Sunday, 7 November 2010

Giotto's Bones

What from even quite close looks like a standard quality piece of thirteenth century stiff leaf capital moulding on the west front of Lincoln Cathedral, albeit the colour of the stone and the sharpness of its edges shows recent restoration, turns out on even closer inspection to be a replacement carved in the year that hunting was made illegal. The Subdean, who is also the Canon Pastor, pointed out the signature detail, which I had never noticed before, when hosting the annual gathering of the Canons Pastor from about half the English Cathedrals in the week.

I shared with them the material I’d trailed here on 7th August, and then observed and tried to feed back for them the way they are alive to the almost artistic balance in the contrasts, complexities, constraints and opportunities of their roles and that of the Cathedrals they serve. Being magnets for some of the most vulnerable people and for the most powerful, each appeared to be seeking to be alongside the development of faith and commitment for a whole variety of communities from significant groups of volunteers to regular congregations, from those with a tangential but nevertheless real sense that the building belongs to them to those who choose to come precisely because they don’t want to be bothered by people like a Canon Pastor.

Some of them expressed appreciation for the poem I blogged here on 31st May and for the sort of bible study I blogged here on 9th November 2008 and 6th March 2009 (which was obviously a nice response to have, although I was much more impressed by them) and I also enjoyed sharing a poem of Robert Bringhurst’s newly published in England about the investigation of the twisted mismatched bones of Giotto discovered in Florence Cathedral precisely where Vasari said the marker used to be speaking of the man who could make plaster dust and water, egg yolk, charcoal and red ochre hunker down and sing the blues by making a taut and perfect gesture with a splotched, disfigured hand.


The Sanity Inspector said...

That is indeed an interesting detail!

James Wright said...

"The Bones of Giotto*"

Unearthed from their hallowed subterranean home,
The bones of Giotto with a fanfare are shown.
Archaeology's triumph yet an artist's fair groan
To be studied a fossil through a government loan.

Dislodged from their venerable subsurface zone,
The bones of Giotto may one day be cloned.
Unlike his grand paintings, uniquely his own,
Which, by once hitherto, he was far better known.

Banished from the ground! Exiled from their throne!
The bones of Giotto in museums will roam.
And so this ugly deed, I just cannot condone;
They've despoiled his remains! They should have left
him alone!

(c) 2010 James Wright