In March 2014 I exhibited “Annunciation” in The Church of St Giles, Cripplegate.  You can see photographs of it in the Gallery section under the title Annunciation.  Previously in March 2004 another version of the installation had hung in St Mary’s Guildford as part of an exhibition entitled “Beyond Belief”.    For the St Giles exhibition I had revised the piece to include a freestanding gothic framework from which the chair was suspended.  I also displayed two prints I had made relating to the Annunciation.

St Giles Cripplegate

A Service of Evensong to mark Lady Day (Feast of the Annunciation) was held prior to the Private View which many people said was ‘thought provoking’ and ‘ put the installation into context’.  During the time it was in the church there were many other comments and the vicar said she had had many different discussions about it with a cross section of people.  It was also used as a teaching aid when the local school children when they came to the church during Holy Week.  “Pilate”, they thought “would have had a far more important chair”!

The explanation about ‘Annunciation’  which accompanied the exhibition which ran from March to June 2014 is given below:

Set in the magnificent space of the church of St Giles Cripplegate in the City of London, a wooden chair hangs from a minimalist framework which echoes the gothic arches of the church itself.

The installation by Susanna Harris Hughes called Annunciation is inspired by C15 Renaissance paintings from which she explores the symbolism of the New Testament story of the Angel Gabriel’s appearance to the Virgin Mary. In these C15 works, the scene is depicted in a typical domestic interior of the time and in many of the paintings the Angel holds a lily as a symbol of purity.

Susanna says of her piece “I am trying to create an image which captures in a modern idiom the essence of what the Renaissance painters were saying. The Angel, the lily and the Virgin are long gone but the wood of the chair (and of the Cross) had a symbolic meaning for early Christians because it was a material of our physical world. The pollen of the lily will outlive its flower and the palaeobotanist can still excavate it. By engraving the grain of lily pollen on to the glass seat of the chair, I am trying to capture the idea of ‘looking through time’ at what was left when the angelic encounter ended.

A familiar image has been deconstructed. Can these physical objects leave us with the shadow of a metaphysical event?”