'Ladders of Light' opens at Salisbury Cathedral.

Ladders detail.

Ladders detail.

Date: Tuesday 5th February 2019 to Wednesday 3rd April 2019

Time: 09:00 - 17:00

Location: Cathedral Floor.

An Installation by poet Lemn Sissay MBE and artist Mary Branson

Award-winning poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay MBE and visual artist Mary Branson, create a work of art and poetry that challenges us, playfully at times, to adopt a different perspective to today's United Kingdom.

In his poem, Magniloquent Cartilage, Lemn eschews political speak instead of focusing on our individual responsibilities to one another. He challenges us to view the world from an alternative perspective, to try something different. His constitutional demands are unexpected and surprising, built from within rather than driven by edicts.

His poem is echoed in Mary's compelling installation of Ladders of Light, a multitude of seemingly fragile, delicate, illuminated ladders that reach up into the upper gallery of the Cathedral and across the Nave, Inspired by ideas of social mobility, equality and generosity, her work both mirrors with grandeur and aspirations inherent in the cathedrals Gothic Architecture, and speak of the fragility of human society.

Curated by Jacquiline Creswell, Salisbury Cathedral Visual Art's Advisor

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Ladders of Light was commissioned by Sky Arts as part of Art 50, an initiative to fund 50 new pieces of art across the country and from all disciplines exploring what it means to be British.

It will feature in a 5-hour TV special made by Story Vault Productions that will be transmitted on Sky Arts on 29 March, and in the Art 50 festivals taking place at the Barbican on the 23rd February 2019 and the Sage and Baltic on the 23rd and 24th February 2019.

On Thursday 21 February the Cathedral will be open from 18:30-20:00 to view the Ladders of Light and the Pulling Out the Stops Exhibition.   There will be live music and an opportunity to climb up to the our West Window for free.  Food and drink available from our Refectory.

Lemn Sissay - ‘Magniloquent Cartilage’

Lemn Sissay - ‘Magniloquent Cartilage’


In 2005 my mother was diagnosed with dementia, and she began a slow decline where we became separated. Over the past five years she gradually lapsed into silence. 

This artwork is inspired by a lucid dream in which I heard her voice clearly again. 


We were sat together in a boat with two bench seats, set on still water and lit by moonlight.  I became aware of a softness to the inside of the boat.  I laid back into a bed of magnolia petals, a flower I associate with her. 


I awoke comforted, realising how much I missed my mother’s voice, relieved that we were finally able to talk.


Ambiguous or ‘frozen’ loss is a kind of bereavement, felt when a person is present, but may not be mentally or emotionally in touch


The installation is in The Swiss Church, Endell St. I’ve been thinking about this piece for a long time, looking for the right setting – I think this is it.


It will feature an 18 ft. rowing boat, hand built from old pallets, with a black-charred outer skin, the inside completely covered with gold leaf and filled with hundreds of magnolia petals.

The boat will be in the centre, balanced on its keel on a raised platform. It will be lit inside and out like a museum artefact.

Around the walls of the church will be six sound stations, where the individual visitor will hear an intimate spoken word piece. 


The work is supported by CRUSE, a national organisation for grief counselling. They are in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society, working on a project’ Bereavement by Dementia’.

I have come to understand that there are many people who are affected by frozen grief.

I want the work to express my loss and perhaps go some way to starting discussions that can help people feel less isolated.

Mary Branson nominated for Surrey Artist of the Year Award

I’m thrilled to hear that I had been nominated for SAOY. It’s the first year I’ve done Open Studios from my home and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was quite nervous as didn’t know what to expect, but the public were very gentle with me!  It was good to have time to chat to people in a relaxed space about my work and of course talk about New Dawn light installation in Westminster. I sold some prints too!

So, a big thanks to everyone who nominated me.


How to vote

The winner is determined by public vote. If you would like to vote for me or one of the other nominees, you need to visit our group exhibition at the New Ashgate Gallery, Farnham from 30th September – 11th November. Sorry no online voting! 

During this exhibition visitors to the gallery are invited to vote for their favourite artist. The results of the vote, together with a second vote by a panel of judges, will determine the winner of Surrey Artist of the Year. The winner will receive an award of £1,000 to develop a solo exhibition at the gallery for the following year.

That sounds good to me!

The competition is organised in partnership with the Surrey Open Studios. It is supported by the Patricia Baines Trust. The Surrey Life magazine, which has a monthly section dedicated to the local art scene, is the official media partner of the competition.


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Combining art and technology...

I’ve always loved of the aesthetic of big engineering and technology – my dad was a flight engineer and I was a stewardess for British Airways for ten years. From a child I was used to flying in empty jumbos and traveling to brand new, shiny airports. After that I became a scuba diving instructor in Malta, and there was always lots of glamorous kit around, alongside the beauty of nature.

I think some of that has rubbed off – I find the language of engineering very creative. I’m not afraid of technology and because I often work with light and sound it has become part of my process.

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Photo Credit: Vice.com

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Two new contemporary artworks will be on view to visitors this summer in the medieval Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament.  New Dawn is a six-metre high light sculpture by artist Mary Branson. An addition to the Parliamentary Art Collection, it is the first piece of abstract art commissioned for permanent display in the Palace of Westminster.

Click here to read full article

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Photo Credit: Huck

“Sisters Uncut has often been described in the media as the “modern-day suffragettes” following our invasion of the red carpet at the Suffragette film premiere last year. We have grown fast and become infamous for our disruptive protest tactics: having dyed the Trafalgar Square fountains blood red and barricaded the entrance to the Treasury.  In discovering that an expensive art installation would be revealed in Parliament on 7 June 2016 to commemorate the suffragettes – the women who struggled for the right to vote in Britain – we decided to plan a visual and powerful direct action to target the guests as they left Westminster Hall, the site of many historic suffragette protests. The disruption of this parliamentary launch aimed to highlight that the fight for women’s rights, safety and independence is not over: after all, dead women can’t vote.”

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Photo Credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

“A new light sculpture celebrating the 150th anniversary of the campaign for female suffrage has been revealed in the Houses of Parliament.  The artwork which is called: New Dawn was designed by Parliament’s Artist-in-Residence for Women’s Suffrage, Mary Branson, and will be permanently located above the St. Stephen’s entrance.  New Dawn will be presented to the public exactly 150 years after John Stuart Mill MP brought the first mass petition calling for women’s votes into the House of Commons in 1866. While women did not achieve full equality until 1928, many still believe that the Stuart Mill’s petition was the real beginning of the seventy year campaign involving hundreds of thousands of people throughout Britain.”

Click here to read the full article

Huffington Post: Parliament Has Unveiled A Huge Piece Of Art In Tribute To Struggle For Women’s Votes

Photo Credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

“Parliament has unveiled an ambitious art installation celebrating women’s struggle for the vote that also hopes to inspire those carrying the flame for equality today, its creator has told The Huffington Post UK. A six-metre high light sculpture today officially goes up above an entrance to Westminster Hall, the oldest building in Parliament and one of its busiest thoroughfares.”

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Photo Credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Photo Credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

“It's more often likened to a circus than a gallery, but Britain's Parliament is full of art. For the most part that means portraits of somber-looking men, but the latest addition is different — a huge, vividly colored light sculpture commemorating the decades-long battle that won British women the vote. The first abstract artwork created for permanent display in the 19th-century parliamentary complex, "New Dawn " was unveiled Tuesday on the 150th anniversary of the first mass petition to Parliament calling for women to have the right to vote.”

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Photo Credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Photo Credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

“Exactly 150 years to the day since the first mass campaign for women’s votes was launched, a new art exhibition will be revealed tonight in Westminster Hall to celebrate those who fought for women’s suffrage. New Dawn, a light sculpture exhibition by the artist Mary Branson, is located in one of the oldest parts of parliament, St Stephen’s Hall, and will be a permanent addition to the parliamentary art collection.”

Click here to read the full article

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Photo Credit: Daily Politics

Photo Credit: Daily Politics

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