (...)
Ian Berry Choir boys and girls dressed in their choristers' vestments complete with pleated ruffs and their sponsors' medallions sit underneath a quartet of painted and gilded statues of saints near the choi (...)
Ian Berry England. Wiltshire. Salisbury. Salisbury Cathedral. The London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jaime Martin rehearsing for that evening's concert during Magna Carta year; the conductor and (...)
Ian Berry Artist Sophie Ryder's 20ft statue The Kiss was blown over in a recent gale. It had been moved from its original position because visitors on their mobile phones were complaining about bumping thei (...)
Ian Berry A Benedictine monk wheels a fellow monk in his wheelchair past one of artist Sophie Ryder's sculptures of a lurcher and a Lady Hare sitting on top of a horse in The Close, outside the cathedral. Sa (...)
Ian Berry England. Wiltshire. Salisbury. Salisbury Cathedral. Artist Sophie Ryder's sculpture of a lurcher and a Lady Hare being wheeled on a trolley into position in the cathedral.Sophie Ryder was b (...)
Ian Berry England. Wiltshire. Salisbury. Salisbury Cathedral. A priest walks past artist Sophie Ryder's sculpture of a Lady Hare and a lurcher installed in the cathedral. Her lurcher Pedro beside her is (...)
Ian Berry Reflection: A new exhibition of glass sculptures at Salisbury Cathedral curated by Jacquiline Creswell, the cathedral's Art Advisor, and Rebecca Newnham who will be exhibiting two pieces. Also exh (...)
Ian Berry Reflection: A new exhibition of glass sculptures at Salisbury Cathedral curated by Jacquiline Creswell, the cathedral's Art Advisor, and Rebecca Newnham who will be exhibiting two pieces. Also exh (...)
Ian Berry GB. England. Wiltshire. Salisbury. Salisbury Cathedral. Reflection: A new exhibition of glass sculptures at Salisbury Cathedral curated by Jacquiline Creswell, the cathedral's Art Advisor, and (...)
Ian Berry Masons mark out a piece of stone for carving in the restoration workshops. Salisbury Cathedral. GB. England. Salisbury. Wiltshire. 2015 © Ian Berry | Magnum Photos
Ian Berry One of the permanently employed glass restorers shows a piece of medieval stained glass window he is working on. Salisbury Cathedral. GB. England. Salisbury. Wiltshire. 2017 © Ian Berry | Magnum Photos
Ian Berry Salisbury Cathedral. Salisbury. Wiltshire. England. 2017 © Ian Berry | Magnum Photos
Ian Berry One of the cathedral chaplains takes a keen interest in a map of the cathedral surroundings that is being prepared. Salisbury Cathedral. GB. England. Salisbury. Wiltshire. 2017 © Ian Berry | Magnum Photos
Ian Berry A cathedral guide (left, wearing a sash of Sarum Green - a very particular colour that is used for choristers' and vergers' robes) and a visitor discuss a installation of statues by Brazilian artis (...)
Ian Berry A figure by Brazilian artist Ana Maria Pacheco installed inside the cathedral. Salisbury Cathedral. GB. England. Salisbury. Wiltshire. 2017 © Ian Berry | Magnum Photos
Ian Berry GB. England. Wiltshire. Salisbury. A giant head sculpture by Brazilian artist Ana Maria Pacheco installed in the cathedral. 2017 © Ian Berry | Magnum Photos
Ian Berry Artist Michael Pendry's installation of 2,500 white origami doves 'fly' the length of the nave. He has exhibited in San Francisco, London, Berlin, Jerusalem and Munich, each time asking local peop (...)
Ian Berry GB. England. Wiltshire. Salisbury. Salisbury Cathedral. Artist Michael Pendry installing 2,500 white origami doves to 'fly' the length of the nave. He has exhibited in San Francisco, London, (...)
Ian Berry GB. England. Wiltshire. Salisbury. Artist Michael Pendry has installed 2,500 white origami doves to 'fly' the length of Salisbury Cathedral nave. He has exhibited in San Francisco, London, Be (...)

Magnum photographer Ian Berry, originally from Lancashire, now lives in the historic English city of Salisbury. The city is perhaps most famous for its cathedral – unusual in that its rapid completion resulted in a unified architectural style, unlike most cathedrals in the country which were built slowly, incorporating changes in both circumstances and tastes.

As Berry notes, “When built, these majestic medieval cathedrals were the art galleries of their day, none more so than Salisbury with its single style architecture of slender columns and soaring ceilings and its sculptures, larger than life on the west door depicting saints and bishops. On a more intimate scale in the Chapter House, carvings of ordinary people going about their business. What is so wonderful is that the mason who carved these small masterpieces used the faces of the workers around him to bring the frieze of daily life at that time, to vivid relief for everyone looking at them now.”

Today the cathedral offers a more literal route to the arts for its many visitors. The grassed close, and the nave itself, are host to an eclectic and evolving series of art installations.

Berry was first drawn to the cathedral by its claim to possessing the best-preserved copy of the Magna Carta in the country. That famous charter, first agreed to by King John and then updated by monarchs who followed him, drew Berry to discover more about the cathedral’s wide-reaching arts program – from its championing of local prison-made work to its Henry Moore sculptures. “Painted extensively by John Constable, an English Romantic painter, the cathedral has been the inspiration for art throughout the centuries since the first stone was laid, and today continues the tradition by providing exciting exhibitions showcasing contemporary artists working in all mediums.” Notes Berry.

While Berry could not photograph the faces of prisoners at Erlestoke, he did document their artistic processes, as well as a variety of tradesmen working in and around the Cathedral, from masons to glass makers. “I just started shooting around the cathedral, anything that seemed interesting. I would potter along and see what was happening.”

Saddened by his hometown “becoming known all around the world for all the wrong reasons”, following the Novichok poisonings of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, Berry noted the work of artist Michael Pendry who subsequently installed his “Les Colombes” in the cathedral’s nave: “Exhibited before in Munich, Jerusalem, London, San Francisco and Berlin, the artist engages community groups and individuals in each place to fold their own origami doves which are then added to the next installation. Flying the length of the nave from the altar to the west door, 2,500 white paper doves symbolise a fundamental human right to peace and freedom.”