Oriel Q - Queens Hall Gallery, High Street, Narberth, Pembrokeshire, SA67 7AS [t] 01834 869454 Manager: Lynne Crompton
A projection of images based on the medieval rood screen at Llananno
Photographs of stained glass from churches in Wales, to coincide with the publication of Martin Crampin’s book Stained Glass in Welsh Churches. Not all the images appear in the book – some are from the author's archive.
Assorted ceramics and jewellery by students and well-known artists
Images from the edges of medieval art in Wales
The exhibition is based on patterns and imagery from medieval decorative and architectural arts, interpreted as composite digital images. These images are made by digitally superimposing scanned drawings, paintings and rubbings with photographs. The sources for these images are patterns and images on ceramic tiles at the former Cistercian abbey at Strata Florida, patterns on the coving panels of the wooden rood screen at the church at Llananno, and stone grotesques from the exterior of the Church of All Saints, Gresford.
The meaning of these patterns and images in medieval churches is not immediately obvious to us now, but would have been understood within the context of the mysteries of the Christian faith in the Middle Ages. Many of the sources of patronage that allowed the visual arts to flourish in the church were lost after the Reformation in the sixteenth century, but the decorative arts enjoyed revival as hundreds of churches were built and restored in the nineteenth century, and were usually medievalist in inclination.
The many surviving examples of medieval decorative arts in Wales are sometimes difficult to find, and are often found in dark corners of medieval churches, or high up and beyond the reach of the sixteenth and seventeenth century iconoclasts. This exhibition is an attempt to make this once vibrant visual tradition visible once again, illuminating it with fresh light and colour for our present age.
Grotesque heads, figures and beasts from the Church of All Saints, Gresford
The meaning of these grotesque carvings is not clear to us now. Perhaps they were to frighten away evil spirits from the church, or perhaps the reverse is true, that they represent the evil spirits that were thought to tempt and bring about the damnation of the soul. It has also been thought that they represent the vestige of Pagan beliefs that had become incorporated into popular Christianity of the Middle Ages. Their presence on the outside is in clear contrast to the angels depicted around the roof of the interior of the church, signifying the sanctity of the church.
To see all the images in the exhibition, plus media and prices, please click here.