Ladders of Light… A new constitution for the UK.
February 5th - April 3rd, 2019 Salisbury Cathedral.
An exciting new work from two artists, the award-winning poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay MBE and fine artist Mary Branson. The installation in Salisbury Cathedral explores the possibility of a ‘new charter' for the UK when we leave Europe. Put into care as a child, Sissay's poetic constitution reflects on our duty to the most vulnerable in society, particularly children, while Branson’s ethereal, illuminated ladders are a metaphor for a socially mobile pathway to a more just and equal society. The installation encourages the observer to look up towards a higher plane, to cross divides and overcome barriers. A powerful blend of poetry and visual art, the work both mirrors the grandeur and aspiration inherent in the Cathedral's Gothic architecture and conveys the fragility of our community.
Ladders of Light is a Storyvault commission for Sky Arts 50 and is curated by Jacquiline Creswell, Salisbury Cathedral’s Visual Arts adviser.
‘And he took one of the stones, and put it under his head, and he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And the Lord stood beside him and said: thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’
‘As I write about my future installation Ladders of Light (All the families of the earth be blessed) the British government are about to decide on how to leave the European Union.
As a child of the 70’s, I have enjoyed the benefits of growing up and working in an environment where I felt a close connection to our European neighbours. I wanted my son to have the same experience. I worry for his future and the younger generations, facing a very different setup in which they have had no voice.
Whatever my personal vote, I’m a pragmatist. If we are to become a distinct Island again, then I to look to the people to create a just, equal and caring society.’
Ladders of Light responds to the huge elevations of Salisbury Cathedral, inviting the viewer to raise their eyes upwards within the sacred space, the giant columns like tree trunks piercing the mists that loom over the land.
‘Using this framework, I imagine mental bridges like huge synapses, spanning up and across the cathedral, the multiple ladders turning the space into an ethereal building site, encouraging us to reach out to restructure a new society.’
Seeing the ladders in the context of the Christian building one sees the parallels in Genesis’s Jacobs’ ladder.
The stone pillow on which he rests his head are the hewn Chilmark stones which anchor the work to its foundations. The rungs linking man to heaven (perhaps a better place than we in are now) and the command from God in creating his church: “All the families of the Earth be Blessed”- a message of equality across all nations.
With thanks to:
Mat Clark, Colin Musson, Edd Jordan, Emma Brown, Jane Fairbanks, Sara Scott, Peter Smith, Mary Hainline, Paul Clark, Katy Hunter-Choat, Mags Hardwick, Barbara Hester, Jill & Peter Gulabov, Rosemarie Juliano, Cate Davey, Ben Clark, Pippa Vaughan, Jim Leonard, Julie Hoyle, Josie Davis and David Rayment at Sinclair and Rush.
Special thanks: Jaquiline Creswell, Gary Price, Russell Cruse, Ricardo da Fonseca and all the team at Salisbury Cathedral.