By Katrina ffiske

Spirit and Endeavour, the largest contemporary art exhibition, is to stay in place until April, 2021.

That’s the good news for Salisbury. Jacquiline Creswell, Visual Arts Advisor and curator. to the Cathedral, has managed to agree with each artist and gallery that the exhibition can remain.

Having spent many lockdown afternoons being inspired by large impressive sculptures, video installations, tapestry and paintings I found myself wondering how hard is it to install impressive pieces in such a sacred space. Jacquiline, Visual Arts Advisor, curator took time to tell me the complications of putting together this exhibition.

“It took three years of preparation to gather together this collection and we managed to install the entire exhibition in just over the three weeks,” Jacquiline said. “It was the most challenging and complex installation, a monumental exercise given the constraints of this unique environment. Working within the architectural and historic bounds of the Cathedral and Close requires painstaking attention to detail with no room for error.

“Working hand in glove with Gary Price, Clerk of Works, the setting and installation of every piece was carefully planned and precisely executed. Nothing could interfere with the fabric of the building, we cannot drill into the walls, and no structural loading is permitted.”

In the Close are large dramatic sculptures, including works by Henry Moore, Conrad Shawcross and Lynn Chadwick.

“Having a background in sculpture, you have an intuition about where pieces should be placed and I had to fine-tune which piece is installed first. And 15 tons of soil were extracted from the ground of the Close. This was sieved and replaced for sitting works, all under the watchful eye of our Cathedral Archaeologist.” Specialist equipment was needed for every move, including a 50-ton crane, three HIAB cranes, a 14-metre scissor lift and more than 500 hours of commitment from engineers and professional installers.

“The Works Department alone devoted hundreds of hours working with the installers to complete the project on time, all under the looming cloud of the imminent global pandemic. Their incredible efforts are a testament to the twin themes of spirit and endeavour which define this exhibition.”

The exhibition is celebrating 800 years since the Cathedral was built. I particularly love the shimmering golden Anthony Gormley figure (GRIP (Net) that stands high above the choir and learnt that this particular work was chosen to represent the hard labour that was put into the building the Cathedral.

“I knew exactly where I wanted this piece to go. It stands high above the choir, opposite the Moses Window” Jacquiline said. “With the lattice work body there is both an absence and presence of the body. Life is transient for us. Brave, frail humans built the cathedral, both their presence and absence felt in the structure of this magnificent building.

“It is thrilling that the exhibition has been extended. Art is so important. It brings the community together and connects people which is particularly important in these strange times.”

One final word of advice from Jacquiline: “Setting up the exhibition was quite stressful, so to relax, I would lie on the flagstones underneath Daniel Chadwick’s sculpture ‘Somewhere in the Universe’ watching it float is a magical calming and mesmerising moment. I highly recommend it!”

Spirit and Endeavour. Salisbury Cathedral. Visit the website to see when the Cathedral is open. or call 01722 555150