Graham Sutherland's great tapestry, which covers the entire wall behind the altar
Cathedral, was designed to focus meditation on Christianity's answers to the big questions of life.
was hung in 1962, the year the new building was consecrated. Although the tapestry has received
much critical attention as a major work of art, it was only in 1995 that it was presented in book
form as a focus for meditation. The text was written by a Christian believer, Michael Sadgrove, a
member of the cathedral's clergy. His text, 'A Picture of Faith', was conceived as being a
meditation on the tapestry as a process of Christian self-discovery; "of knowing God and knowing
Seated before the tapestry, he set the scene as follows;
".... the tapestry
has much to do with what I experience as I sit quietly in the nave and try to be
open to truth, and to God. It is that elusive quality I can only call presence that I am meaning."
This presence he identified first with the tapestry's "restful, all pervasive,
green that seems to want
to flood into my being, with all that it promises of healing, renewal and growth".
Then, he considered the figure of 'Christ in Glory', 'at once strong, and gentle,
noble yet tender'
which through the human face tells of an eternal love, and a glory that is accessible, and within
Other images then follow into focus:-
"the swirling energies
of the four living creatures as they gyrate, it seems, around the still
centre of Christ haloed at the heart of the tapestry"
"the 'high window'
above Him, through which pours light from some far-off place, with its Dove
descending as if on a sunbeam"
"the human figure
dwarfed at the feet of Christ"
"the mysterious chalice
with its serpent rising out of its depths"
"the archangel Michael
wrestling with Satan"
Underneath all this, at the very bottom of the tapestry there is the partly hidden
"ashen-hued, the tragic antipole to the glory above it"
Overall, he was aware of the tapestry's 'transparency' as an invitation to a new way
of 'seeing'; the
way to himself and to God.
His journey proceeded through contemplation, one by one, of the tapestry's eight major
features. Each prompted the author to set out to explore particular notional highways and byways
via digressions into personal experiences, and his past responses to other works of art. He finally
took his leave of the tapestry after contemplating the signatures of the tapestry's artist/creator and
its weavers. He was metaphysically signing up to a new cosmic understanding. It is the love that
flows out of Christ in Glory which empowers him, as man and priest, to be a bridge to
communicate that love. He has become a "point of connection to enable heaven and earth to touch"