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Paul Hurst ARPS - March 2012
Paul Hurst ARPS - March 2012
Medieval Media Exhibition
1st - 30th March 2012
Paul Hurst ARPS lives in Norfolk, close to Norwich. His photography spans over ten years in digital format and prior to that film. Paul specialises in church/cathedral art and architecture, although his experience is applied to other subjects. The following text offers an insight into Paul's photographic work as featured in the March Issue of the RPS Journal:
We are blest in the county of Norfolk of having over 700 medieval churches, an old saying of Norwich was that it had a pub for every day and a church for every week of the year. Most of the churches in the city have thankfully been given a second life as theatres and museums, unfortunately their sister churches in the countryside have had to be closed or locked which prevents people viewing their treasures. My aim with the help of exhibition work is to encourage people both young and old to visit these churches, which will keep them open and secure.
Rood screens were ornate carved wooden screens constructed to separate the nave from the chancel and altar, primarily they were to keep the mass and clergy separated from the common folk. The screen would have been brightly painted, had a cross (rood) and perhaps two figures (Mary and John the Baptist) across the spanning rood beam. This would have been accessible (via a small set of stairs) for someone to illuminate the beam with candles.
Norfolk in the medieval period was in abundance of rich merchants that had benefited from the wool trade, Norwich was considered second to London. These rich benefactors would have built the churches in their villages and furnished them out in the hope of going to heaven.
They would have employed local craftsmen to build the screen and artists from the relevant artisan quarters of Norwich to paint the images and decoration. The artists would have travelled Europe and great Britain collecting images to build up a catalogue of work for the benefactor to choose from, it is with this we can identify particular artists and their work on different screens.
The screens were predominantly painted with saints from the bible and local to the region, although angels were also used. They can be identified by the objects that they carry, i.e. St Peter would be carrying keys. Lesser known saint St Wilgifortes was a Saxon saint who grew a beard as she was reluctant to marry her fathers choice of partner, she is shown with a beard and on a cross as she was crucified for refusing.
My recent project was to collect images of 250 roof bosses in the Nave of Norwich Cathedral, over 35 metres above in the vaulting which was quite challenging. These bosses illustrate both old and new testament and are a unique snapshot in medieval life, they had been collected in the past by Julie Hedgecoe using direct artificial light. My aim was to capture them in natural light to allow the shadow to give a three dimension appearance and to maintain the natural colours, it took me up to 3 hours on three separate visits to capture a constant natural light.
Most of the cartoons would have been created from the master masons viewing of the Mystery plays travelling around the country, this can be identified from the characters and records of plays.
All of this medieval media, be it created in glass, paint, stone or wood was set out to enable the priest to teach the illiterate person of this age the various bible stories, also to show what heaven looked like from earth.
My latest study is of the carved hammer beam roofs that have survived time, once again these beautiful images hanging in the sky of the nave roof looking down on the mortals below.
Paul Hurst ARPS
Monday – Friday. 9.30 – 16.30
The Royal Photographic Society
122 Wells Road
Bath BA2 3AH
For further information please contact Lesley Goode. 01225 325720 firstname.lastname@example.org