By Kevin Atherton, located 1986

cathedral
Statement by the Artist. June 1986:
“Although consisting of one large window 15 feet high by 10 feet across, Cathedral is not just about itself as an example of the art of stained glass. The undeniably attractive qualities of stained glass are in this instance secondary to the idea of placing the window in the forest. Operating as a visual trigger, the window is intended to serve to connect mentally the concepts of two separate spaces, the ‘forest’ and the ‘cathedral’.Amongst the common features shared between forest and cathedral is the way that they are affected by natural light. In both cases there exists a darker, interior light, in the spectator’s space, surrounded by a brighter, outside light. This is an essential ingredient, fundamental to the viewing of stained glass and, as applied in Cathedral means that in order to see the window properly the viewer has to enter into the forest.Although deliberately using the association between stained glass windows and church architecture, the subject matter of the window is not religious but is a design taken from drawings and paintings done in the forest. The tracery of branches and the stark silhouettes of trees lend themselves very well to the properties of lead line, and similarly the pooling of light on the forest floor transfers naturally to the pure colour of the cut glass shapes. This means that the forest is the CONTEXT the window is the FORM, and the image is the CONTENT. It is the inter-relationship between these three that makes the SCULPTURE.”

From an interview with Michael Archer for Audio Arts:

“The image in the window is not a literal representation of this location, it’s a culmination of drawings and photographs I did around the forest. It does key into where it is-the morning window faces east, the pool of bright yellow light reflects that, whilst the window originally intended to face west was an evening window, with a more mellow and longer light.

Where we are has been planted; the forest is a man-made environment, it’s certainly managed in a very controlled and disciplined, sectioned-off, logical and geometric way. That’s the kind of thing that gives it a grip for me. It’s quite an aggresssive piece, it is unsympathetic to nature, but in a way I think that, in order for it to say something, it has to be that aggressive against it. It has to stand up. The danger with being sympathetic to nature is that the thing ends up looking so much like nature that it’s just consumed by nature. You’ve got to go against the grain, to a degree. I quite like the fact that it’s glass which is often associated with an industrial environment. Glass is also a valuable material. It conveys the idea that it’s been here a long time. There’s an aura about it that’s because of the connotations of stained glass.

It always has been here in people’s heads, the analogy of the cathedral to the forest. The imagery in the window has just made that thought visible and it draws on the tradition of stained glass that goes back to medieval stained glass, and I like that. But it is also interesting to take this material which is very fragile and to make public art with it.”