New major work by Bill Viola unveiled for St Paul's Cathedral

Published 9 September 2016

The work, titled Mary, is the second permanent video installation for the cathedral created, with Art Fund's support, by the internationally renowned artist.

The work, Mary, was conceived as an accompaniment to Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) that was unveiled in 2014 in St Paul's South Quire Aisle. These two pieces are the first moving-image works to be exhibited long-term in a British cathedral.

Bill Viola said: 'The two themes of Mary and Martyrs symbolise some of the profound mysteries of human existence. One is concerned with birth and the other death; one with comfort and creation, the other with suffering and sacrifice. If I am successful, the final pieces will function both as aesthetic objects of contemporary art and as practical objects of traditional contemplation and devotion.'

Viola is recognised around the world as one of the leading contemporary artists. His career spans four decades and covers a broad range of video installations shown in museums around the globe. He focuses on universal human experiences, like birth, death, consciousness, rooted in Eastern and Western art as well as spiritual sources like Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and Christian mysticism.

Other works of the artist for sacred spaces include The Messenger for Durham Cathedral; Ocean Without a Shore, unveiled in San Gallo, a 15th-century church during the 2007 Venice Biennale; and the 2002 triptych, Study for The Path.

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